Encouragement and motivation need to be used for employees to make use of networking systems, on top of the their original workload. Thirdly the communication has to be evident to link members around the organization, which is spread around the world. Recognition of culture by management will help achieve effective communication ideal for the ranging culture at Danone. Decentralization is a strategy suggested that need improvement-enabling employees to share practices. The fourth issue is the need for development of the already implemented Networking Attitudes for future success.
Each issue has certain recommendations. Going “Deeper” is the best strategy out of the three suggested from the analysis looking at the advantages and disadvantages of both. Networking Attitudes ideally will take this “deeper” approach over “wider” or “richer”. Having cost efficiency and significant benefits. “Deeper” implementation will affect marketplaces, who’s who and communities. Each implementation comes with risks and barriers that need consideration before applying. Overall knowledge management is a significant component of the organization to keep a competitive advantage.
Introduction As globalization is leading more and more companies into the international business context, a much greater importance is being placed on knowledge management. The most basic resource, and also the most important, will always be knowledge (Drucker 1993, p8). It allows the company to be able to sense any changes, and to adapt and respond. In the end, this determines the success of the company (Gates 1999, p23). Danone is an organisation that does not believe the traditional technological methods of knowledge management are appropriate for the organization (Edmondson, et al. 2008). The company has taken a strong informal networking attitude to create a sharing culture within the organisation and its employees. The company prides itself on its spontaneous nature within networking and its ability to develop new ideas quickly and implement them efficiently (Edmondson, et al. , 2008). While this has worked for them a greater use of structure and formality may be beneficial in allowing a more systematic flow of knowledge within the Networking Attitude.
However, Danone may need to consider extending its concept deeper, richer or wider to determine whether the benefits may be higher than they currently are (Edmondson, et al. , 2008). Background Danone’s success is largely attributed to the knowledge and abilities of its employees. The sharing and retaining of this knowledge is extremely important in ensuring the long-term effectiveness of Danone. The Networking attitude initiative was launched at a Danone conference in the fall of 2002 as a means of circulating good practices and enabling the sharing of knowledge across groups in the geographically dispersed company (Edmonson et l, 2008, p. 1-8). Several tools have been developed as part of the initiative, most notably knowledge “marketplaces”, a “who’s who” internal directory system and sharing networks (Edmonson et al, 2008, p. 1). From 2004 to 2007, Danone employees shared almost 640 good practices with colleagues and overall, the Networking attitude initiative has made practical information accessible to about 5000 of the more than 9000 Danone managers around the world. The initiative has incurred very little cost and was seen highly successful by 86% of general managers according to an internal survey (Edmonson et al, 2008, p. ). Problems Issue 1 – Lack of formal IT systems The knowledge that is shared amongst employees at these networking activities needs to be recorded so that it can be accessed at all times by both the employees that attended the activities as well as those who didn’t. While individual knowledge is shared at the activities it is only to those who are present in the room and some employees may go into information overload and forget much of what they have learnt over the course of the activity.
Another major risk of networking is that when an employee quits they take all of the attained knowledge with them and if it isn’t recorded the knowledge will be lost and unable to be transferred on to new staff. While networking is embedded in Danone’s culture, the need for formal systems is evident in the size of the company and the fact that it is a multi-national enterprise. Danone does not have adequate library-type system in which information about products, practices and challenges is recorded and shared amongst employees (Edmondson, et al. 2008). Many issues can arise from the lack of such a system in such a big company. For example, Danone Brazil helped Danone France in launching a new dessert to complete with a Nestle product in less than three months (Edmondson, et al. , 2008). In this situation Danone employees managed to share their knowledge across continents, this would be made a lot easier if a database with all of the company’s products, production techniques, difficulties during production and success stories were all listed. Issue 2 – Lack of incentives and rewards
A major issue facing Danone’s knowledge management is the lack of incentives and rewards for participation. Although the networking practices have been quite successful for Danone, the employees are not being acknowledged and rewarded for their contributions (Edmondson, et al. , 2008). A reward system needs to be put in place to ensure that the employees are encouraged to make full use of the networking system. Unless this is carried out, learning within the organisation will suffer, as the employees will be less likely to want to contribute to the organisation and the learning culture.
Many of the employees are already very loaded with work as it is, and the networking practices are adding more weight onto their schedules (Edmondson, et al. , 2008). The employees are not being recognised for their jobs well done. If the networking system has been such a success for Danone, management needs to show their appreciation to the employees (Edmondson, et al. , 2008). As it is, Danone are not displaying their gratitude towards the employees and their awareness of their contributions.
Networking is taking top priority within the organisation, and is therefore a lot of work to maintain and continue (Edmondson, et al. , 2008). By rewarding or recognising the employees’ contributions and efforts, a greater awareness about the importance of a learning culture and its impact on the knowledge sharing benefits for the organisation will be created. It will also influence the employees into wanting to further the learning attitude. The front-line managers are highly critical for the networking and knowledge sharing mission, so therefore it is crucial that they be recognised and rewarded accordingly.
The advantages of knowledge sharing are not being clearly displayed to the employees, such as the increase in performance and talent effectiveness (Edmondson, et al. , 2008). This is counter-productive to the learning if they cannot see the potential and importance of the learning attitudes and their impact on the organisation. Motivating the employees to learn would be more beneficial than teaching them how to network. It is not a part of the culture within the organisation to want to share knowledge and learn from other employees within the Danone network.
Sharing has never been a natural part of the culture and this has created clashes and inefficiencies (Edmondson, et al. , 2008). Also, the lack of formalisation within the networking processes has created an issue for structure and feedback on the successes of the projects. This has been problematic as the employees may be becoming too relaxed with their knowledge sharing attitudes. Employees involved were refusing follow-ups as they believed they were being policed and monitored (Edmondson, et al. , 2008).