Managing Communication, Knowledge, and Information

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ManagingCommunication, Knowledge, and Information

ManagingCommunication, Knowledge, and Information

1.1:Classic Badges

ClassicBadges Company is a proposed private company that will be started toproduce quality badges for the local (UK) market and. The owner,Charles Gillbeck, intends to ensure that the company adopts the bestcommunication strategy that will help communicate effectively withsuppliers and potential clients. Potential customers of the companyinclude the local youth organizations, local schools, dentalsurgeries, local authorities, and health care facilities. All badgeswill be tailored to meet the needs of individual clients. Therefore,the communication media selected should help the managementunderstand the needs and desires of clients and communicateeffectively with suppliers to ensure that they bring the right andquality materials.

Decisionmaking

Decisionmaking refers to a process that involves the selection of the mostappropriate course of action out of two or more alternatives.However, the decision maker should be aware of the fact that theremay not be a correct option among the available alternatives (SkillsYou Need, 2015, p. 1).

Typesof decision making

Operationaldecisions: Operational decisions relate to the daily activities ofthe organizations. Operational decisions are made routinely, involvelimited resources, and can be taken by first line or middle managers,and have a short-term application (Chand, 2014, p. 1). This will helpthe Classic Badges plan for its daily operations.

Strategicdecisions: This type of decisions involves the determination oflong-term objectives as well as the approaches that should be used toachieve them (Al-Mamry, 2014, p. 22). Strategic decisions will helpthe Classic Badges plan for its long-term progress and determine howit would like to be in a period of at least five years.

Tacticaldecisions: This type of decisions focuses on how the company shouldbe managed in order to enhance performance and achieve certainstrategies (Gragg, 2014, p. 1). When making these decisions, ClassicBadges will need to determine the type of resources required and thetime scale for achieving its objectives.

Thedecision making process steps

  • Clarification of the nature of the challenge or the problem before deciding on the appropriate action

  • Collection and summation of the data in a systematic way

  • Creative generation of all the possible alternative solutions to the problem

  • Generation of a short list of the most appropriate options

  • Making the decision

  • Implementation of the decision

  • Evaluating the process of decision implementation

1.2:Information and knowledge

Informationcan be considered as a product of data because it is obtained whenthe raw data is processed. In most cases, information seeks to informor give answers to some questions, include those that are related toorganizational goals (Al-Mamry, 2014, p. 22). Knowledge, on the otherhand, refers to the piece of information that has been modeled tomake it more useful (Hunt, 2003, p. 100). The process of modelinginformation is accomplished by examining patterns within a given setof information.

Typesof information required for effective decision making at ClassicBadges

TheClassic Badges should use both the formal and informal types ofinformation in order to make effective and viable decisions. Formalinformation should be obtained from formal communication among themanagers or between managers and the consultant. Informal informationhelps in creating a social environment, which allows thecommunicating parties to engage in an informal communication andbuild a rapport (Kraut, 2002, p. 8).

Typesof knowledge for effective decision making at the Classic Badges

ClassicBadges can use two types of knowledge to enhance its decision makingprocess. The first type of knowledge is explicit knowledge, whichrefers to a type of knowledge that can be easily codified,articulated, verbalized, and accessed (Ellis, 2006, p. 3). This typeof knowledge will help Classic Badges store, retrieve, and alter textand documents easily. It will ensure that the company has all that itneeds and it has the capacity to review and update its records.Secondly, Classic Badges can use tacit knowledge, which is part ofthe knowledge held by individual employees. Although this type ofknowledge is difficult to transfer through verbalization or writing,the company will require it since each employee has a specialknowledge that is personal in nature. Classic Badges will use tacitknowledge by giving all employees an opportunity to utilize theirinnovative skills.

1.3:Internal and external information

Internalinformation refers to the information that has been created for useby the company that has created it. Internal information includestrade secrets, personnel files, and minutes taken during the boardmeetings (Svetina, 2008), p. 278). External information, on the otherhand, refers to pieces of information that are made available toexternal bodies other than the company that created the information.

Listof internal and external sources of information

Internalsources:

  • Company’s financial records

  • Personnel records

  • Marketing and sales records

Externalsources:

  • Databases and research

  • Government

  • External agencies

Essentialinformation obtained from internal and external sources

Theprocess of starting up and operating the Classic Badges Company needsinformation from both the external and internal sources. Thepersonnel records indicate critical information pertaining to allemployees. Some of the significant information that Classic Badgescan get from internal personnel records include the joining dates,performance history, and qualifications (Henro, 2014, p. 1). Thisinformation can be used in the process of the allocation of duties toemployees, promotion, and other decisions that affect members ofstaff.

Financialrecords are a good source of information that can help the managementof Classic Badges in managing the financial health of the company.These records help the chief finance officer, accountants, orfinancial controllers to monitor the profitability, profit marginsand costs (Henro, 2014, p. 1). The information obtained from theanalysis of the financial records can help the management of ClassicBadges in taking the necessary actions in order to safeguard thefinancial performance of the company.

Marketingand sales records provide information that shows the approaches usedto market company products and the effectiveness of each method. Inaddition, these records show the likes as well as dislikes ofdifferent categories of customers. The information obtained from themarketing and sales records can be relied on by the management of theClassic Badges Company in determining the most effective marketingmethods that should be used (Henro, 2014, p. 1).

Credibleresearch databases provide reliable information pertaining to nearlyall aspects of business. For example, research databases may containpublished information about market trends and changes in customerpreferences, which will help the management of Classic Badges indesigning products that will address the needs of the targetconsumers.

Thegovernment provides important information on business regulations.For example, the government provides information on taxation and lawsthat should be followed when making business deals (Henro, 2014, p.1). The government is considered as the most reliable source ofinformation.

Externalagencies (such as the consulting firms) provide useful informationused for strategic information. The Classic Badges can hire aconsulting firm that performs market research and advice and provideinformation for launching the new project. Consulting firms may alsoprovide information about the most appropriate sources of start upcapital.

Recommendationson the effective use of sources of information and kinds of knowledge

Kindsand sources of information

Afteridentifying different types and sources of information, themanagement of Classic Badges should develop effective strategies foreffective utilization these sources and kinds. The first strategyshould be the establishment of a fully fledged department for themanagement of information. The department should play the roles ofidentifying different sources of information and managing differentkinds of information that has been collected to ensure that itbenefits the company (Haggie, 2003, p. 1). For example, thedepartment of information should be able to identify differentalternatives that the government gives to companies in the form oftax reduction incentives and inform the relevant departments (such asthe department of finance) about the existence of these benefits.

Secondly,the management of Classic Badges should employ experts in the fieldsof information management. Skilled and experienced experts in themanagement of information will help the company take advantage of allsources and kinds of information that is available in its businessenvironment. The recruitment of tainted information managementexperts provides companies with an incredible capacity to utilizedifferent kinds of information to advance its operations and enhanceits efficiency (Sewell, 2013, p. 29).

Kindsand sources of knowledge

ClassicBadges can utilize different sources and kinds of knowledge in twomajor ways. The first strategy is to establish a unit that will helpthe company identify different sources and kinds of knowledge andexploit them for the benefit of the company. However, the unit shouldbe equipped, trained and experienced experts in the field ofknowledge management.

Secondly,Classic Badges can hire an independent consulting firm to help it inthe management of knowledge. The knowledge management consultingfirms can help Classic Badges make the best use of knowledge inmaking decisions faster, reusing appropriate ideas, and reducingredundancy (Summerhayes, 2006, p. 2-3).

Allorganizations, both large and small, must make decisions thatinfluence their progress. Similarly, the Classic Badges Company hasto use different steps of decision making in order to ensure that itproduces quality badges that meets the needs of the target consumers.The company has to make operational, strategic, and tacticaldecisions. These decisions may be informed by both the formal andinformal types of information and explicit as well as implicit typesof knowledge. These types of knowledge can be obtained from internalexperts of external consultants.

Tasktwo

2.1:Classic Badges stakeholders

Stakeholdersare individual people or organizations that can be affectedindirectly or directly by the operations of the company (Morris,2004, p. 3). Organizations have both internal and externalstakeholders. In the case of Classic Badges Company, internalstakeholders include employees, management, and the shareholders,while external stakeholders include the government, consumers, andsuppliers. Internal stakeholders are affected directly by theoperations of the company while external stakeholders are affectedindirectly.

Eachof the key stakeholders makes a contribution at various points of thedecision making process, which collectively determines the success ofthe company (Morris, 2004, p. 4). The shareholders are the primarysource of the business idea (the development of classic badges) andcapital to implement the business idea. This means that apart fromgenerating the idea of manufacturing badges, the shareholders(including Charles Gillbek) should make a financial contribution inorder to ensure that the entrepreneurial idea materializes.

Themanagement of the Classic Badges is expected to manage the assetscontributed by the shareholders to implement the business idea ofproducing badges. Managers are expected to use their knowledge andskills to ensure that the Classic Badges Company, not only getsstarted, but runs well and make a profit.

Employeescontribute towards the achievement of the investment objectives bycarrying out the operational roles. Employees of Classic Badges willfollow the procedures laid out by the management team to ensure thatthe company implements the business plan and produces quality badges.

Thekey role of the government is to provide regulations that ensure thatcompanies run smoothly and their assets are protected (Morris, 2004,p. 5). The government will assess the quality of the badges thatClassic Badges Company intends to produce and give a license to thecompany. In addition, the government may provide advisory services tothe management of Classic Badges through its agencies, such as theDepartment of Commerce and SMEs.

Suppliersare important stakeholders who influence the day-to-day running ofthe company and the quality of its output (Morris, 2004, p. 4).Suppliers provide Classic Badges with materials that its needs toproduce badges.

Theneeds of customers are the primary reasons that companies are started(Morris, 2004, p. 4). Similarly, Classic Badges will be started withthe objective of addressing the needs of its target customers, suchas schools. By buying the badges, customers will provide ClassicBadges with the financial resources that it needs to keep running.The needs of the target customers should be integrated into allphases of the decision making process.

Methodsof improving business relationships between the Classic Badges andits stakeholders

ClassicBadges can improve its relationship with the key stakeholders throughinformal and formal strategies. Informal meetings that do notnecessarily involve business-related discussions, create a platformfor the stakeholders to interact socially in a relaxed environment(Aziz, 2012, p. 15). For example, organizing an end of the year partycreates an opportunity for the employees, managers, and theshareholders to interact freely. The company has a wide range offormal methods that it can select to use in order to improve itsrelationship with the stakeholders. Forums are formal methods ofbringing the stakeholders together for organizing discussions (Baker,2013, p. 17).

Aplan for stakeholder engagement: Action plan for decision making

Identification of the learning opportunities / needs

Setting of goals

Planning actions

Resources

Evaluation

Help the management get some experience in the management of a new company

To be able to provide guidance for direction of company resources

Organize training programs Benchmarking management’s performance

Time HR development consultants

Can made critical decisions to guide the start up operations

Help employees acquire skills to produce classic badges

To gain the ability and experience to produce quality badges

Organize staff training programs Supervise employees at work

Time Money Staff trainer

Can produce classic badges under minimum supervision

2.4:Personal networking skills

Personalnetworking skills involve the ability to establish and maintain goodrelationships and contacts with other people or organizations(University of Cambridge, 2014, p. 1). The management of ClassicBadges can enhance personal networking skills using two majorstrategies. First, the management can organize employees into teams.Teams provide employees with an opportunity to interact, learn fromeach other, and advance their networking skills. Secondly, developingquality circles where employees are presented with issues and giventhe opportunity to suggest solutions within a given timescale cangive them an opportunity to develop confidence and networking skills(Willburn, 2014, p. 8).

Organizationshave the obligation to serve their clients by ensuring that theirproducts and services are tailored to address the needs of clients.Classical budges has both internal (including employees and managers)and external (such as government and suppliers) stakeholders. Theclassical budges can enhance its relationship with the stakeholdersthrough informal meetings and the stakeholder forums. In addition,the management of Classic Badges can improve the interpersonal skillsof its employees by organizing them into teams and developing thequality circles.

Taskthree: Developing communication networks

3.1:Introduction to the company

JohnLewis Partnership is a retail firm that operates John LewisDepartmental Retail stores in the UK. The company is owned andmanaged a partnership of employees and it was founded in the year1929 (John Lewis Partnership, 2015, p. 1). John Lewis is controlledby a trust that acts on behalf of the employees who have a stake inthe firm. The Partnership Council serves as the top leadership of thetrust and the entire partnership. The council is responsible for bothcommercial and non-commercial activities of the partnership. Themission of the partnership is to ensure the happiness of all of itsmembers through their satisfaction in a successful business, wherethe success is measured depending on the ability of the partnershipto sustain its position as a thriving employee partnership and anoutstanding chain retailer (John Lewis Partnership, 2015, p. 1). Thepartnership sells clothing, food, cosmetic and house ware products.

Communicationand the process of communication

Theterm communication is defined as the transfer of ideas, information,and emotions between groups and individuals (Losee, 2000, p. 2).

Figure1: The communication process at John Lewis Partnership

FromFigure 1, the source is the person sending the message. The messageis first encoded before it can be relayed to the targeted audiencethrough the channel. The channel is the medium through which themessage is passed to the targeted audience. The receiver or thetargeted audience decodes the message in order to get the message asintended by the sender. The receiver (targeted audience) then sends afeedback to the source or the sender. This is a standard process ofcommunication that is used to pass ideas, information, and emotionsvertically and horizontally within the organization.

3.2: Communication barriers at John Lewis Partnership

Althoughthe firm values communication as the only way of conveying messagesfrom one party to another, there are several factors that reduceefficiency of communication within the firm. Noise is the most commontype of barrier that distracts communication in John Lewis retailstores. The background music played in the stores in addition to thenoise from the busy streets interferes with the communication processamong the employees working in the stores. In addition, somecustomers do not speak perfect English, which causes languagebarriers when they inquire from employees about different products.Similar to other organizations, the store administrators are at timestoo busy, which reduces their ability to listen and interpret theconversation with the juniors as intended by the sender. This type ofreceiver barrier is also contributed by the role difference where thejunior members of staff who operate the store perform differentduties from the management and the store administrators. Moreover,the firm policies dictate that some messages (such as a request forleave, explanation for absenteeism, and other official messages)should be made in writing, which delays and makes communicationdifficult.

Overcomingcommunication barriers to improve communication

Boththe management and individual employees at John Lewis stores have arole to play in reducing communication barriers and enhancingcommunication efficiency within the firm. At a personal level, eachcommunicator should ensure that all ideas are clear beforecommunicating them to the other party (Pujari, 2014, p. 1). Themanagement should also invest in training programs that seek toimprove the communication skills of employees in order to enhancetheir ability to communicate with clients who come from differentcultural backgrounds and speak different languages. Moreover, beinggood listeners, in spite of the background noise, can improvecommunication within the stores.

Implementingthe changes

Thesechanges proposed as the effective solutions for overcomingcommunication barriers can be implemented in four ways. The first,which is the most effective way, is through education or training.All affected stakeholders (including managers and the junior membersof staff) should undergo regular training on communication skills andcultural competence in order to enhance their capacity to communicateand serve customers from different backgrounds (Anand, 2008, p. 360).In addition, training programs that enlighten employees andadministrators on the significance of communication within theorganization will ensure that the busy administrators will payattention to any conversation, in spite of their busy schedules.Training programs can be organized regularly within the storefacilities. Secondly, playing the leadership role as a manager in thestores can set precedence for the junior members of staff. Forexample, if the store and the partnership managers learn to payattention to their conversations with the junior members of staff,everyone in the organization will understand the significance ofcommunication and use it as a tool to enhance efficiency within thefirm. Third, stakeholder forums should be organized regularly anddirect attendants (including employees, managers, and supervisors) todiscuss the importance and ways of enhancing communication skills.

3.4:A personal plan to improve communication skills

Theaction plan contained in this section seeks to address my currentcommunication weaknesses and improve on my current communicationstrengths. Starting with the strengths, I consider myself to be anaverage communicator, who is able to make a message concise andmonitor the mood of my audience. In addition, the ability to makeaction oriented communication is one of the factors that indicate mystrengths in communication. However, experiences have helped mediscover some of my weaknesses in communication. These weaknessesinclude the inability to communicate clear through out a givensession, inability to link communication with personal image, lack ofthe ability to use communication as an effective tool to establishsound relationships, and inability to use effective communication indecision making. These weaknesses increase the threats, such aschanges in the motivation and salary. However, there are severalopportunities that should be exploited, including the development oftechnology and cheap training opportunities. The objectives set inthe personal plan below will address these weaknesses.

Objectivesof the plan to enhance communication skills include

  • To be able to communicate clearly by the end of 2015

  • To be able to use communication as a tool to improve personal as well as professional image by December 2015

  • To be able to able to use communication as a way of establishing sound relationships in personal life and at work by December 2015

  • To be able to use communication as a tool to facilitate decision making and a problem solving by December 2015

Actions

  • Practice listening on a daily basis

  • Practice humility and be ready to ask for correction from fellow employees

  • Practice maintaining eye contact whenever communicating with both the junior and the senior members of staff

  • Learn and practice the use of appropriate gestures during conversations in order to ensure that the message is properly encoded by listeners.

  • Learn and practice how to use appropriate volume when speaking

  • Practice the correct pronunciation of words and be willing to be corrected

  • Learn to slow down and use appropriate tone when confronted by other parties to the communication in order to avoid being perceived as emotional or nervous.

Evaluation

Thesuccess of these actions will be evaluated on the basis of whetherthe pre-determined objectives (including the use of communication toestablish relationships, enhance professional image, facilitatedecision making, and communicate clearly) will have been achieved bythe end of the year 2015.

Differentcompanies use different strategies to establish communicationnetworks. The John Lewis Partnership, similar to other businessenterprises has an established communication process that facilitatesthe passage of information between the stakeholders. The basicelements of the partnership’s communication process include thesource, encoding, channel, decoding, receiver, and the feedback.However, communication within the partnership is often affected bynoise, language barriers, poor listening skills, and rigid firmpolicies. These barriers can be overcome through training. A personalplan for the development of communication skills can help inaddressing the communication weaknesses, such as communicate clearthrough out a given session, inability to link communication withpersonal image, lack of the ability to use communication as aneffective tool to establish sound relationships, and inability to useeffective communication in decision making.

Taskfour: Improving systems related to knowledge and information

4.1:Approaches used in collection, formatting, storage, and disseminationof knowledge and information at John Lewis Partnership

JohnLewis is a service firm that operates in the retail sector. The firmhas both internal and external resources. The partnership collectsinformation that is related to company’s services and products,customers, economy and market trends, and internal operations (JohnLewis Partnership, 2015, p. 1). The firm values and uses theinformation and knowledge to improve the services it delivers to itsclients. Information collection is multidepartment task, which meansthat there is no specific department that has been given theresponsibility of collecting the information and knowledge. Forexample, the marketing department collect information related tocustomers (include changes in customer behavior) while the departmentof finance collects information about the market trends. The firmdoes not have a standard method of formatting information that iscollected by different departments. The information and knowledgethat is collected in the soft copy form is stored in the commondataset located at the headquarters, London, while the hard copyrecords are stored within the premises of the stores that collectedit. In most cases, the information is disseminated through the firm’swebsite and mails from the head office or from the top management ofthe respective stores to the junior managers and members of staff.

4.2:Changes to improve approaches used by John Lewis to collect, format,store, and disseminate knowledge and information

Datacollection: John Lewis has been collecting information only the whenthe management deems it right to do so, and without the guidance ofany policy. This increases the risk of collecting biased informationand knowledge, which is unreliable. To this end, the partnershipshould develop an information and knowledge collection policy. Inaddition, the partnership should allow the participation of employeesin the process of collecting information and knowledge, instead ofleaving these roles to the manager and administrators.

Formatting:The partnership has no standard procedure for formatting theinformation. The management should, therefore, develop standardprocedures that will ensure that the information is formatted in away that makes it clear and short and remove non-value addingknowledge and information.

Storage:Part of the information and knowledge is stored within the storepremises. The partnership should upgrade its database system so thatthe data can be uploaded to a common cloud and be accessed fromonline from any store or geographical location. This is because cloudfacilities help companies in saving on the cost of the data storagefacilities (Aljabre, 2012, p. 234).

Dissemination:The partnership should use the latest methods of disseminatinginformation and knowledge, which include the Google Drive, Dropbox,and SkyDrive. These are effective methods that will allow allemployees and managers to upload and access information from anylocation using electronic devices. For example, employees andsupervisors can be requested to upload research and investigationreports in the drop box, where the respective managers anddepartments can access them.

4.3:Systems that should be used to enhance access to systems of knowledgeand information on John Lewis Partnership

Aftermaking the necessary changes, the partnership will store informationin the online sharing cloud that can be accessed from anygeographical location. However, this creates the need for dataencryption and the introduction of a password system to ensure thatthe information cannot be accessed by unauthorized persons (Apostu,2014, p. 119). All users should be given the passwords that the needto access different files stored in the cloud. In addition, there isa need for the creation of an index to help users comprehend thestructure of the entire cloud. This will improve convenience in theinformation and knowledge sharing within the organization.

Themanagement of John Lewis should focus on the development of a cultureof data gathering and making decisions based on reliable informationthat has been collected in the past. This culture can motivate thecompany to utilize a cloud-based database, where all informationpertaining to the company is stored and retrieved when the need fordecision making arises. This implies that John Lewis should adopt adecision support system as the major type of information system. Thisimplies that the cloud-based system should be supported bycomputer-built models that can help the supervisors and managers inmaking decisions faster and accurately.

Collection,formatting, storage, and dissemination of knowledge and informationare significant processes that have contributed towards the successof the John Lewis Partnership. The data collected by the partnershipis used to inform decisions. However, these processes are someweaknesses, such as the improper storage of data and the lack of apolicy to guide the process of collecting data. These challenges canbe overcome by adopting a cloud system and develop the culture ofusing reliable information when making decisions.

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