Thursday, October 19, 2006

Effective learning is the key for enhancing quality in management and leadership

Successful organizational management is based on right knowledge and managerial skills to use the knowledge for the current business needs. Organizational knowledge is particularly based on exchange of information between customers, employees, shareholders, suppliers, business partners, and the great public.

Organizational and personal learning are prerequisites for enhancing management/leadership skills in striving for business success. These skills are needed at different levels in organizations, including the board, executives, directors, managers, process owners, project managers, and individuals (self-management).

Aim of the Knowledge Work Environment (KWE) is to facilitate effective and efficient knowledge-intensive and networked business activities. Management/leadership is most important area of these activities in all organizations. KWE provides means for learning through improving internal and external interactive and collaborative communication of management, and building social knowledge and intelligence. Management learning is integrated with normal managing activities of the business leaders.

Typically management learning in organizations is based on training by traditional or e-learning means. However, investments in these solutions have not proved effective. Only basic management/leadership skills may be learned by traditional training programs. Business leaders are busy and not interested in using ordinary e-learning means. E-learning solutions based on “learning management systems” have not been encouraging. Systems are too expensive, learning too boring, search of material (learning objects) too cumbersome, and reusable objects not really reusable. Additional challenge is that half-life of the relevant business knowledge has shortened. KWE provides remarkable improvement to the current problems of organizational training and e-learning applications.

Effective learning requires application of new learning theories like connectivity, interactivity, and sharing information. Factually 80% of learning takes place by informal learning, e.g. by serendipic or parasitic learning. KWE is to realize these new learning theories in practical business cases by using modern IT (Interactive Technology) solutions. It also facilitates learning in networks which is practical situation in all business cases.On-the-job learning offers cost-effective way to link learning to the organizational needs and priorities.

KWE consists of ability to lead knowledge workers into electronic work areas, where they work in collaboration to learn by building new knowledge. They have also all relevant explicit information easily available through related documents. The basic KWE tools include blog, wiki, aggregator, forums, and files that are based on modern proved social software and Web 2.0 technology. Software for the tools-components are from the open source software community that is the biggest resource in the world for developing software products. Open software is easy to modify and customize, and it provides rapid application development.

A practical and significant example of managerial learning environment is related to organization’s strategic management process. Strategic management is strongly knowledge-based collaborative and innovative activity, and typically involved by organization's board of directors, executing managers, selected experts, personnel and stakeholders' representatives. KWE provides a new innovative approach for integrating quality into a management system and in that way realizing also a modern "quality management system". In organizations, there is a lot of similar networked collaborative knowledge-intensive cooperation. Especially benefits of using the KWE approach are obvious in cases where participants are busy and geographically scattered and where arranging synchronous of physical meetings is difficult. Typical cases suitable for KWE include expert groups, e.g. product designers, HRM people, quality managers, maintenance people, project groups, process teams, supplier or customer networks, networked SME's, e.g. small cooperating consulting or expert companies, and networked learning in educational institutes.


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