I’m working on a management multi-part question and need an explanation and answer to help me learn.
Assume that you are a consulting team, brought in by David Martin, COO of Lexington Labs (LL), to identify the company’s problems and provide recommendations for addressing them.
Write a report, as if to your client, that (as indicated below) describes the nature of the general type of problem they face and then offers a set of recommendations. (Be sure that whatever you write is put into simple, straightforward (jargon-free) language for your client.)
More specifically, your report should:
- Describe the problem: LL’s primary concern in the case has to do with their failure to, as the title says, make “local knowledge global.” Explain to your client why you believe that is the case, supporting your analysis with at least a few specific examples of times when one or more regions failed to share knowledge they had that could have been useful to share with others.
- Offer recommendations: As organizational consultants, your concern is not to simply recommend ways to fix each of the particular problems LL is currently having. Instead focus on systemic changes (i.e., changes to the company’s current systems or processes) that not only address the current problems, but also prevent (or quickly address) similar problems in the future. Your recommendations should include some short-term recommendations, which Lexington Labs could use to start turning things around fairly quickly, but you can also include longer-term recommendations (e.g., restructuring might take a while). Feel free to be creative; you may suggest changing reward systems, technology, structure, personnel, etc. But be sure to consider the ideas discussed in chapter 6 of your textbook and the articles that your various teammates read.
And be sure to be specific about what you’re recommending for solving LL’s various problems. David Martin needs to know what to do, not just have some vague ideas thrown at him. Again, be sure to avoid using course jargon that he might not understand.
Think creatively and critically! If you think some of your ideas have some downsides or limitations the client should know about, discuss them.
Divide the following four articles up among members of your team
Each of these articles discusses some ideas that could be used to address the problems that LL is having. In addition, Chapter 6 of the textbook discusses various global coordination mechanisms that could help. Jot down ideas that you think would be useful for addressing the problems at LL. Consider both short-term solutions (i.e., ideas that could resolve some of their problems very quickly) as well as long-term solutions (that might take a while to pay off, but could help in the long run).
A. “Managing the global workforce: Challenges and strategies”
If you’re reading this article, you’ll note that the material on knowledge dissemination and innovation transfer will be of particular relevance to LL. (Deployment and talent development issues aren’t as relevant, but are still worth considering in the context of LL.) Four potential solutions are discussed; think about the purposes each might serve for LL. Bear in mind that at the time the article was written (in 1998!), virtual solutions weren’t as well developed as they are now. Your classmate reading the “Overcoming barriers…” article will have more to say about how to utilize virtual solutions. Also, your classmate reading the “Repatriates as a source of competitive advantage” article will have more information on how to tap into the potential of “awareness building” assignments for improving information sharing.
B. “Overcoming barriers to knowledge sharing in virtual teams”
Technology can obviously be of great assistance in helping companies share information across international borders. But just having technology doesn’t ensure that it always gets used. This article discusses some of the barriers to knowledge sharing. It then discusses ways that leaders can encourage knowledge sharing, the need for rules/expectations about what gets shared and how, the need to use the right technologies for the right purposes, and how to overcome cultural barriers to information sharing. Note: what the authors describe as a “transactive memory system” (TMS) is not a database of expert knowledge, but rather a systematic collection of information about who knows what. A well-developed TMS allows people to consult with the right people about problems they’re having.
C. “Encouraging knowledge sharing: The role of organizational reward systems”
People often hoard knowledge for good reason, and you’ll see some evidence of knowledge hoarding in the LL case. One way to overcome this is to reward knowledge sharing, and to give power to those who share, rather than hoard, information. This article talks about various formal and informal ways in which employees can share knowledge (including via electronic means), and discusses some options for rewarding those different means of sharing. Important issues like whether to reward individuals or groups and how to measure knowledge sharing are addressed. For example, it might be easy to measure whether people document their ideas or experiences in a database, but much harder to assess the usefulness of those contributions. (Note: The authors list various “propositions,” which are their hunches about how to encourage knowledge sharing, but these are largely untested propositions.)
D. “Repatriates as a source of competitive advantage: How to manage knowledge transfer”
You might wonder whether, in this age of electronic communication, there’s much to be gained from sending employees on lengthy international work assignments. Based on interviews with 47 “repats” (employees who have returned from working in other countries), this article identifies various benefits to be gained from such assignments. But it also discusses the problems employees face when returning to their home offices—in particular, to managers who have little knowledge of what they did while away and perhaps little motivation or ability to tap into their employees’ new expertise. The article then offers suggestions for how repatriates and their employers can improve the transfer of knowledge gained.