The relationship between the form of production and the

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					   The relationship between the form
     of production and the form of
             Jaakko Virkkunen
            University of Helsinki

The content of my presentation
* The problem of form of knowledge in
   the development of KM-systems

* What does the form of production mean

* What does the form of knowledge mean

* Implications for knowledge management
The problem
Three researchers analyzed in 1999 the knowledge
management systems of consulting companies.
They found that
   -some firms had systems that focused on supporting
    the identification of persons who have knowledge
    on a special area and making contact with them

    - some firms had systems that focused on the reuse
      of methods once developed and dissemination of
      ”best practices”
it was not possible to combine these two types of systems
or the firm using one type to utilize also the other.
Hansen, Nohria, Tierny 1999. What is your strategy form managing knowledge? HBR 77, 106-117.
The form and principle of carrying out the consulting activity
was fundamentally different in these two firms.

Therefore they also needed quite different ways of managing

There is no such thing as a generally applicable best
knowledge-management practice.

How then to develop knowledge management in the firm?

A good start is to understand its developmental challenges
and possibilities of the production activity of the firm.
The two contradictory challenges in the
development of the form of production

                       and scope
Historically evolved solutions to the challenges
                           5. Co-configuration
                    4. Mass
       2. Mass    3. Process
       production enhancement

                    2b. Client-group
                    based result-unit
       1 Craft      structures,
       production   outsourcing             Increasing
                                            and scope
Historical forms of              4 Transformation            Co-
production and                   of knowledge
four transformations                                      knowledge
of form of                              Mass
                    3 Transformation Customization
knowledge           of knowledge     Architectural

             2 Transformation   Process
             of knowledge       Practical
1 Transformation Production
of knowledge     Articulated   Consulting firm 2

    knowledge     Consulting firm 1
                                                        B.Victor & A.Boynton, 1988
Aspects of the form of knowledge
- is always relative to a context (figure in a
- consists of generalizations that

- are reached through a specific process
- exists in a medium: tools, forms of practice,
  language, representational artefacts like
  drawings, diagrams etc.
In each form of production (work)
* a different type of knowledge is needed/used
* knowledge is created in a different way
* knowledge is preserved in a different type of
* additional knowledge accumulates that is not
  utilizable in the current form of production
  but is necessary for creating the next, more
  effective, more flexible form
Victor & Boynton, 1998
In human activities the central context of knowledge always
is the joint venture/activity which is carried out through the
individual actors’ (workers’, units’ organizations’)

Following the current metaphoric use of the word ’platform’
we can say that there is always a knowledge structure that
forms a platform for the individual actors to place their
contribution on. The organization of knowledge and the
organization of work go hand in hand.

The form of knowledge in work organizations can be
characterized by the prevalent nature of the knowledge
platforms used to coordinate activities.
The first transformation of the form of
production and the form of knowledge:
”development, & standardization”
                  Craft production            Mass production
Context of        Concrete situations in     A phase and task sequence
knowledge,        producing the product      of the production of a
the platform                                 standardized product
                  Learning by doing          Expert’s study tasks in
Process of        using traditional          order to find the best way
generalizing      tools and methods          to perform them
                                             The optimal sequence of
Generalizations   Rules of thumb, recepies   elementary work
Medium of         Individuals’ memory
preserving        and senso-motor habits,    Written work standards
knowledge         tacit knowledge
The key to success in mass production is the continuous
diminishing of unit costs and increasing the scale of the

The knowledge management system has to serve this

The way to do this is to diminish variation and eliminate
unique, craft elements from the production as far as

Workers who repeat same tasks over and over again gain
much practical knowledge that is in mass production,
however, not utilized effectively.
 The second transformation: ”linking
Aspects of the
form of knowledge Mass production               Process enhancement
 Context of       A phase and task sequence    Order-delivery proceses of a
 knowledge,       of the production of a       set of standard products.
 the platform     standardized product         Two way communicatition.
                  Expert’s study tasks in      Worker teams improve
 Process of       order to find the best way   continously the work
 generalizing     to perform them              standards, switshing from
                                               production to problem solving
Generalizations    The optimal sequnce of    Optimal ways of linking
                   elementary work           processes together in the
                   operations                order delivery chains
Medium of
preserving         Written work instructions Continuously improved
                                             written work instructions
Process enhancement/flexible production is
based on continuous improvement of
flexibility, quality and productivity at the
same time through collaborative problem
solving in work teams and quality circles.

The knowledge management system has to
suppoert the continous improvement.
Therefore customer feedbac and the system
of producing and processing improvement
suggestions are central parts of it.
The third transformation: ”modularization”
of product and production
Aspects of the
form of knowledge   Process enhancement           Mass customization
Context of          Order-delivery proceses of    A product platform and
knowledge,          a set of standard products.   product modules. Dynamic
the platform        Two way communicatition.      production network.
Process of          Worker teams improve          Relating aspects of the
                    continously the work          product to varying
generalizing                                      customer needs and tastes
                    Optimal ways of linking       Minimum set of module
Generalizations     processes together in the     variants needed to cover
                    order delivery chains         relevant variation in
                                                  customer needs
Medium of           Continuously improved         Computerized product and
preserving          written work instructions     production platform
 Producer-client interface platform
 in mass customization
                          Architectural knowledge:
            how to divide the product in modules in a way that is
           sensible for the client and for the production, on what
          dimensions do the clients’ need vary in an important way

  Dynamic                       M1 M2
                                a,b,c   a,b,c
  network     Koordinator       M3 M4                Client
                                a,b,c   a,b,c
modules and                     M5 M6
assembling                      a,b,c   a,b,c
                     Product platform with optional modules
Co-configuration work
 1 Customer-intelligent product that can be continuously adapted
   to changing conditions and customer needs

 2 The producer does not customize the product only once but

 3 The customer is draw into a new kind of value-creation
   system in which, the value is not produced in the producing activity
   nor in the user activity but in the interaction between these

 4 The customer can ”teach” the product and the producer can
   update and develop it through changes in the software

 5 The product becomes increasingly well adapted to customer’s
   needs but it is newer ready
                                                  B. Victor & A. Boynton 1998
        Monthly review of production

                            manager of
                            a pulp mill,
                            the client
Process- optimization
software specialists
of the provider
                              ss dat
                           oce P C
                        Pr t h e
Three expansive transitions needed to move to co-
configuration in process automation; three forms of

1 Integration of IC-technology and the know-how
  and technology concerning the specific activity in
  which the product is a tool

2 Integration of provider’s activity through the
  product with the users’ activity, expansion from
  separate transactions to continuous partnership

3 Integration of production, maintenance and
  product development, expansion from fixed
  product to continuous problem solving and
 The fourth transformation ”informatization and
Aspects of the
form of knowledge Mass customization           Co-configuration
Context of        A product platform and      A cumulative real-time
                  product modules. Dynamic    representation of the state of
knowledge,                                    the object and process of the
the platform      production network.
                                              client’s activity
Process of        Relating aspects of the     Data-based dialogue and
                  product to varying          mutual learning between the
generalizing      customer needs and tastes   provider and the client
                   Minimum set of module      Product configuration that
Generalizations    variants needed to cover   serves increasingly well
                   relevant variation in      the client’s needs
                   customer needs
Medium of          Computerized product and   Real-time or frequently
preserving         production platform        updated electronic database
                                              recording changes in client’s
knowledge                                     process

Developing knowledge management is to take a step
forward in the development of the activity to
meet the current challenges of increasing scale and/or
scope and flexibility of the production process.

A good ”diagnosis” is needed of
- the current form of the production
- important new challenges in developing it
- the accumulated knowledge of the production that
  can be leveraged in the following step forward.

In each step the existing knowledge is reorganized
according a new principle.
An example of changes in the form of production:
the Baretta gun factory (R.Jaikumar, 1988)
                                                   Production concept
Productivity,                                      (form of production,
(quantitative                                      (qualitative/structural
change)                                            changes)
                                                   Integrated automation
                                                   Cell productio
                                                   Taylor’s system
                                                   American production
         400                                       system
                                                   English production
        100                                        system
           Time   ca 1800 1860   1928   19761987
 Types of knowledge in                 4 Transformation
                                       of knowledge
 the forms of production                                       knowledge
                           3 Transformation Customization
                           of knowledge      Architectural

           2 Transformation      Process
           of knowledge          Practical
1 Transformation Production
of knowledge     Articulated

                                                             B.Victor & A.Boynton, 1988
     The medium
     that carries
data on a                                               Explanatory
model                                                   power of
Graphical                                          Origin,
models                                             principle of
                                                   why                         Functioning
Words,                                                                         system
concepts                            chains

Individuals’           External qualities,
senso-motor            what                                               The
habits                                                                    organization
               Separate Hierarchic Phase        System of Genetic         of knowledge
               facts,   classification sequence interactions sequence,
               skills                                        life-cycle
The structure of production
centered knowledge

               Mass                                            Order-delivery
             Production                                        processes
             knowledge                                        Phase sequence
    Craft                       Areas of responsibility
    Tacit                       and authority
                                                          B.Victor & A.Boynton, 1988
There are five basic types of knowledge platforms
5. Genetic
   Applied in product life-cycle management,
   co-configuration production

4. Systemic interactive
  Typical to flexible production and
   concurrent engineering

3. Sequential
  Typical to industrial mass production in which
   the sequential order of production process
   defines the functions individuals or units have
   to perform

2. Hierarchical classificatory
  Typical of late craft and early bureaucratic organizations,
  defines inclusion/exclusion, responsibilities and authority

1. Unsystematic, situational
   Typical to craft work
       Co-configuration production

        The provider’s          The clients’s tools

Provider                                       The client
organization                                   organization

    A transparent platform that depicts the change and
    state of an object of activity the user and the
    provider partly share