10.2.5 Case study

An automotive enterprise set up a project team for improving knowledge management in the company. But soon they had to realise that members of the organisation were not willing to contribute to the project. It was obvious that there was an underlying organisational culture problem. As a result, they carried out an organisational culture analysis. The methods used to analyse the current culture were:

  • Questionnaires: These were distributed personally by the heads of the departments, and a very good return ratio of approximately 40% was reached.
  • Interviews: The verbal questioning took place in the form of semi-structured interviews with 7 executives and 15 employees (heads of departments and groups as well as other opinion leaders). With the use of semi-structured interviews the team pursued two goals: a) to obtain comparative answers, and b) to get more detailed information.
  • Observation: This method is used for supporting or verifying the results of other methods.  Members of the project team participated in meetings and discussions involving executives and other leading staff.

The definition of the organisation culture and the establishment of measures took place in workshops with executives and other opinion leaders.

The most important development measures were:

  • Info corners should be established as a central meeting place for the employees. Apart from general news and facts about the organisation, the place could also be used as a central location for idea management. This meant that suggestions could be delivered and inspected there and/or the best ideas presented there to encourage the creativity of the employees.
  • A common communication tool for the heads of  departments could be the implementation of an incentive tour for executives (e.g. one weekend per year) focusing on the maintenance and development of social and interpersonal relationships. The same type of activity could be organised at lower hierarchical levels, too.
  • Organisation of regular discussion platforms using regular discussions (e.g. monthly) between groups and/or departments, especially for units which do not cooperate very often, made the elimination of interface problems and the creation of a structure of a mutual understanding more possible.
  • Presentation of project experiences that focused not on the project itself, but the positive and negative experiences during the course of the project (e.g. presentation of the three largest errors and the three best ideas).
  • Organisation of knowledge transfer days when current and final projects from all fields were presented, allowed all units/departments to be informed about projects and fostered the generation of new ideas and/or new knowledge in another context.
  • Coaching for young employees increased their ability to act quickly. This required the training of coaches, who could also be seen as the future generation of executives.1


1 www.isn.at/downloads/Artikel/isn_Artikel_knowledgemanagement_OKLC2004.pdf viewed at 04.05.2008