Knowledge Management in the Construction Industry: A Socio-Technical Perspective is a very integrated book with blend of different knowledge management related issues and strategies to overcome these difficulties within the construction industry. The book talks about various concepts, methods, models, examples, international insight and real-life tools concerning management of knowledge in the construction industry.
The author of the book Dr. Abdul Samad Kazi is Senior Principal Scientist, Smart Energy and Transport at VTT. His main research and publication areas have been: knowledge management, systemic innovation, service innovation, ICT for construction projects and processes, and open building manufacturing. Dr. Kazi has been an active initiator and manager of more than 30 large scale international research projects and the book speaks for his vast experience.
Experience is the only source of knowledge and this has been one of the controlling philosophies of the construction industry. Skills were passed on from senior laborers to newly joined workforce. The ancient construction industry had skilled craftsmen, artists and designers. Industrialization and large-scale projects aiming at higher profits has over the years changed the way the construction industry functions currently. Over a period of time, management focus has changed from transfer of skills to shortening construction schedules, optimizing costs, and effectively employing supplies. As time proceeded, larger projects needed IT solutions to help manage executions. These solutions began to support and maintain the process of transferring skills replacing the traditional process.
Nowadays, the new recruits in the construction industry sit in front of a computer to administer projects and collect data, as a replacement to spending time on a construction site. With 40% to up to 70% of the skilled workforce retiring within the next 15-20 years, the skilled workforce is constantly depleting. The desire to apprehend their experiences and skills cannot be stressed. Concepts like "knowledge" and "knowledge management" were not very much considered in the past, such outlooks have changed. Knowledge management or experience management could be the answer to counter balance the effects of depleting skilled workforce.
This book bestows a study of various theories, techniques, prototypes, and instruments supported by case studies all over the world, delivering understandings into the management of knowledge in construction. Overcoming the rumors, useful resources of implementing knowledge management through various means and methods are established. Case studies ranging from the implementation of decision support systems, external provision of knowledge management services, learning histories, innovation, human resources management, and so forth provide enriching practical experiences in knowledge management implementation in the construction industry. This book is organized into 18 chapters covering different apects of knowledge management.
This book is not a textbook on knowledge management, nor is it an introductory text on the construction industry. It is actually a compilation of comprehensive standpoints, practical experiences, and studies on knowledge management in the industry. While revisiting the introduction of socio-technical opinion, it takes you to discovering concepts for knowledge management in the construction industry.
Knowledge Management In The Construction Industry: A Socio-Technical Perspective presents concepts, applications and case studies on how the construction industry is endeavoring to comprehend and incorporate concepts of knowledge management into their work and tactics. The author has tried to best fit the encounters faced by an industry where from 40 - 70% of the skilled workforce is retiring within the next 15-20 years. There is an urgent need to capture and record their knowledge and experiences. Dr. Kazi draws from the experiences of many countries: Australia, the United Kingdom, Israel, Hong Kong, South Africa, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Finland, the United Arab Emirates, Taiwan, and the United States of America. The book is a mix of practice, investigation, and prescience in the form of international examples.
The first topic discussed is about developing a knowledge management system for capturing project-generated knowledge. The total system and system elements of the industry needs to be relaxed to be used by all parties involved. Knowledge creators and users are the best sources to work with the mechanisms for its management. This explains the reason why companies should not use the setup that has been introduced from outside. The nature of the projects undertaken by the companies should be the judging criteria in order to instrument the mix of tacit knowledge and explicit knowledge in the industry. The projects should be classified based on project types, sizes and disciplines. The liberal advancement of knowledge may lead to important changes in methods. Thus, flexibility and customizability are critical factors.
Knowledge management should be based on best practices and lessons learnt examples from t the organization. Technology should be used as an instrument, but should not be bound or complicated by it. Practical knowledge and experiences should be identified as soon as possible, rather than delaying till the entire completion. People should establish contact with each other and lead communications.
After managing, the next part is promoting knowledge sharing. Knowledge sharing is the foundation of any Knowledge management(KM) platform. Without mechanisms for the workforce to transfer what they know, KM cannot be achieved. Personnel must be acknowledged and recompensed for following the mechanism set up with an ideology of reciprocity and mutual pledge. Construction companies must integrate their knowledge management strategies with their business policies.
External provision of Knowledge management services has very important comprehension in all the capacities. Traditional information suppliers with concentrations in particular areas of knowledge can explore opportunities for externally providing KM services to others. Marketing also has a vital role to play, especially comparing relationship of marketing attitudes against costs and chances.
The knowledge managers must be carefully evaluated under KM so that the firms and the projects do not have any negative effects. Project teams and specially project managers must be armed problem-solving knowledge both internally and externally from their firms.
Another important aspect of knowledge management is establishing its relation with intellectual capital report. The first level for preparing an intellectual capital report is the creation of a heterogeneous steering committee headed by senior executives. Diversity of input from all the employees to contribute to the process is very important mark in this process. This is mostly achieved by organizing a knowledge cafÃ© workshop. Creating vision and core values for an organization and then communicating to the employees help create positive energies.
Identify the core companies needed to realize the vision, and define the key success factors for each of the companyâ€™s core competencies. Identify tangible indicators for each key success factor, and categorize them into one of the four capital areas: human, process, customer, and renewal and development capital. Finally, collect and analyze the relevant information and knowledge about different indicators from the companyâ€™s existing database, and formulate them into an in-depth intellectual report of your organization.
Any knowledge management system should be designed to enable capture and retrieval, as well as sharing. Whether one can learn from the knowledge and experiences of others will depend greatly on oneâ€™s willingness to share oneâ€™s knowledge with others. In simple words, the more you share, the more you receive.
Knowledge usually resides in the minds of the individuals, and it is through sharing and socialization that this knowledge is elicited. Sharing of knowledge can be fostered by cultivating social capital. Knowledge is context specific and cannot be generalized. Failures and mistakes provide valuable lessons to be learned.
COPs are already â€˜out thereâ€™, organizations should recognize their usefulness and power for knowledge creation and sharing. COPs can be guided, supported and nurtured by organizations, though a heavy-handed approach should be discouraged. COPs can be an effective support mechanism for ICT innovation diffusion. COP types need to be established within organizations that services differently the needs of people at various levels within organizations.
Sticky knowledge is a feature of tacit knowledge, but it can be made less sticky through effective COP actions. COPs are already â€˜out thereâ€™; organizations should recognize their usefulness and power for knowledge creation and sharing, and capitalize on their capacity to expand their scope and scale through the ubiquity of the web.
The case studies indicate how a range of COP types can be effectively managed using Web portal technologies â€“ the software needs to be well established to service different needs of people at various levels within organizations, and so considerable features do need to be incorporated. The sigma connect tool provides a useful benchmark of functionality.
The dynamic profiling and other smart features of these tools enable people to be more effectively connected through their expressed interests that are tracked by the COPâ€™s management tool.
Individuals learning on its own is not sufficient for an organization to maximize the benefits from reflection. Reflective practices benefits the organizations and, when seen as a social process, contributes to organizational learning. Mechanism for sharing individual knowledge and experience need to be addressed explicitly by organizations. Technology can assist organizations in making efficient use of their assts. The pilot project (COLA) resulted in improving accessibility and information sharing between employee, enabling knowledge and learning captured to be shared for the benefit of future projects. The process fostered a spirit of trust and cooperation amongst project individuals, organizations and stake holders.
Competencies in knowledge management is important for graduates and professionals working in a knowledge-intensive industry. Learning how to learn is an important skill of knowledge management. Learning to cooperate with others to reach mutual goals is a prerequisite for working in a knowledge society. Encourage the use of all possible types of communication channels (formal and informal, physical and virtual) to support knowledge sharing. The community will find the most effective way to share knowledge.
Companies willing to improve their OL should use a procedure to measure their current state of OL ability. The measurement of OL ability necessitates both evaluating the knowledge management abilities as well as the appropriateness of the company culture. The companies having OL ability are expected to perform better than the others. Thus, the time and financial funds reserved to increase OL should be seen as high return investments that will lead to long-term success.
Although knowledge is seen as a major source of competitive advantage, learning mechanism are not utilized frequently and learning from other parties is not given enough importance. Even though mechanisms are used to create organizational knowledge, unavailability of knowledge-sharing and knowledge-storage decreases the OL competency. Necessary performances measurement systems and reward mechanisms are usually not in place to promote learning.
Organizations learning, and the concept of learning history, must be clearly understood by all stakeholders so that any fear can be overcome. A learning history tool builds trust and facilitates successful communication. A successful organization will encourage quality human interactions. Organizational leadership must be open in order to facilitate the learning history toll and encourage communication. An organizationâ€™s most valuable non-capital recourse is its knowledge, which must be captured, and subsequently transferred, before it is lost.
A learning history tool adds value far beyond producing documentation, in that the process itself, particularly reflective interviews, gives stakeholders the opportunity to discuss their experience and therefore enables a form of knowledge capture. Acquired knowledge must be constantly managed in order to benefit from the increasing trend of organizations that consist of high numbers of knowledge workers with specialty expertise. Applying learning history is one approach to successfully manage this knowledge.
Construction projects are streams of disturbances punctuated by crises and occasional
episodes of calm. The skills of project management (Boyd & Wild, 1999) includes :
â€¢ Coping with discontinuity at start up
â€¢ Eliciting organizing behavior: consulting to the uncertainty in the client
â€¢ "Est" working in left- and right-brain modes
â€¢ Handling network centrality
â€¢ Holding and sharing power, laterally and vertically
â€¢ Negotiating and re-negotiating: contracts, roles, and expectations
â€¢ Skills of collaboration: managing the uncertainty in the project
The challenge is for the construction industry is to embrace its commitment to a style and form of leadership that not only empowers its knowledge workforce, but also positively supports and underpins them with appropriate infrastructure, the means to unleash innovation and creativity. Three tools illustrated below can he used to help facilitate use of the K-Adv.
1. Soft systems methodology is a highly useful diagnostic tool to unearth contextual knowledge about elements of the K-Adv.
2. Benchmarking can be undertaken using the K-Adv matrices for each K-Adv sub-section, and these can be used to undertake gap analysis that in turn can lead to development, formulation, and enactment of strategy.
3. The push-pull model of organizational learning forms a useful basis for a course grained benchmarking tool to measure absorptive capacity.
Project managers should consider the following when managing project definition meetings:
Project definition is the act of the defining the problem to be solved. Acknowledge that the process of developing project purpose is complex, and changes in project purpose are inherent over the course of project definition. Stakeholders may or may not understand the implications of their needs and values. Focus on the creative process verses the administrative controlling aspects of
project management. Ensure process quality through thorough stakeholder identification, sound meeting agendas, and meeting facilitation. Consider the impacts when choosing a particular problem-solving methodology. Organizational boundaries often limit the creative process. Search internally and externally for solutions to stakeholder needs.
A DSS system is field specific. It is developed and used to support the process of decision making in a specific field such as enterprise business, healtheare, or construction. Processes must be carefully reviewed and evaluated prior to considering a DSS. The IT, network, and Internet infrastructure of the organisation are essential factors for successful implementation of a DSS. DSSs support decision makers, but do not replace them. Talents such as creativity, imagination, or intuition shouldn't he ignored in the course of making a decision.
Knowledge management is necessary in any life cycle phase of construction projects. The content and method of knowledge management in a construction project will be different in each life cycle phase. Without the Internet, it is impossible to run knowledge management successfully
for construction projects. A knowledge map is one of best ways to illustrate whether the knowledge is available and where the knowledge is located in construction projects. The way and method of application in construction knowledge management will differ from the size and culture of various construction corporations.
For the efficient management of environment-related knowledge, it is essential to integrate data and information from various dispersed tools and applications. In order to promote the implementation of the E+ model, further research is needed to transfer he E+ model to a computer software environment, improve current EM tools, and develop more EM approaches as subsidiary components of the E+ system to deal with all adverse environmental impacts of construction on the purpose of total EM in construction project management. Although the software environment of the E+ has not been presented, the demonstration of the E+ model in the experimental case study enabled a closer understanding of how the E+ system can be effectively applied for EM in construction, and it also unveiled that the E+ methodology is flexible in the integrative implementation of functional-different quantitative approaches to EM in construction.
The configurable environments approach is a medium-term vision for design and construction practice. Many of the constituent elements of CEs- including visualization, data standards, and analysis tools- -exist in at least rudimentary form, allowing firms to begin incorporating the technology into practice. Firms should begin to consider the implications of CEs and related tools for job descriptions. As information technologies evolve, they will shift the balance of job tasks from information gathering to analysis. Firms should consider grooming younger employees for such changes.
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