Global Organizational Action Research

The Minds of Individuals Powering the Organization

Introduction

Imagine if someone were to turn off the electricity in an organization.  There would be no light, climate control, communication and productivity would grind to a screeching halt.  But there is another source of power that is not as visible but without it the company would be as lost as it would be without power - and that power is the flow of knowledge and expertise.  Without an effective knowledge sharing and collaborative environment, the organizational power spike will simply become an electrical shortage.    

The better the organization is at harnessing their employee’s knowledge as their energy source, the more successful they will become in keeping their competitive advantages in the market place.  Companies must find a way to share knowledge, collaborate more efficiently and continually improve their processes to keep the knowledge grid at its maximum potential.  

Knowledge is Power

Photo: Beeoasis.com
The Power of Personal Connections

Knowledge Sharing and Collaboration

The problem that I want to address at my workplace is how do I find information easily and effectively in one place? I spend countless hours toiling through hundred of emails searching for answers that are archived somewhere in one of my folders or in someone else’s brain. Because I work in a company has a global presence, there are times where I cannot simply pick up the phone to reach out to my United Kingdom and Asia Pacific's counterparts in order to find what I'm looking for because they are unavailable. How can our organization extract this knowledge so that it can be found easily?

Human capital is the resources that each of our employees has available within their own mental and physical capacity. Currently, everyone is working within their own areas of expertise. A co-worker working on a specific project, application or service has his or her own document repository and the only way we can have exposure to it is to ask the teammate for it. What if the co-worker leaves for vacation? Even worse, what if the teammate leaves the company? They would then take their intimate organizational knowledge with them and the company will lose that intellectual property for good unless there is a way to promote knowledge sharing and collaboration. Another reason for knowledge sharing is that it increases productivity through social capital.  The resources I can "borrow" from others, if I have good social and technical ties, multiplies the effectiveness of work.  

Overarching Research Question:

"How do I improve and facilitate knowledge sharing and collaboration in my company?"

There are three research cycles for my research project:

Research cycle one - If I implement a blog/forum and introduce it to my peers, would they contribute relevant information and knowledge so that it could be accessible when needed?

Research cycle two - How would introducing a Wiki to our internal community of practice with personal interactions further facilitate knowledge sharing?

Research cycle three - If I interviewed my team to find out what their thoughts were about our recent research cycles, what would I discover from these one on ones that would improve our SharePoint site so that the team would use the site more often?

Improving through Action Research

Action research is a process of inquiring about one’s practice to improve upon it by taking stock in the form of ‘reflection’.   Upon reflective thought, one instills changes into their processes so that it can improve processes to make them more effective and efficient. 

There are four steps in action research. 

Step 1:  Study and Plan – What needs to get accomplished?  What process is inefficient, insufficient or needs change?

Step 2:  Take Action – What and how will the researcher attempt to make changes to the process?

Step 3:  Collect and Analyze Evidence – What items will be collected?  (Surveys, interviews, statistics etc.)

Step 4:  Reflect – Take steps 1 thru 3 in to account and analyze it.  Once the researcher has done his/her analysis, what can be infused into the next cycle to make it better or to solicit a desired outcome?


Action Research Process

Photo: Center for Collaborative Action Research

Once all four of the steps have been completed, this would constitute a cycle.  Action research can contain multiple cycles.  It is important to note that one of the most important element of action research is the change that the researcher experiences, not so much the change that they are trying to pursue.