Rafael Lopes de Abreu Mendes de Toledo
Mestrado Profissional em Sistemas de Gestão /Laboratório de Tecnologia, Gestão de Negócios e Meio
Ambiente/UFF –R. Horácio Magalhães, 99 Independência- Cep: 25645-320 – Petrópolis-RJ –
55 (21) 2611-5911 – [email protected]
José Rodrigues de Farias Filho, D.Sc.
Mestrado Profissional em Sistemas de Gestão /Laboratório de Tecnologia, Gestão de Negócios e Meio
Ambiente/UFF –R. Passo da Pátria, 156/329-A, Caixa Postal: 100.175 - Cep: 24001-970 – Niterói-RJ –
55 (21) 2717-6390 - [email protected]
The retention of knowledge inside the organization is one of the biggest challenges. Inside
the organizations it is usual to work on the same problem several times because of the lack of
learning systematic of the organization. This article shows some alternatives for the organization
to retain the knowledge, based on systematic problems solution and in the standardization of the
best practices.
Key Words
Knowledge management
Problems solution
Best practices
1) Introduction
In an economy where the only certainty is uncertainty, the one sure source of lasting
competitive advantage is knowledge. (Nonaka, 1991)
The new economy, based now in knowledge is guided by flexibility, innovation, creation
and the use of knowledge to make decisions and in its own economical growth.
To Cavalcanti, the knowledge economy works with “new sources of competitive
advantage, as the ability to innovate and create new products and explore new markets”.
(Cavalcanti, 2001)
Peter Drucker says that “the basic resource of the economy is not money, or natural
resources, or work. It is knowledge. Value nowadays is created by the productivity and
innovation, both applications of the knowledge for work”. (Drucker, 1994).Knowledge and action
knowledge management leads to built actions and decisions in marketing, sales, human resources,
customer attending, telemarketing, production, etc. For all this, knowledge is being known as a
resource, which needs to be managed to completely achieve the organizations goals.
Knowledge management implies a wide diversity of knowledge source, database, printed
documents, sites, employees, suppliers, etc. Its function is stimulating knowledge production,
putting it in a way that gives more meaning when related to the other information of the
organization. All information captured must be stored in an easy way to locate, use or reuse, and
the continuous learning of experiences prevents from redoing errors or works.
The organizational knowledge, “a company ability to create knowledge, disseminate it
inside the organization and incorporate it to products, services and systems”, is created in the
moment of the transformation of tacit knowledge in explicit knowledge and again in tacit.
Explicit knowledge can be easily shared through words and numbers; data, procedures and
formulas. Tacit knowledge is easier to be shared because it represents a strong personal character:
insights, experiences, believes, values and ideas. (Nonaka and Takuchi, 1997)
In economical knowledge it is evident the importance of a systematic action to identify,
capture, manage and share all the information in an organization. Knowledge has a key role in
leading the organization to its goals. This paper proposes a procedure for construction of
knowledge inside organizations: improvement teams, managing knowledge to improve the
development of urban transportation companies.
2. Review of the Literature:
Since 1990, Brazil has been giving a big and decisive step towards the free competition
market and the environment of that time has caught off guard by the economy sectors of low
competitiveness and productivity.
In 2002, Brazil lives in one-digit inflation. Unemployment and sub employment produces
serious consequences like violence and the disintegration of the Brazilian social system. The
transportation sector is inside this environment.
Companies competing and fighting for the same client, altering deeply the paradigms of
price and quality, characterize the competition market. The client now has more options of
purchase and services, and becomes more demanding. He is the center of the business process of
any organization.
The urban transportation companies did not adapt themselves to the changes of the
national scenario. After a persistent fall from 1994 to 2001, the main production indicator of
public transportation per bus, shows a stabilization tendency in much lower levels than in passed
The environment always influences organizations, and so, during the process of
establishing, the organization’s strategy must evaluate its main influences and the impacts they
may cause.
Scenarios, represented by systemic description of different futures and the paths which
connects it to the original situation, leads the transportation companies to reevaluate their
management model, which has never considered the improvement of productivity. So, the sector
shows great improvement opportunities in the business process, with the introduction of
improvement teams.
The biggest challenge of the work in urban transportation companies is to formulate and
corroborate specific strategies to increase competitivity, in a way that productivity of support
process increase and the economy made can be reverted into benefits to the clients (value offer).
The economic and social importance of the theme is indicated by Galbraith (apud Lima,
1996), when he affirms that, sooner or later, almost everybody will live in the city. The
urbanization process is more advanced in Brazil and in most of Latin America countries than in
others development areas. The urban Brazilian population is about 80%, but this number is
increasing as country population decreases more each day. People from the city needs mobility to
survive, without it, there is no access to jobs and essential services. Mobility costs, and
advantages are very important to determinate life quality of urban population. This is highly
linked to the pleasure or suffer after long hours spent in daily displacement.
The improvement teams are one of the various methods used in quality and productivity
management in urban transport to retain intellectual capital.
2.1) Improvement Teams
“No one can really know a process as good as the people who does it”. (Slack et al)
The drivers of a line are frequently those who know better, for instance, the itinerary or
can foresee the behavior of the demand after an operation change.
People, inside the systems, have access to formal as well as informal information net. As
so, they not only have experience in the process, but they are also the most affected by changes in
it. However, if individuals work isolated, it cannot add experience nor develop mutual learning.
According to Moscovici (1994), most of the specialists say, in the most recent books of
management and administration, that the future belongs to the organizations based on teams.
There are groups in all organizations, but teams are still rare, although some groups are named as
So, to have a double function in work (daily work and improvement), the TQM suggests
that working in teams is one of the main points in the work organization. (Shiba et al, 1997) Also
according to Moscovici (1994, p. 5), “one can consider a team a group who understands its goals
and is engaged in achieving it, in a sharing way”. (Id. 1994)
To a group become a team it is necessary to pay attention to its own way of working and
solving problems and the way that it affects its development. It is necessary to do a continuous
and cycled self-evaluation of facts perception, diagnose, actions planning, comparison between
implementation and practice, problems solutions and evaluations.
Moscovici lists others aspects related to teams: (Ibid.)
Communication between members of the teams must be honest.
Different opinions must be stimulated.
Complementary abilities of the members must be help in achieving goals.
Respect, cooperation and open mind must be elevated.
Team must invest continuously in its growth.
Team must incorporate its dynamic to problems solutions and diagnose abilities.
Martins & Laugeni present other aspects:
Members must be compromised to goals before their personal priorities.
Leadership must be shared and not exercised by one person only.
The performance must be evaluated by the team contribution, not by each member
Members of the team must work together and do the work personally, not delegating to
According to Shiba, teamwork activities are important to the qualitative development, for
many reasons:
Interventional teams are necessary because complexity increases along the time.
Organizations must avoid work division. Teamwork provides a mechanism to avoid this
Team learning has a bigger effect in the organization than individual learning.
People who learns together motivates each other to continue – a person learning alone is
easier to stop.
When a group of people learns something together, this knowledge becomes a “ team
joker”, as well as an “individual joker”.
Improvement teams cannot be made and then dismissed by its own. They need technical,
management and emotional support. If a certain process is very wide, integrated and technically
complex, it is possible that many errors were made for reasons that are beyond the control of
(MOD). The simpler technology is or the more intensive MOD the process has, the more
important will be the improvement team.
However, even when the technology complexly difficult improvement, the team can
influence and guide a specialist called to deal with the problem.
The autonomy of a team can be defined from suggesting simple solutions to working as
auto managing units.
The suggesting teams are usually temporary, and work on as specific problem; they do not
have much authority to make or introduce decisions, because traditional hierarchy still applies.
They can, however, be useful to produce ideas to the company, about issues as cost reduction or
productivity increase. (Moscovici, op. cit.) Problems solution teams identify and reach for the
problems to propose viable solutions. A supervisor or coordinator and four to eight persons
compose most of these teams. They are also known as “task force” and “quality circles”.
Teams semi-autonomous, although responding to a supervisor, already plan, organize and
control all their daily work. But teams auto-managed guide their own work. Usually, they fix
goals according to the organization goals.
Usually, they fix their goals according to the organizations goals; they plan how to
achieve these goals, they define and solve problems in their areas; make daily operational
decisions inside their authority boundaries; organize the work and hire members to the team
To get a bigger autonomy, usually demand some time and persistent efforts, motivational
enforce and rehabilitees in work continuity. However, it swings mean full compensations. The
improvement is not only in increasing productivity but also in positive attitudes changes from
employees towards the manager, the company and the work.
When a team develops but doesn’t achieve compatible autonomy, problems will probably
show up, like effective and creative reduction, leading members to get disappointed and give up
solving upcoming problems.
3. Development:
3.1. Operational conditions
In 1950, JUSE invited the statistic Willian Edwards Deming to a seminary about quality
control for administrators and engineers.
In this seminary it was presented for the first time the use of PDCA to quality
improvement (werkema, 1995).
The PDCA cycle is the base of various methodologies of problem’s analyses and
solutions, such as KJ, WV, QC Story, etc. The PDCA is used as the base of improvement teams,
in its 8 steps.
1. Problem identification: defining the problem and its importance.
2. Problem Observation: Discovering the problems characteristics.
3. Problem Analyses: Discovering the main causes of the problem.
4. Action Plan: Tasks to eliminate the problem
5. Execution: put in practice the action plan.
6. Verification: confirmation of the effectiveness of the action.
7. Standardization: Completely elimination of the causes.
8. Conclusion: revision of the activities and planning for a future work.
The TQM, in which all improvement teams are based on, is classified by Dellaretti Filho
(1996, p.2) as “a management system with tools that helps in planning and executing in
These tools can be classified in two groups:
The seven tolls of quality control: created to help in controlling the process which
involves mainly numeral data. The tools are: stratification, verification data (check-list),
Pareto graphic, cause & effect diagram, histograms, location measures, variability,
dispersion diagram and control graphics.
The seven tools of quality planning: These tools were created to cove up the gaps left by
the seven tools of quality control, when it comes to non numerical data. These tools are:
affinity diagram, relationship diagrams, tree diagrams, matrix diagrams, priorization
diagrams, decision process diagrams and arrows diagrams.
With the PDCA eight steps and the quality tools, the improvement team has the tools it
needs to investigate and improve the organizations problems, as well as the retaining of the
knowledge during its investigations.
The tacit knowledge (know as organization knowledge) is fundamental in the
improvement teams works. Adapting the definition of Nonaka and Takeuchi, organizational
knowledge is the organization ability (or in this case, the improvement team ability) to create,
disseminate and incorporate knowledge in the company, in its products, services and systems.
The creation of organizational knowledge can be divided in four distinct moments, which
is known as the knowledge spiral (opus cit):
Socialization: the conversion of tacit knowledge in tacit knowledge, which means, the
process of sharing experiences. This happens in the work of the improvement teams during
leadership reunions or even at meals, where success and failure are shared.
Externalization: the conversion of tacit knowledge in explicit knowledge though concepts
hypothesis and metaphors of new ways to experience reality are made. This mechanism is present
in the innovation of the leaders in managing the teams.
Combination: conversion of explicit knowledge in explicit knowledge. Exchange and
share of knowledge though documents reunions, net of phone calls. It happens, for instance,
during the presentation of the critical analyses of the improvement team’s work.
Internationalization: conversion if explicit knowledge in tacit knowledge. It’s what
Nonaka and Takeuchi define as “learning doing” based on the concept OJT (on the job training).
Documents and manuals helps sharing knowledge.
3.2. Traps that should be avoided:
Some traps can emerge during works related to improvement teams, such as:
Lack of support for quality tools: lack of practical knowledge in using quality tools can
become a drawback in works done with the PDCA methodology. Some work can be
done without incorporating the use of these tools continuously and systematically. Some
actions can be done to prevent it, like monthly reunions with the teams leaders to
incorporate the tools in to the work routine, workshops to evaluate the work developed
by the teams and the qualification of all members in the PDCA methodology.
Lack of share in the success achieved: It is possible that a team is not aware of the others
teams work. That prevents teams from sharing success and sometimes causes redone
work so the knowledge spiral is incomplete and the knowledge created becomes lost.
Lack of continuous work: Sometimes, when a team suffers some members changes, the
work can slow down or looses it focus. So, it is important that an informal structural
follows up the work and organizes it when necessary.
4. Conclusion:
The work systematic in teams is always stimulating. The Baldrige Criteria for
Performance Excellence (adapted by FPNQ - Fundação para o Prêmio Nacional da Qualidade- in
Brazil) evaluates the autonomy which the work force denies, manage and improve people’s
development, individually and in teams, in a way that it stimulates a higher performance (FPNQ,
According to Toledo (2002), the factors that surround improvement team’s work can be
divided into four issues groups:
Technical: Several variables influence on the performance of transport organizations.
However the more important are: contractual duties conditioning, variable demand,
technological differences and non controllable environment. These variables are directly
connected and can be worked by the improvement teams.
Methodological: Team work is the base stone to the improvement on urban
transportation companies. Teams should be created as a multifunctional team with high
potentials and should be self manage. The PDCA in 8 steps, also know as QC Story is
very efficient as an evaluation tool and guider of the team work. About the successful
practices, teams from 6 to 8 members are the better ones for solving problems. But
unsuccessful practices show that the information collection and management of work
should be closely observed. The lack of critical analyses by direction board, periodically,
is also a point that should be reviewed.
Behavior: it’s usual that some team members miss reunions because of its daily work. To
avoid that it is necessary to use some stimulation mechanism. Another improvement
point is to put someone outside the problem to evaluate the development of the team
because he will have an impartial opinion and won’t question more than needed or
cause pressure on the team to justify it is lack of result.
Personal: About the profile recommended for a team member, it can be said that teams
with experienced leaders and with better education has more chances to succeed.
In a future not so far, the productivity of the organizations will certainly be a crucial point
for those organizations to survive and perpetuate in a free marked competition. That increase of
productivity could be obtained more easily by the companies based on Teams work.
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Knowledge Management Solving Problems within the Organization