Chapter 10 - Minicase 1

Daimler Chrysler EBOKs with Knowledge Management

In preparation for answering the questions, review the Daimler Chrysler web site.

  1. Platform design at Daimler Chrysler led directly to a reduction in time-to-market and in cost for new vehicles. Explain how it caused new problems.

    Chrysler had lost some of its corporate memory. The changes to its way of collaborating left some gaps. Some errors were corrected & repeated later. There was insufficient retention of learning.

  2. What is meant by a community of practice? How did Daimler Chrysler leverage the knowledge within such a community?

    A community of practice is a community of skilled individuals who share their knowledge is shared. At DaimlerChrystler, the community of practice was leveraged by introducing Tech Clubs and by having the knowledge recorded in the EBOK.

  3. Describe the Engineering Book of Knowledge (EBOK). Explain how it is updated by adding new knowledge of practice.

    The Engineering Book of Knowledge (EBOK) is a knowledge database. It contains the best practices contributed by 5000 users. The EBOK is divided into 3800 chapters. It contains both internal and competitors information. It is a work in progress and will continue to accumulate new additions, modifications, corrections and the results of ongoing research and development work.

  4. It has been said that “the proper role for all knowledge management tools it to leverage technology in service to human thinking.” Explain this statement.

    Knowledge management tools are intended to serve communities of users. Since no one can possibly know everything, consulting the knowledge management tools assist in finding answers to problems, locating the experts who do know or building awareness of the rules useful for working on the problem to obtain a solution. Thus knowledge management tools need to be tailored for specific users or area of application.

    For broad knowledge, we do have encyclopedias since the early 1800’s thanks to the French. More recently the exploding number of web pages and search engines to sift through this vast storehouse have come to replace many older research tools.

  5. How successful was the knowledge management initiative at DaimlerChrysler?

    Knowledge management is a work in progress at DaimlerChrysler much like other organizations. There is organizational support for it and it has shown its usefulness. It is been deployed to other areas: finance, sales, etc. Since it does not have a specific budget, it must be paid from current allocations.

    Would you pay for something that is of no direct or immediate use to you, your team or your department?

  6. Consider how a book of knowledge could impact another organization, ideally one with which you are affiliated (e.g., your university, job, part-time job, family business). Describe the potential impacts; and list the benefits. Would there be any organizational culture issues to deal with? Why or why not?

    A book of knowledge would be of immediate use for every organization. Consider how often we look for papers, books, documents, etc. to verify and confirm information? All of us do it often. A book of knowledge would be useful.

    For a book of knowledge to be useful, cultural issues have to be addressed. These issues include overcoming the fear that sharing information dilutes power or controls and sensitivity about giving credit for work done. Also, different cultures see information sharing differently – sometimes sharing is considered intruding or even spying, or stealing intellectual assets.