M.Santosis, “Case Files: CAN Underwriting Knowledge” CIO Magazine, September 1, 2002 in M.Samson and R.Daft, (2012) Management: Fourth Asia Pacific Edition, Cengage, pp.78-9
In the early days of the new century, it wasn’t hard to see that SIA Corporation couldn’t keep doing business the old-fashioned twentieth century way. Chief knowledge officer Jerry Seibert fully realized that he owed his new position in the newly created knowledge management department to this challenge. Headquartered in the Midwest, SIA was an umbrella organization offering a wide range of insurance products to commercial customers of all sizes throughout the country and, increasingly, to multinational corporations throughout the world. Over the years it had diversified into various types of insurance by absorbing smaller companies until it now consisted of more than 30 separate business units. Each had its own hierarchy, characterised by strong top-down administration and the well-defined rules and procedures typical of the insurance industry; virtually every employee possessed specialized knowledge about a narrowly defined market niche. Upper level management had given the matter considerable attention and concluded that SIA’s refined division of labour into technical specialists needed to give way to a collaborative learning organization, one where employee empowerment and open information made it possible for a single underwriter to be knowledgeable about a variety of products. Jerry’s “Knowledge Management Department”, housed within human resources, could make a contribution towards this goal. Jerry devised an elegant solution, if he did say so himself. He oversaw the development of software that allowed any SIA employee to post a query, have that question directed only to those employees with relevant expertise, and then receive an answer, often in a matter of minutes and usually before the day was out. The only hitch was that hardly anyone was posting...
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