Analyse the background to the Knowledge Management (KM) initiative in Dream Design. 2. What specific programs were undertaken for the KM project in Dream Design? 3. How was that KM project implemented? 4. Explore the challenges towards the implementation of the KM project. 5. Identify the key results from the KM project. Page 7 of 9

PFACase Study Questions
1. Analyse the background to the Knowledge Management (KM) initiative in Dream Design.
2. What specific programs were undertaken for the KM project in Dream Design?
3. How was that KM project implemented?
4. Explore the challenges towards the implementation of the KM project.
5. Identify the key results from the KM project.
Page 7 of 9
6. Explain the key lessons learned from the KM project in Dream Design.
7. Could KM solve all the problems of Dream Design in future? Why or why not?

Attachments:Page 1 of 9
Assessment details for ALL students
Assessment item 2—Part B: Case Study—Term 1 2020
Due date: Electronic submission via Moodle by 11:45 pm AEST,
Thursday, Week 10, 21 May 2020
Weighting: 20% of total unit assessment
Length: 2000 words, +/- 10% 2B
Write a report answering the questions at the end of the following case study.
Dream Design: KM in a Scottish Architectural Practice
Dream Design is Scotland’s leading independent architectural practice. The company enjoys an
international reputation in health-care design and education. The directors are proud of the
company’s 150-year history, including the partnership with the internationally valued John Arthur
Mackintosh. During that history the business has secured a reputation for quality buildings that
work well at a technical level as well as aesthetically.
For example, some of Glasgow’s 19th-century hospitals pioneered the practice of air conditioning
far in advance of their time. More recently, Dream Design architects lead in setting the standards for
low-carbon office design.
The company invested in knowledge management to support the professional development of staff,
particularly young trainees, and to improve internal communication of project knowledge. The
initiative resulted in enhanced social and professional cohesion among staff at all levels of the
organisation, allowing greater project collaboration among offices. It also allowed the directors to
identify those areas of the corporate knowledge base which they most wanted to develop, such as
sustainable building technology and design.
Dream Design experienced a period of rapid expansion in recent years, due to large-scale public
investment in health-care and education facilities, based on public-private funding partnerships. From
its headquarters in Glasgow, it opened offices in four other Scottish cities and moved into Northern
Ireland and the north of England. Staff numbers doubled over a period of two years. Certain features
of the staffing profile highlighted the importance of effective knowledge management. The training
of architects in the UK is based on alternating periods of university education and working
experience in architectural practice. After four years of university study, trainee architects spend one
year in practice before returning to study for a further year at university. This is followed by a second
period of practice as a trainee before taking a final examination to become a qualified architect.
The profession relies on a steady supply of trainees each year and expects to invest in training and
practical mentoring.
Architectural education in the UK has been marked by a shift away from the technical aspects
of building construction towards a strongly aesthetic or design focus. While this has advantages in
terms of the quality of the public realm, it does create gaps in the knowledge base of young
architects. Dream Design directors were concerned by the lack of technical competence of
architectural trainees entering the practice from university.
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These factors combined to highlight the importance of knowledge management for the company.
The rapid expansion placed impossible stresses on the traditional forms of knowledge sharing
and training. The company growth relied on increasing numbers of trainees who lacked the
technical understanding that was a cornerstone of the company’s reputation. This growth in the
business also put new pressures on business development processes.
The company produced some generic promotional material in-house and made significant investment
in high-quality bid documents for each specific project. These documents were produced by a
two-woman team who pooled information from across the company and generated quality branded
bidding information. As the market base expanded, there was a clear need for a dispersal of these
processes to local offices. The challenge was to maintain the quality of the documents with devolved
A Knowledge Manager was appointed with a broad remit to improve the training and
professional development within the company and to capture the expertise developed in project
working. She reported directly to the managing director, quickly establishing a steering group
of representatives from all management levels to select priority actions and gain broad-spectrum
support for the program.
Although some of the Dream Design directors had heard about knowledge management and were in
sympathy with the ideas behind it, they did not have a clear idea of what they wanted to achieve by
it. They were aware of a need for greater coordination of training, and for better learning from project
experience, but had no clear plan for how that should happen.
When the Knowledge Manager was first appointed in 2006, she conducted a widespread consultation
among all staff to identify the key areas of concern for the workforce. Informal conversations,
discussion groups, and searches of information systems quickly revealed two key areas of
concern. First, the company’s IT systems had developed to serve the needs of local offices in
their project work, but they could not provide a standard portal for sharing information across
the business. Staff wanted a simple means of communicating throughout the company.
A number of other objectives followed on from that, including the establishment of a directory
of skills and experience, a database of standard drawing details, a library of technical and design
information, and a repository of standard company information for inclusion in bid documents.
The second concern was to improve personal communication among staff, particularly in terms of
sharing experience. It was clear that the architects and technicians wanted to be able to talk to each
other about specific recurring issues. The Knowledge Manager worked with the top designers in the
company to develop processes of design management and reflective practice. Teams were set up to
develop methods of post-project review, following the completion of a building, and postoccupancy evaluation, after one to two years of building occupation.
Training had been identified as a key objective of the KM program, and a program of training
seminars was set up within the first months. For half of the year, seminars were given to all staff on
a range of topics including study tours, post-project reviews, and conferences. For the other six
months, training focussed on the needs of architectural trainees preparing for their final
examination. Specialists in a range of business functions gave talks to the trainees on a fortnightly
basis, making notes available via the intranet for e-learning. By 2008 video-conference facilities
allowed trainees in all offices to participate in the seminar program, building a community of learners.
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The KM program would demand active engagement from members of staff at all levels of the
organisation, so it was critical to establish commitment from the outset. Although the Knowledge
Manager had been appointed by the Managing Director, it was clear that many junior managers had
to be engaged in the process. A steering group was set up to guide the priorities for the program and
ensure personal communication across all management groups.
As each of the objectives would demand a different skill set, technical working groups were set up,
coordinated by the Knowledge Manager. For example, a team of IT enthusiasts and professionals met
to outline the technical brief for a demonstration intranet. The Technical Managers, including both
architects and experienced architectural technologists, were a strong internal team with
responsibility for the development of technical capability of the staff. They worked with the
Knowledge Manager on the development of a database of standard drawing details.
During the first nine months of the program, a very basic intranet was set up, based on Word, to
demonstrate to the company what might be possible with a fully web-based system of internal
communication. It was delivered as a demonstration project, with the explicit objective of identifying
what would be required of a full system. Nevertheless, it included a significant amount of usable data
to show what was possible.
This demonstration was shared across all offices in August 2007 and immediately followed up with a
series of focus groups to gain an understanding of how people might use the system. This identified a
number of priorities for the full system, then under development.
The IT team were already working on identifying a suitable web-based system to develop a
“real” intranet. DNN, an open-source base, was selected, based on its capacity for simple devolved
editing and the flexibility for expansion to a very large support community. This system was
delivered, populated, and fully accessible in April 2008, based on the content of the original
prototype and the feedback generated by the focus groups. By August 2008, editorial control of the
intranet was fully devolved, requiring little further engagement of the Knowledge Manager.
Work began on developing the skills and experience database in late 2008. Individual and team
interviews were conducted in selected offices to identify the types of projects people worked on, as
well as their particular abilities and talents. These formed the basis of staff profiles for publication on
the intranet. A taxonomy was developed to identify the classes of experience relevant for searches,
e.g. types of construction methods, building types, project roles, etc. This then formed the basis of a
searchable staff list, pointing to individual staff profiles. This work has not yet been completed at the
time of writing.
A fundamental challenge of knowledge management is the engagement of senior, experienced
staff. The immediate beneficiaries of KM systems are often junior staff and trainees, while the senior
staff are the main contributors, in terms of both specialist knowledge and financial resources.
Senior staff engagement is both critical and problematic. There are many reasons why this should
be the case, some generic and some specific to organisation type.
In general, the people with the most useful knowledge already have many demands on their
time, because their wisdom is widely recognised. Many of the most experienced people are
under pressure from clients, potential clients, and contractors. They have stressful lives and have
little time for interacting with a computer screen.
Commonly, more experienced staff are also older and many are less confident in using web
technology than younger staff. In 2006, there was a wide disparity in familiarity with web
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technology across the company. Younger staff members were fully engaged in web forums, chatrooms, and social networking, while some senior directors remained reluctant even to use email.
Related to this is the question of preferred communication modes. Architects, as a rule, are far
more comfortable with drawing, visual representation, and conversation than they are with pages of
written text.
A key process in knowledge capture was therefore the translation of practical experience into a
suitable range of media for widespread communication. In the example of the database of
standard drawing details, this problem was resolved by assigning a young and talented architect to
a senior technical manager. The older man passed on much of his experience and understanding
to the younger architect, who had the capability to capture this information in the standard drawings
that he was developing. In this way the shared working context gave space for the communication
of tacit knowledge. Although this tacit knowledge could not be fully expressed in the drawing
information, it was simple to identify who in the company was the holder of that knowledge.
There were also significant challenges in securing sufficient resources for the project. The directors
were not the primary users of the system, and they were only marginally aware of the productivity
gains to be drawn from it. The company resourcing systems were not sufficiently closely managed to
allow simple identification of the value of the time saved by the system. The IT team were fully
engaged in the basic tasks of equipment supply and maintenance and could spare little time for the
more interesting challenges of developing the intranet. Consequently, a great deal of effort was
volunteered by IT enthusiasts working from home and on weekends to get the system infrastructure
established. It is a continuing challenge to secure the technical and professional resources to
realise the full potential of the intranet. For some directors it remains little more than a 21st-century
The KM project in Dream Design was primarily driven by the need to more rapidly raise the
productivity of trainee architectural staff. In this it was entirely successful. New recruits to the
company were the most vigorous users of the system, which provided instant access to a range of
corporate and technical information. The staff time for induction of new recruits was reduced,
as information on internal procedures and processes was available for browsing during lunch-hours.
Access to technical information was also greatly enhanced through the library portal. For
example, health-care design in the UK is dominated by a wealth of best-practice guidance
produced by the National Health Service. While this information is available via a government portal,
it can be difficult for the novice to locate. The Dream Design intranet could provide a localised
interface to the most commonly used guidance and identify a local expert for personal advice.
The process of preparing bespoke bid documents was transformed by the availability of standard
component information. The communications team could concentrate on improving the quality
of project sheets, staff C.V.s, and capability statements, while local administrative staff could collate
the relevant information for specific bids.
A group of trainee architects preparing for their final examinations developed a summary page of key
information to which they would refer. The seminar series had established a community of
learners, and they worked together to help each other and succeeding cohorts. All of the
trainees who took their final examinations in 2007 were successful, which was a remarkable
At a more general level, the key contribution of KM, and of the intranet in particular, was the
improvement in social cohesion among the dispersed offices of the company. The intranet had
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been developed with the specific objective of allowing local contribution. As a result, each office had
its own online area to populate as they wished. The result was a glorious mixture of jokes, photographs,
and news items as well as information about local projects and events. At the annual corporate events
people from different offices mix more readily because they had read each other’s news pages. This
was not only a pleasant improvement to the working environment: it allowed technicians from remote
offices to ask for help from peers working elsewhere. Unusual technical problems could be opened up
for ideas from across the company, based on this increased trust. Design solutions could be
discussed across offices because staff were increasingly aware of the overlaps with colleagues. The
mixture of social and purely work content encouraged greater use of the system and encouraged
exploration of content.
Don’t underestimate the time commitment required. The success of a KM project depends critically
on the widespread engagement of staff throughout the organisation. This includes technical IT
people, managers, professionals with specialist expertise, internal functional specialists, such as
HR or business development staff, administrators, and junior production staff. All of these people
have full-time jobs with other priorities, so it is vital to plan for sufficient engagement of human
resources across the business. In the case of Dream Design, a great deal was achieved through
personal engagement, out-of- hours working, and enthusiasm. Personal recognition within a
committed team was the key reward for many people.
Any KM program must deliver clear advantages to those who are required to contribute, but these
advantages can take a number of forms. Experienced staff may see reductions in standard inquiries:
for example, the contracts specialist in Dream Design noticed a drop in the interruptions to his day to
answer simple, standard questions. Junior members of staff are keen to contribute news and social
content, as many of them already make use of social networking sites and extend this into the
workplace via the intranet. For them, it provides more rapid social integration into the company.
Business leaders value the platform to express their achievements or vision to the company at large.
Special interest groups can raise awareness of new developments in their area, such as changes in
safety regulations.
The value of personal recognition can be a critical support in this. Many internal experts believe that
their value is insufficiently recognised. A KM program has the potential to validate and recognise
the worth of an individual to his or her colleagues. The success of the business development element
of the program was based on recognising the value of a previously overlooked member of staff. She
made a huge contribution because her work was explicitly valued by the KM system. In a small
or medium-sized business this peer recognition can be a valuable addition to, or substitute for,
financial rewards.
However, this highlights a risk for intranets in Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs). If it
is viewed only as a publicity platform for different interest groups, with no coherent authority, its
value to the business may be limited. Knowledge management must be guided by the core values
of the organisation to allow it to articulate and share the knowledge that is most valuable. This can
only take place with the full commitment of the business leadership.
The values of an organisation are reflected in the knowledge that it chooses to exchange. The term
“business epistemology” has been used to describe the processes of knowledge validation and
creation at work within small organisations. Based on the work of Michel Foucault, the concept
highlights the ways in which certain sources and classes of knowledge can be articulated and gain
currency within specific social contexts. Foucault uses the term “authority of limitation” to describe
the social structures that set limits on a discursive formation. If a company intranet is viewed as a
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discursive formation, the role of the Knowledge Manager is to work with the business leadership to
create appropriate spaces for critical knowledge areas to develop. Thus, in the case of an
architectural practice, a key area may be a space for sharing and developing ideas of good design or
exploring the potential of new materials for low-carbon design. The initial structure of the
intranet was based on improving internal communication among offices and rapid induction and
training of junior staff. To that end it was highly successful. However, for the longer-term
development of the corporate knowledge base, a greater commitment is needed to develop those
areas of knowledge that are truly critical to the business. This requires an intellectual commitment
from business leaders which may not be available.
The future of knowledge management within Dream Design is uncertain at this time. There remains
scope for significant productivity gains through improved business processes, but management
investment is limited during the current recession. One objective that has not yet been fully
realised is the development of integrated systems of reflective practice. At present projects are
subject to occasional technical reviews and design reviews, but there is little systematic management
of those processes. Such reviews only form part of the broader process of deliberate reflective
practice starting at the early stages of tendering and continuing beyond completion to postoccupancy evaluation. At each stage there are many potential knowledge resources providing
scope for learning and improvement. A coherent strategy would identify those stages likely to
be most productive of new ideas and establish procedures for knowledge capture. For example,
methods of post-occupancy evaluation range from the collection of user opinions to the detailed
energy use analysis of building types. As Dream Design has extensive experience in school building
in Scotland, a regular process of POE of schools could generate valuable insights into effective
design. A method for standard school POE has been drafted but has yet to be tested in implementation.
The HR processes of staff appraisals and resource allocation are not yet well integrated with
the requirements of professional development. Forms for recording of professional development
plans and training records have been established on the intranet, but the appraisal process
remains separate. The further development of the skills and experience database is a key priority for
improved knowledge management within the company.
Over a two-year period, Dream Design achieved substantial advantages from a relatively small
financial investment in knowledge management. Trainee staff were quickly inducted into the
business, reducing the time to productivity; technical information was readily accessible under
the guidance of experienced technical managers; the staff directory allowed increased
collaboration among dispersed teams of architects; and the efficiency of bid preparation was
substantially improved. Many more opportunities remain to increase productivity through more
effective internal communication, but this case study demonstrates the early gains that can be
achieved at little cost.
* Source: KM: Case Studies for Small and Medium Enterprises, Asian Productivity Organisation, 2009.
Case Study Questions
1. Analyse the background to the Knowledge Management (KM) initiative in Dream Design.
2. What specific programs were undertaken for the KM project in Dream Design?
3. How was that KM project implemented?
4. Explore the challenges towards the implementation of the KM project.
5. Identify the key results from the KM project.
Page 7 of 9
6. Explain the key lessons learned from the KM project in Dream Design.
7. Could KM solve all the problems of Dream Design in future? Why or why not?
Presentation of your assignment:
You must include the following in your report:
• Title Page – clearly set out the title of your assessment, your name, your student ID,
the unit name, unit code and the name of the lecturer. There must be no graphics or
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be no header or footer on the Title page, the Executive Summary, or the Table of
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it summarises the whole report so a busy person could get a good idea of the contents
without having to read the entire report. This means it should contain the purpose of
the report, summary of the body of the report and summary of any findings or
recommendations if these were present. Please see the ‘Unit Resources’ section in the
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of contents itself should not appear in the table of contents. The table of contents
should be on its own page.
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and sub-headings should be included with the logical progression of your answers
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• References – this is a list of all the books and articles you have cited in your report to
support the discussion of your answers. References are essential for supporting your
argument/discussion and making it valid. Lack of in-text references compromises
value of your findings dramatically. Use Harvard (author-date) referencing style for
your in-text citations as well as your list of references. Overall, you need to provide
minimum six (6) academic quality references published between 2012 and 2020. Do
not use sources that were published before 2012. Use of Wikipedia and other similar
websites is discouraged.
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Assessment Marking Criteria
PART A: Contribution and attendance
in tutorials
Allocated Awarded
On-Campus Students: Attendance at
tutorials/lectures and participated in
class discussion.
Distance (Online) Students: Contributed
to tutorial discussions in the Moodle unit
Section Total 0.00
PART B: Case Study
(0 or X 0.25)
(X 0.5)
(X 0.75)
(X 1.0) Sub-Total Comments
Question 1 (5 marks) 0.00
Question 2 (5 marks) 0.00
Question 3 (5 marks) 0.00
Question 4 (5 marks) 0.00
Question 5 (5 marks) 0.00
Question 6 (5 marks) 0.00
Question 7 (4 marks) 0.00
Organisation and mechanics (6 marks)
a. Title page (0.5)
b. Table of Contents (auto-generated)
c. Executive summary (2)
d. References as per the requirements
stated in the assessment details (3)
40 0.00
60 0.00
Marker’s Name:
*Deduction of 1 mark per calendar day late
Late Submission Penalty
Final Total out of 30
Section Total
(Scaled) Sub Total Out of 30
Marking Guide for Assessment 2B (20%)
Refer to
for comments
COIT12205 – Knowledge Management Principles – Term 1 2020
Student Name, Id: