K-Form Organizations

J. David Johnson


Contemporary organizations are confronted with increasing challenges in matching their structural
designs to the ever increasing flood of information and to the necessity to translate this information
into actionable knowledge represented in innovations. The progression of organizations from U-forms,
or simple unitary functions represented in classic bureaucracies, to M-forms, or multidivisional
structures with many products often manufactured in many places were both embedded in a
one-to-many framework, a top-down approach. However, modern organizations need to develop deeper
and deeper tacit understandings that can lead to actionable knowledge that results in innovations and
unique strategic advantages. This suggests a need to describe a newly emerging organizational from –
the K-form. After detailing its fundamental unit, knowledge spheres, representing the increasing
understanding from recognition of patterns in matter and energy to information to explicit and tacit
knowledge to wisdom, how these spheres interact within a knowledge cube, formed by three dimensions
of domain, access, and function is discussed. Finally, the implications for practice of this approach, the
integration problem, and the importance of visualization are examined.


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