I3 UPDATE / ENTOVATION International News
No. 25: November 1998
Knowledge Management: Three Years On: Are We Confused? - David Skyrme
Knowledge Summit '98: Oxymorons and Healthy Cynicism - David Skyrme
Collaborating for Innovation - Debra M. Amidon
France: History and Vision in the Knowledge Economy - Debra M. Amidon and Eunika Mercier-Laurent
The Medium is the Message: Mind Mapping and Knowledge Management - Nick Duffill and Patrick Mayfield
Most Admired Knowledge Enterprises 1998
- A Perspective on Innovation from Paraguay - Manuel Benitez Codas
- Nero Fiddles while Rome Burns?: An Alternative View of Knowledge Management (Extracts from an Essay by Ted Lumley)
Welcome to this edition of I3 UPDATE / ENTOVATION International News, a free briefing analysing developments and key issues in the networked
knowledge economy. As the end of year conference season gains pace, now is
a good time to review the progress of knowledge management and report on
what is probably the longest established series of regular conferences
devoted to the subject - Business Intelligence's Knowledge Management Summit '98. France is the county in focus in this month's ENTOVATION report.
I3 UPDATE is also available by email. See the administrative information page.
David J. Skyrme
David J. Skyrme
It was barely three years ago that the current era of knowledge management reached the world stage. The Knowledge Imperative conference in Houston, September 1995 was probably the first to raise general management
awareness, with Business Intelligence's Leveraging Knowledge for
Sustainable Advantage in March 1996 raising its profile in the UK. That's
not to say that companies were not already practicing knowledge management.
As we know, many existing good management practices, such as sharing best
practices or post project reviews, are now considered part of knowledge
management. What has changed is that knowledge management has become a
shorthand label that focusses attention on the strategic role of knowledge
and acts as a stimulus to organizations to take it seriously. How far have
No Excuse for Not Knowing
Since 1995-6, the number of conferences has grown from a handful worldwide
to tens or even hundreds. There are around ten magazines or journals
primarily devoted to knowledge management - and don't get confused between
Knowledge Management (magazine published by CurtCo) and Knowledge
Management (published by Learned Information). Management books with
'knowledge' in their title arrive at 5-10 per month, and there is hardly a
major research or consultancy company that does not have a brochure on the
subject, a line of practice or some survey or continuous multi-client
All the indications are that knowledge management is still at the early
growth phases. Although some surveys (e.g. Delphi) indicate 30 per cent or
more of companies having some knowledge management activity, my own 'show
of hands' polls in general management audiences in Europe typically show
only around 10-15 per cent with a formal programme (although this figure
was around 30 per cent a the Knowledge Summit whose audience are probably
more 'knowledge aware' anyway). Whatever the figure, there are many
organizations who have yet to adopt knowledge as a strategic initiative or
to coordinate ad-hoc practices. Even those that do recognize they still
have a long way to go. For example, Mike Barker of Royal Mail Consulting
(featured below) says that they are two years into a five year programme.
A recent KPMG advertisement in Business Week sums up for me the current
state of knowledge management. It shows a technician working with a
horrendous spaghetti of wires across several large cabinets, with the caption:
"Never before has so much technology and information been available to
mankind. Never before has mankind been so utterly confused. It's time for
Of course, knowledge management goes beyond technology and information, but
it does help to have its essential foundations in place!
Beneath the Surface
Even organizations that have been recognized in awards for leadership
knowledge practices are usually the first to admit that they are good in
only a few of the many areas they would like to be. Many find it difficult
to change the culture and make knowledge management more than skin-deep.
The challenges of embedding good knowledge management practice throughout
an organization are formidable. We are already hearing tales of failure,
though I have heard no substantiation of some consultants' claims that the
failure rate is 50 or even 75 per cent. Key techniques, such as after
action reviews, learning logs, or capturing customer learning must become a
routine part of day-to-day activities. This will only happen if:
- the benefits of such techniques are recognized as beneficial, both to the
organization and individual
- the tools to do it are easy to use - sometimes a simple manual form or
checklist is infinitely more valuable than a computer procedure
- users have opportunities to learn the technique and improve their use of
it (perhaps through a learning network)
- senior managers give their support and encouragement, allowing time for
learning and experimentation
- the organization's reward system and environment motivates individuals to
contribute to corporate knowledge creation and sharing.
And don't let people tell you that knowledge workers do not like to share
their knowledge. Most people love to show off their expertise and help
others. Too frequently, though, this willingness is abused by the
organization. They get no thanks: "Concentrate on your own job"; their
contribution is hijacked by others with no recognition to them as
originator; their suggestions are ignored: "what's the point, no one takes
any notice". All this knowledge that could help the organization going to
waste! Contrast this commonly found situation with practices like BP's Peer
Assist where people from several parts of the organization rally round to
help someone with a problem, since "one day we might need such help
ourselves". They are one of the few organizations where knowledge sharing
is becoming the norm. No doubt the leadership of chief executive John
Browne (see Harvard Business Review, September 1997) who actively promotes
the learning organization and value of knowledge, has helped.
For most organizations, even after three years of increased visibility of
knowledge management with many proven benefits, the stark truth is that the
large majority have still to get serious about it. I guess we will be
running these features for several years more!
David J. Skyrme
Following on from Knowledge Management '96 and '97, Business Intelligence
ran Knowledge Summit '98 in London last week. Two other conferences had
already grabbed the title Knowledge Management '98 - so how do you protect
your title? Perhaps its just getting in there earlier in the year: will
there be Knowledge Management 2000 in January of 2000? The real KM '98 had
a good mix of cases - some old, some new. The focus and tone, though, had
definitely changed over two years:
- From knowledge value chain/processes -- To enhancing business performance
- From best practice databases, sharing -- To communities of practice
- From intellectual capital -- To knowledge trading.
Recurring themes were connecting people, building relationships and trust,
and nurturing Communities of Practice. Frequently speakers were suggesting
that a better term is needed - knowledge management seems like an oxymoron:
how can you manage knowledge, most of which is in people's heads? My own
simplistic answer is that the management task splits into two - for more
explicit knowledge it's about managing your information resources,
something that is woefully done in most companies; for tacit knowledge, it
is managing the environment and motivating knowledge workers so that
knowledge is developed and exploited.
It is difficult to pick out highlights from a conference with excellent
contributions from many speakers. I will, however, highlight two, and
summarize some key points from others. If you want more, then you can order
conference binders and audio tapes from Business Intelligence (Tel: +44 181
Kent Greenes, head of knowledge management at BP, outlined its practical
approaches. At the core of its programme is simplicity: "it's not rocket
science" and a strong linkage between knowledge management and business
performance. The business case for knowledge management is rooted strongly
in transferring learning from one part of the organization to another.
Greenes gave examples of how accelerated learning within a business unit,
such as within an oil field, can reduce the time to make a new oil well
productive. Even larger gains, however, are achieved where such knowledge
can be transferred from one field to another. BP's philosophy is very much
- Learn before doing - studying results of related initiatives; the Peer
Assist process where insights are sought from people outside of the
- Learn while doing - reviewing lessons at each stage; After Action Review
based on four simple questions: What was supposed to happen? What actually
happened? Why is there a difference? What can we learn from this?
- Learn after doing - retrospective project reviews and personal learnings,
with a full team discussion on "what should we do next time"; this should
also involve a customer for the knowledge.
By applying such approaches to development of the Schiehallion oil field in
the North Sea, Greenes cited savings of $50 million in development costs
compared to earlier oil fields.
Throughout, Greenes emphasized the need for people to use knowledge to do
things quicker, better, cheaper, easier. He described some of the tools
that BP use, such as the use of Communities of Practice and knowledge
assets, held on BP's intranet. Users of these assets apply them in new
contexts, and thus create new knowledge assets to enrich the overall
knowledge base. Examples were demonstrated in businesses restructuring
projects and entry into new retail markets, where knowledge from one part
of the world was successfully used in another. Greenes stressed the
voluntary nature of contributing to expert directories and knowledge
assets: "When people get value they will contribute; it stays refreshed. If
is has value, it lives".
Throughout, the human and organization aspect was stressed:
- "relationships are important"
- "make it easy for people to connect to others with relevant experience"
- "take time to reflect: if you were to do this again, what is the one thing you wish you had known"
- "the 'Yellow Pages' are for the people by the people".
He quantified the benefit of knowledge management as over $90 million in
1998, citing specific examples such as a refinery project - 9 days shorter,
20 per cent cost savings. Three key paths to success:
- Have a business focus
- Keep it simple
- Find a customer first
He is looking forward to the BP Amoco merger as a "merger of world-class
Mike Barker, knowledge integration manager at Royal Mail Consulting, an
internal consulting group of the UK Post Office, with 1000 people, went
through some key learning points of their progress. As with many
organizations, their customers are driving them to do thing better, faster
and with value for money. Their business was characterized as "customizing
knowledge for the postal and related distribution markets".
Learning Point 1 - The challenge of getting people on board. All the theory
and models must be put into the user context with language that they
understand in their environment. Stories are important - real examples of
the benefits of knowledge management in their situation.
Learning Point 2 - Manage for clarity. Simplify the number of initiatives.
Make clear where each fits (RM have 25 separate projects in their 1998
programme). Adapt organization roles and structures to fit. Above all, a
supportive culture is needed, where people contribute knowledge for the
benefit of the rest of the organization, not just themselves.
Learning Point 3 - Develop measures to indicate what is important. Consider
a balanced scorecard for knowledge management. Orient performance
indicators e.g. criteria for updating CVs for experts directory, measures
of innovation brought to assignments, use of lessons learned.
Learning Point 4 - Technology helps where there is a clear process. barker
explained how corroborative software, TeamWeb, brought quicker closure on
defining purpose, values, activities etc. than facilitated face-to-face
sessions. By codifying on Lotus Notes proposal, dialogue, agreement,
commitments etc. teams of up to 15 people are able to reach closure much
Learning Point 5 - Information acquisition skills are poor. People are more
comfortable in hitting the "search" facility on Alta Vista, and getting 1
million hits, rather than using focussed resources or intelligent agents.
Hence, RM Consulting is experimenting with intelligent profiling, so that
users receive daily briefings of relevant information and are alerted as
new information becomes available.
Particularly helpful was a map of different tools and techniques, according
to the type of knowledge transfer e.g. tacit-to-tacit, tacit-to-explicit.
RM Consulting are about half way into a five year programme. If they were
to start again today, what would they recommend?
- Win Support from the top
- Map the process - define a framework and boundaries
- Build a programme - describe the journey, integrate the initiatives
- Integrate people, process, technology and structure
- Involve the organization.
Highlights from the Rest
- Knowledge Ecology and Communities of Practice (George Por and Mike
McMaster) - knowledge cannot be managed in the same sense as we manage
other assets - it "can only be inspired, nurtured and facilitated"; focus
on the relationship and cultural aspects of knowledge creation, sharing and
- Sudhansu Palsule, Anglian Water - Emphasis on drawing out tacit knowledge "which is why cultural change is so necessary".
- Victoria Ward, Spark - The use of 'notional franchising' as a business
model for a KM programme: "a knowledge team is the generator and guardian
of working knowledge models".
- Colin Jones, Rover - sharing learning of International Project Working
(IPW). Use compass (discovery vs. prescription) and navigators (coaches to
ask the right questions).
- Tony Harper, Jaguar - knowledge based design. The rules for certain
design problems are now codified such that computers generate detailed
designs from functional attributes for body panels in 1 hour vs. eight
weeks by traditional CAD methods.
- Myra Johnson, Xerox - KM evolved from quality programme. Documents are "a human interface to knowledge"; Docushare within Xerox is "community owned and maintained document management". It is more than database - it is bulletin boards, collaborative document development and learning
communities. "Copying is a virtue, not a vice".
- Keith Rapley, British Airways - how the new Waterside office HQ was
specifically designed as a working environment where knowledge sharing can
- Stephen Denning, The World Bank - shift the focus from knowledge
repositories to knowledge communities. Use Knowledge Fairs. Approach to
'Yellow Pages' quick and dirty vs. formal and mandatory.
- David Smith, Unilever - justifying KM in not a problem when you consider
the "cost of ignorance". Focus on what knowledge matters. Knowledge
networks are crucial - connectivity, co-invention and community - but they
need time to develop and work effectively.
- Tony Brewer, Pivot Partners - exploiting knowledge assets; a check list
for readiness. Three main approaches - problem solving services
(consultancy); information publishing and knowledge-enriched goods or
services of which BRIGHT (the network for smarter working) is an emerging
- Joerg Staeheli, Novartis - cross-sectoral knowledge fairs and network
communities. As well as 'Yellow Pages' (internal experts) there are 'Blue
Pages' (details and connections to external experts). Knowledge networking
needs a shift in behaviour, technology (e.g. Lotus Notes) and a bit of magic!
- Roger Williams, Cap-Gemini - new measures for intellectual capital
performance, building on the balanced scorecard, linking a model of change,
a knowledge navigator and a detailed framework for action.
- Victor Newman, Cranfield University, who describes himself as a
'knowledge terrorist', argued the case for knowledge development rather
than knowledge management - "What do we know that gives us a opportunity?
How can we exploit it before it is copied and becomes public knowledge?"
- Chris Valle - New Information Paradigms - KM solutions must be open and modular, context and user sensitive, flexible, heuristic, suggestive and
transparent. He described a framework covering knowledge servers, knowledge
middleware and knowledge clients.
- Rudolf Frei and Niels-Viggo Haueter, Swiss Reinsurance - long-lived
knowledge (over 30 years) - context, culture and infrastructure (knowledge
In my summing up presentation, I pointed that as knowledge management
evolves, there are emerging:
- New measures e.g. of intellectual capital
- New markets for knowledge and IC trading (cf. BRIGHT above)
- New methods e.g. Communities of Practice, knowledge networking
- New tools e.g. intelligent agents to "find and filter" what is relevant
- New perspectives e.g. knowledge ethics
although 'new' is perhaps a misnomer - it's just that their widespread
adoption is currently low. I concluded with an updated version of ten key
shifts (I3 UPDATE No. 20, June 1998), noting that my shift from best practices to 10x breakthrough practices was probably the least that organizations should strive for (cf. the Jaguar example of at least 100x
improvement). The shift from special initiative to routine was exemplified
by comments of several speakers, that if they were successful at knowledge
management, then it would be embedded as part of every manager's job and
not need their position as a CKO. One questioner to the closing panel posed a related 'tongue in cheek' question: "Does the appointment of a CKO spell the death knell of knowledge management in their organization?" As always at these conferences, a certain level of cynicism, provoked some quality debate about a topic that is becoming a key plank of strategy in a growing number of organizations.
Debra M. Amidon
The following text has been published as the conclusion in both the CMA
monograph - COLLABORATIVE INNOVATION and the KNOWLEDGE ECONOMY (Society of Management Accountants, 1998) and in the article "Blueprint for 21st
Century Innovation Management" (Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 2. No
1, September, 1998).
"The knowledge economy affords organizations and society an unprecedented
opportunity for creating the future. This is a bountiful climate in which
ideas will be valued, but only as they are applied to advance society -
however, that may be defined. The answers lie in an effective innovation
strategy - redefined according to the flow of knowledge - 'ideas to
prosperity.' The mandate is quite clear; but he role of the CMA is yet to
be defined. What will be the legacy left in ten, twenty or fifty years?
The role of the management accountant has evolved substantially over the
past decade. More significant changes lie ahead. Responsibilities have
already shifted from monitoring the financial accounting process to the
overall management processes of the firm. Once the emphasis shifts from
managing the tangible to the intangible assets, their advice and counsel
will be needed more than ever. Not only are the language and concepts
transforming, but the basic principles of the profession may be challenged.
This can be seen as a real threat. Progressive managers will, instead, see
an opportunity to shape the very foundations upon which the future will
evolve. What was managed previously will be viewed as myopic in contrast to
the multi-variable economy of tomorrow.
Management responsibilities will increasingly be viewed a facilitating the
learning process which includes external stakeholders (e.g., suppliers,
distributors, alliance partners, customers and even competitors). How these
relationships are 'managed' is far more a matter of collaborative skill
that competition competitive advantage with which most are so familiar.
There are ways to optimize results rather than leave destiny to serendipity.
The focus on values, valuation and valuing will gain prominence as
executives search for what, how and when to measure performance. Only when
we have a common language across borders - functions, industries, countries
alike - can we begin to explore the prospects for collective prosperity.
Given the identified trends - established, emerging and over the horizon -
we get a glimpse of the fundamentals of the future. Implementation will
vary - company-to-company, industry-to-industry - but coming to a common
understanding our mutual mission could enable better utilization of
resources - financial, technical and human.
Knowledge of the 'emerging community of innovation practice,' we understand
that various practitioners throughout the value-system can contribute. How
they are engaged in a common mission determines how they are able to
leverage their complementary competencies. Rather than competing for
resources and spheres of influence, individuals, groups, organizations and
nations can realize what they have to gain through collaborative - versus
The core premise of the future is collaboration. This does not mean that
organizations don't compete. This is inevitable. What it does mean is that
the shift in orientation becomes one of sharing and leveraging one another
for mutual success. In national and global terms, it is described as
creating the common good from which all benefit. We have experienced the
previous eras of reliance upon resources which are depleted. Perhaps the
era based upon the bountiful resource of knowledge provides an opportunity
for true global symbiosis.
Organizations must create the integral connection between the value of
human capital and economic prosperity. There is likely no better community
than that represented by management accountants to bring clarity, meaning
and methods to the process. What is equally obvious is that this cannot be
done in a vacuum. Creating the innovation language, culture and shared
vision is - by definition - a collaborative process. History will document
how well this transition is managed into the next millennium.
Debra M. Amidon and Eunika Mercier-Laurent
It was 1989 when the Ministry of Research, Education and Technology
embarked upon an 18-month economic development activity to network
competencies in the regions of France. The foundation was laid for building
a national innovation system with the conclusion of a Roundtable - Managing
the Knowledge Assets into the 21st Century:
"If we can agree that the knowledge base of the United States is our most
precious resource, then we can begin to manage it more effectively. This
requires a re-thinking of how intellectual capital of each sector -
education, government and industry - should be developed and applied to the
dual goals of the advancement of science and technology, as well as the
international competitiveness of our nation." (Amidon, 1987)
The final meeting was the Grand Colloque de Perspective held in Lyon. We
now know that the agenda is not only national, but also global in scope. We
know that it is not only a matter of enterprise productivity, but
prosperity at several economic levels in our society. We know that it
effects both industrialized and developing nations alike. We know that the
focus on knowledge may not be new, but the establishing a knowledge
strategy is the essence of modern management.
France had already enjoyed many technological advances considered the best
in the world. Minitel, developed over 20 years ago and now with over 20
million users, was the French Internet for information and services,
including transportation reservations. It may have been the first
countrywide internet in the world. The country also enjoys several other
innovations, such as Concorde (French-British), Airbus, Eurotunnel, Ariane,
smart card (Rolland Moreno Bull, 70ties) TGV - the first FAST train (above
200 miles/hour) to link the country with other countries in Europe.
One of the earliest and largest AI projects, Sachem, is an innovative and
powerful Blast Furnace (BF) operating support system, designed and
developed within the USINOR Group. Embedding the best knowledge of the
Group, Sachem analyses in real-time the state of the whole BF and produces
recommendation of actions for the operator. It is operational on 3 BFs (3
others in preparation) and the expected benefits are of one euro per metric
tons (11 millions produced per year). Contact Francois-Marie LeSaffre
(firstname.lastname@example.org) for more details.
Building upon some of the finest minds in history - Voltaire, Descartes,
Sartre, and Beaudelaire - France has a rich knowledge heritage to leverage.
Combine this with famous cultural and performing artists - Claude Monet and
Gauguin, the country is well suited to capitalize upon the opportunities
afforded by a knowledge economy.
ENTOVATION colleagues Jean Marc Le Duc (email@example.com) and Eunika
Mercier-Laurent (firstname.lastname@example.org) organized a major seminar with
the Ministry of Research, Education and Technology - "Visualizing
Opportunity in the Knowledge Economy" to an audience of government and
industrial leaders, including representatives from Air France, France
Telecom, Renault, Thomson and more. This lecture - the first in a series -
provided insight into the rationale for shifting the orientation from
Information Society to a Knowledge Economy.
Most recently, the Web Pages of Prime Minister Lionel Jospin
(http://www.premier-ministre.gouv.fr) outline sub-programs ranging from new
technologies for education and security of information networks to the new
cultural poetic for networks. Although focused primarily upon information
technology - could help bring the country into the modern knowledge age:
I. New Technology and Communications: This initiative will provide access
to information and interactive access to knowledge. It describes the value
of teamwork - how to work in groups for common goals. It promotes
continuous learning in the enterprise, including the teachers. There are
learning programs, such as 'automatic learning' in the home, teaching and
pedagogical tools as well as collective cataloging of libraries. It
describes the industrialization of 'savoir' with a focus on knowledge being
for everyone - 'sans en exclure personne.'
II. Culture: This provides 'nouveaux savoir' with internet access to
museums, 'patrimoine culture' and libraries for electronic tourism. It
encourages multi-media activities for the press, a knowledge channel on
television for bilingual studies in both German and French - originally
established in 1995. There are plans to digitalize the archives of French
songs and make them available with telecharge capability while still
providing for protection of privacy and ownership.
III. Government Administration and Public Services: This provides access to
an inventory of administrative procedures with an effort to connect people
on the internet to exchange information, e.g., health, social security, use
of smart cards, etc. - all in the interest of reducing the use of paper
while providing for increased services. There is an effort to switching
people form the Minitel system developed 20 years ago to the Internet by
the end of 1999. There is recognition of the importance of electronic mail,
video-conferencing and telework ways to decrease pollution. There are
benefits of regional information systems as well as the modernization of
the information system for administration of the government.
IV. Technology of Information Tools: This section provides for electronic
courses and Website services for enterprises. It describes the mission of
economic information, agents for diffusion of technological information and
the use of natural language for workflow. It promotes not the generation of
more information that places people on information overload; but rather
provides a focus using tools (e.g., with high performance networks, data
base access, etc.) to extract pertinent information - organizing the flow
of information to the people who have the need to know.
V. Innovation - Industrial and Technological: This initiative focuses on
generating growth and employment, encouraging technology transfer, support
for innovative people to create enterprises. It provides regional action
for the organization of research, especially the technology of information.
It provides incentives to develop entrepreneurs, the networking of groups
of competencies (e.g., telecommunications) and new competitive services for
the Information Society. . There is even an effort to encourage all French
enterprises and entrepreneurs to use 'fr' versus 'com' in e-mail addresses
to promote a French presence on the World Wide Web.
Concurrently, the business press has begun to feature stories about
knowledge management and support conferences on the topic to link people in
the 'community of knowledge practice.' Claire Remy has articles on the
movement - "Memoire d'Entreprise" and "Capitalisation de connaissances"
The November 97 issue of "Consulting: Le Mensuel International du
Conseil" features several stories on the topic, especially one written by
Anne Liebmann - "Quatre Gourous pour le Management des Connaissances" It
includes an outline of dozens of websites organized in two categories:
consultants and knowledge managers. The most recent edition, September 98
features an article - "Veille et Intelligence Economique - Un marche de 800
millions de francs" and a new book by Langdon Morris - La Chaine de la
Connaissance: Strategies d'Entreprise pour l'Internet.
More evidence of French leadership is Madam Edith Cresson, who Chairs the
Innovation Programme for the European Union in Brussels (See the special
feature edition of I3 UPDATE - Innovation in Europe
(http://www.skyrme.com/updates/se9809.htm). Other sources of international expertise on the topic can be found at the OECD - Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development - that is headquartered in Paris. For the last few years, several studies have elevated the discussion of the benefits of a knowledge focus beyond enterprise productivity to the economic well being of nations - industrialized and developing alike. The bimonthly OECD
Observer has provided feature stories on human capital, learning and
society, national systems of innovation and the knowledge-based economy.
In 1995 articles, Riel Miller and Gregory Wurzburg argue that there are at
least three barriers to linking the value of human potential to economic
- The lack of transparency in the costs of labour and particularly, of
upgrading the qualifications of skilled workers.
- The difficulties in measuring the productive capacity (i.e., the
knowledge, skills, and abilities) which workers acquire through further
training and/or learning on the job.
- Problems in reflecting the realistic economic value for qualifications
and carrying them forward on the balance sheet.
In a recent issue of the Journal of Knowledge Management (September 1998),
Editor Rory Chase (email@example.com) features articles on this expended view of the knowledge economy: "Blueprint for 21st Century
Innovation Management" by Debra M. Amidon (firstname.lastname@example.org) and
"Markets and the Knowledge Economy: is Anything Broken? Can Government Fix
It?" by Gregory Wurtzburg (email@example.com).
Wurzburg argues - and effectively so - current financial accounting and
reporting systems provide too little information on the kinds of
intellectual assets that would appear important in a knowledge economy.
Moreover, there has been little progress in changing financial information,
or improving non-financial information. He cites an article in a new OECD
release - Technology, Productivity and Job Creation: Best policy Practices
(1998) - that some of the innovations observed in modern enterprises are
creating high performance workplaces:
- Marked specialization of enterprises or business units (focus on 'core'
- Horizontal inter-firm links for subcontracting or outsourcing
- Effective use of technology
- Increasing flattened hierarchies in which greater importance is accorded
to horizontal communication links.
- Information is gathered at more levels and channeled hierarchically
- Authority to act is less dependent on hierarchical models of authority
- Employees are better trained and more responsive
- Multi-skilling and job rotation increase, blurring differences between
- Small self-managing or autonomous work groups are common and take more
On the other hand, progress in global knowledge innovation has been slow as
evidenced by a number of surveys studied. Although managers consider
themselves working in knowledge-intensive organizations, few consider their
organizations effective at facilitating knowledge growth or even less at
the ability to apply knowledge. The lack of progress, he suggests, is not
because of a lack of top level management commitment, but the lack of the
ability to adequately measure performance. "Slow progress in
operationalizing knowledge management at the level of the enterprise
translates into uneven transition into a knowledge economy."
As a country, the French are wrestling with many of the same issues and
challenges are other nations of the world. How do they harness the
intellectual wealth to create a prosperous future? It is a function of
government, industry and academic interaction. It is a function of
heritage. It is a matter of country leaders being bold enough to establish
a vision which is not outdated by the time implementation plans are
developed. It is a matter of developing a common language and shared vision
among many different disciplines and trends shaping the future. It is a
matter of building collaborative (not competitive) advantage with visible
leadership within the nation, within the geographic region and influencing
progress around the world. One thing is for certain: a path into to the
future does require some insightful and imaginative knowledge strategy.
Otherwise, the future is left to serendipity.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org & email@example.com
Nick Duffill and Patrick Mayfield
When someone gives you an updated copy of the company organization chart,
it is probable that the first thing you do is to take a look to "see where
you are", or rather, assess the reach of available power bases. What lies
behind this simple action?
First, we note that a diagrammatic representation is the accepted medium
for organization charts. Only if you wanted to actively hide information
would you consider writing it out longhand - the recipients would need to
read it carefully several times to be certain whether they had moved up,
down or sideways.
Second, it is much easier to discern relationships in diagrams than in
paragraphs of text. This is because you are additionally using visual
processing faculties as well as reading words, and a lot of evolution has
gone into understanding spatial relationships and anticipating
consequences. An organization chart in particular describes relationships,
influences, and ultimately causes and effects. It provides an insight into
the hierarchy which words alone would have difficulty in conveying.
Many other kinds of information are hierarchical structures, but are less
commonly represented diagrammatically. However, the advantages of using a
diagram are the same as in the case of the organization chart - a clearer
understanding of relationships within the information, by using the visual
cortex to help process the data.
Tony Buzan recognized this many years ago in his 'Mind Mapping' technique,
developing the idea of using hierarchical maps to help with the learning
process, and extending it with colours and symbols to trigger later recall.
A key part of the Mind Mapping process is the development of skills in
creating Mind Maps through understanding the relationships between pieces
of information, rather than just trying to remember items in isolation.
This exploits the mind's natural ability to link things together and recall
connected sequences rather than random facts. A subject which is understood
is far easier to remember than one which makes little sense. Not only does
mapping out information visually help with understanding, but it also helps
considerably in the creative process. Seeing one's thoughts on paper
increases awareness of causes and effects, and makes symmetries and gaps
more apparent. Thinking about fundamental relationships rather than just
facts is a trigger for new ideas in the best traditions of de Bono's
Pen-and-paper Mind Mapping has enormous value as a personal tool, but does
not follow through into the phase where most of us operate the best -
continuous refinement. It is typically easier to make a series of small
improvements on something than to get it "right first time". Worse,
relatively few managers in Western business are ready to accept mapped
information as opposed to traditional documents. The good news is that Mind
Mapping software has now come of age, providing an environment where maps
can be endlessly manipulated and developed without showing signs of ageing.
Detail can be hidden or shown at will, and the results can be instantly
published as diagrams, documents or interactive websites. MindJET's
MindManagerTM software, for example, supports concept mapping from a few early thoughts right through to a complex project, and all points in between.
So how does this relate to Knowledge Management? First, an environment
which stimulates and fosters the elicitation process is a powerful tool,
especially when used interactively. The visual feedback from the map
creates a sense of shared understanding rather than mere information
extraction, and helps enormously in clarifying misunderstandings before
they can take hold. When you write something down, you are taking notes,
perhaps for later analysis. If you draw it in a diagram, you are
illustrating your comprehension, which is a very different matter. Second,
the fact that a map shows insights beyond the words it contains makes it a
potential vehicle for transferring knowledge as opposed to information, if
we temporarily define knowledge as "information in context".
The army does not sit soldiers in a warm classroom and teach them how to be
disciplined, and how to respond in life-threatening situations. It takes
them out into muddy ditches, day after day, and just makes them do it until
it becomes instinctive. It would be too costly to hope that soldiers could
bridge the gap from classroom theory to ugly reality and draw practical
conclusions fast enough to stay alive. Yet most of us make these mental
leaps (in a business sense) every day, when trying to apply ideas from
books or courses. This is the "medium gap", where potentially valuable
knowledge is presented in one medium, but applied in another; such
sacrifices are made for the sake of optimizing the interface at the point
of transfer. Techniques which aim to close that gap contribute towards a
more effective transfer of knowledge, on the basis that knowledge is not
something you know, but something you can actually use. By far the most
valuable parts of a textbook on applied mathematics are the worked
examples, just in case they look a bit like your homework problem.
A flexible Mind Map also allows elements of the Knowledge Base to be
cross-referenced in novel ways, re-assembled and mobilized to meet a
specific client requirement. For example, suppose a service business offers
a wide portfolio through a group of operatives, who are geographically
dispersed in the field. Knowledge management can help identify and track
such things as products and competencies. But can such elements be
creatively and rapidly linked to a specific, unique client requirement?
What is needed here is not just a repository of knowledge. The organization
needs to identify potentially relevant and potent new configurations of
people and products that could provide a better service to the client.
Innovative solutions are often required, rather than simply relying on
minor improvements to off-the-shelf solutions that may have worked in the
past. The Mind Map provides an opportunity to take a different view of
things: not only to see new synergistic relationships of items intellectual
capital within a business, but to go further and provide reassembled maps
as a customer proposition. Using a computerized tool such as
MindManagerTM, either solo or in a team setting, these reassembled
propositions can be developed quickly, and tested for coherence and
The ultimate "cookbook" is thus a single medium which contains the
information, the explanation, the worked example and the tool with which to
apply it all to real-world problems. MindManager's Expert Package concept
delivers just this, using maps to guide the approach to a particular task.
This provides a framework which stimulates the user into developing their
own understanding of their own task, borrowing some ideas and triggering
new ones to achieve something beyond a textbook worked example. This
combination of facts, understanding, experience and suggestions in a form
which can be applied to real tasks is a potent example of the meaning of
"the medium is the message".
Nick Duffill, M-Urge Ltd, http://www.mindman.co.uk
Patrick Mayfield, Pearce Mayfield Associates, http://www.p-m-a.co.uk
Announced at Knowledge Summit '98 were the winners of this survey, based on
responses from 300 executives from the US, Europe and Australasia.
Sponsored by Business Intelligence and the Journal of Knowledge Management
(where you can read more about them and the various subcategories), the
five companies recognized for ther world-class knowledge creation and
- Lucent Technologies
- Ernst & Young
Criteria included overall quality of knowledge programme, success in
maximizing intellectual assets, contribution to innovation and several
others. The top ten companies were all US based (though the US represents
55 per cent of responses), with Nokia the top European company, followed by
Skandia, Siemens and BP.
Manuel Benitez Codas
"I found very interesting your view about innovation in Europe. I had the
opportunity of working with Europeans (Spaniards and Italians specifically)
in a project for developing the wooden furniture manufacturing in Paraguay.
We have a lot of problems in transmitting to local entrepreneurs the
innovation spirit. After reading your paper I realized why we found that
Focusing innovation only in production technology based on research and
benchmarking with European companies production techniques is not the best
way to start. I agree with your view that innovation (understood as
improving dramatically what we do today mainly by doing it radically
differently) must be permanently present in purchasing, design, production,
packaging, sales, administration, etc. The most immediate results occur
mainly by just starting to improve the way we do things. After realizing that
innovation makes sense (because most entrepreneurs do not think in that
way) it's possible to start a more comprehensive innovation process.
I hope my contribution will be useful, at least to start a discussion.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (Ing. Manuel Benitez Codas)
In an essay, 'Knowledge Management', ... Sharing or Spectating?, October
15, 1998, Ted Lumley reflects on three contrasting emails, including the
last edition of I3 UPDATE. Some extracts:
"Emile juggled three of the fresh messages in his mind, one from Henri
expressing impatience with Emile's 'Bar des Pins' essay, suggesting it was
symptomatic of the coming on of Emile's second teenagehood, ... another
from David giving a journalistic update on the KM 'movement' and the third,
from Jan, which shared activist impressions of KM from the 'underground'.
"How could he get it across to someone, he mused, who was hyperanxious to
capture KM recipes and cook up quickie solutions, that there could be no
recipe? How could you tell them that there were no logical frameworks,
based on 'detached' observations, which were capable of inquiry into
observer-including metamorphosis? "
Emile felt very content with his decision to drop out of active involvement
in the corporate-culture oriented branch of the KM movement. As he had
suspected it would, this 'mainstream' of KM had opted for 'voyeur space'
views, ... 'logical frameworks' and 'recipes' which were blinding the KM
practice to the horrendous 'metamorphosis' which was underway, which Jan's
'shared space' view was exposing him to, ... a view which showed us ALL
being pulled into a vortical metamorphosis in which our 'logical
framework-driven' economy-of-the-inessential, was beginning to morph into
an 'experience-pulled' survival economy.
David's portrait of industry KM activity was right on target, ... a picture
of Nero fiddling while Rome burned, and Jan's participative, 'worms eye'
view of KM was equally 'on the money', .... of an oncoming tsunami of
A close-out scene formed in Emile's mind in which Kepler and Heisenberg
looked down on the KM crowd from the Goodyear Blimp, with Kepler shouting
encouragements to, ... "Look from the Tower of Jupiter, as Jan is doing",
and Heisenberg moving nervously around the rim of the cockpit, brooding
over them like a mother hen, saying; ... "Don't forget the relational
interference terms which are only present in the wave view, the ones that
Jan is 'tuning' into".
High overhead, in an ultralight, Heraclitus makes a cameo appearance, his
right hand stroking his white beard, as he shakes his head and says', ..."I
knew Pythagorus and Parmenides were going to screw it up, .... the learning
of many things is NOT what KM is all about".
Read The Full Essay
16-18 November. Knowledge Management for Chemicals '98, Amsterdam.
including Interactive Workshops. First Conferences.
2-4 December. Knowledge Management in the Telecommunications Industry, New
Orleans. ACT Conferences. Contact Nancy Smith 417-889-9300.
8-9 December. Knowledge Management '98, London (not to be confused with
Knowledge Summit '98!). Usurping the Business Intelligence label, this is
The Strategic Planning Society Conference.
Tel: +44 171 608 3491
8-9 December. Knowledge Management and the HR Function, London. Ark
8-10 December, 1998. Knowledge Management Conference/Data Warehouse
Summit, Phoenix, AZ. DCI.
15th December 1998. Knowledge Management in the Finance Function. London.
With participation from David Skyrme Associates (see events). IIR.
Tel: +44 171 915 5055
8-9 January. Knowledge Management and Organizational Learning, San
Francisco. The Conference Board and IBM.
20-22 January. 20th Annual McMaster Business Conference, "The 3rd World
Congress on the Management of Intellectual Capital".
24-25 March. Knowledge Management: The Information Management Event,
London. Learned Information.
© Copyright, 1998. David Skyrme Associates Limited and Authors - All rights reserved.
This newsletter is copyright material. In the interests of dissemination of
information, forward circulation is permitted provided it is distributed in
its entirety including these notices, that it is not posted to newsgroups
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of a commercial transaction. For other uses please contact the publisher.
I3 UPDATE / ENTOVATION International News is a joint publication of David Skyrme Associates Limited and ENTOVATION International Limited - providers of trends analysis, strategic advice and workshops on knowledge management
and knowledge innovation®
Email: email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
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® Knowledge Innovation is a registered trade mark of ENTOVATION International.