I3 UPDATE / ENTOVATION International News
No. 28: April 1999
Germany: Blossoming with the Knowledge Agenda - Debra M. Amidon
Most Admired Knowledge Enterprises:
MAKESM - details of a new MAKESM Europe Survey by Teleos
Knowledge Era Enterprising - Charles Savage
Tacit and Implicit are NOT the same - "Sri" Sridharan
MIT: Minds, Information, Technology - Touraj Nasseri
The Degree of Focus is What's New About KM - Robert Taylor
Knowledge Management Events
Welcome to this edition of I3 UPDATE / ENTOVATION International News, a free briefing analyzing developments and key issues in the networked
knowledge economy. This edition features the World Business Dialogue held in Cologne, plus some responses received to our recent article 'Will the Real Knowledge Management Please Stand up' in (I3 UPDATE No. 27).
I3 UPDATE is also available by email. See the administrative information page.
David J. Skyrme
Debra M. Amidon
They came from all over the world to Cologne, Germany - as they do every
two years to participate in the World Business Dialogue - 1200
participants, 130 speakers, 70 countries. This year the congress - the
world's largest student-run convention, featured the theme "Know:
Rethinking Knowledge." Opening with an exhibit - "The Art of Knowledge,"
they were able to convene an insightful cast of presenters ranging from
students to the Chief Economist of the World Bank with numerous acclaimed
authors, publishers, CEO's, academic, government officials and yes - even
the trade unions - in between. Discussants talked about the new economic
system with new rules:
"Being conscious of the birth of this new system, one has to be aware of the fact that the process and the development, speed and direction are not
determined forces but are dependent on people who actively have to shape
With welcoming words of Wolfgang Clement, President of North Rhine -
Westphalia, conferees learned:
"Globalisation makes knowledge the most important economic factor of all, and today, more than ever before, it is the question of economic power or powerlessness which decides a society's destiny. The arc extends from the
new understanding of the generation of knowledge - under the catchword of
lifelong learning. It passes through the imparting of knowledge in the era
of new media, all the way to the delicate questions of the ethical
boundaries of the uses of knowledge or even the consequences which the
knowledge society has in store for the future of employment."
The presidium of Organisations-forum Wirtschaftskongress (OFW) is ably
advised by a board of trustees whose 71 renowned members are drawn from the
worlds of European business and academia. Three congress advisors included
the Chairmen of the boards of HOCHTIEF AG, Gerling-Konzern and Deutsche
Poste AG. Their presence was anything but symbolic. They were active
participants in the dialogue - sharing their insights, hosting presenters
and inspiring the student initiative. Do not miss their Web site
http://www.ofw.de. You will not be disappointed.
The Millennium Generation:
Our future is in good hands. I find this in every corner of the world; but
here, the Cologne students have accomplished something extraordinary.
Originating in 1984, the (OFW) - now a 34 (all honorary) student team -
works to gain practical experience in addition to the theory the university
provides. These bi-annual conventions bridge the gap between generations
and nations and provide a common prospect of the opportunities and risks of
The organization structure is impressive with three Chairmen - Daniel Wolf,
Andreas Langner and Stefan Menden). It includes 8 departments (e.g.,
Finance, HR, PR, Marketing, Corporate Relations, et al) and a Convention
Team (including Press, Car Pool, Speaker Support Team, Security, Technics
et al). There is a symposium in the year between conventions, a roundtable
on privatization, EuroTour, and a subsidiary called OSCAR, a management
consulting firm run by the students delivering services - 150 projects - to
clients such as Lufthansa, Siemens and BMW. And there is more...
In addition to the content and format innovation, OFW reaches all over the
world for student essays on the topic of the convention. In an intensive
competition complete with review committee, 1,111 papers from students in
83 countries - from Albania to Zimbabwe - were received. 400 of the best
were selected and those individuals came from over 70 countries to
participate in the Dialogue. There were three topic areas for the essays
and the finalist in each:
- Janusz Brzeszczynski (University of Lodz) - "The Impact of Knowledge on
the Development of Contemporary Society"
- Atul Singh (Indian Institute of Management - Bangalore) - "Integration of
Knowledge Management into Organizations."
- Neeraj Kumar (Indian Institute of Management) - "New Definition of Work
Facing the Next Millennium."
Thanks to a grant from Joachim Doering, Vice President, Information and
Communications Networks (ICM), Siemens AG, the original papers submitted
will be analyzed by Jan Wyllie, Trend Monitor International and distributed
by ENTOVATION International as a foundation document for the next congress in 2001. It should be ready for release mid-May. Stay tuned!
Also, Stefan Fazekas firstname.lastname@example.org and Manfred Bornemann
email@example.com have completed the German translation of Innovation
Strategy and the Knowledge Economy: the Ken Awakening, including the Study
Guide that is available electronically upon request.
Dialogue Across Ideology and Generations:
The challenge began with the opening address by Kenneth Courtis, 1st VP
Deutsche Bank Asia Pacific, defining "The change will not be academic; it
will depend upon you!" It continued through the closing address by Joseph
Stigiltz, Senior VP and Chief Economist of The World Bank who provided
insight into the Bank's mandate "to become a knowledge bank, not a bank of
finance and we are putting the framework in place."
Keynotes, panels and workshop executive sessions were organized according
to the following topical areas:
- Day 1
- Knowledge as the Basis for Economic Growth
- The Structure of a Knowledge-Based Society
- Concepts of Education for the Era of Continuous Change
- Global Infrastructures for Knowledge Transfer
- The Knowledge Society - Challenges for Social Norms and Structures
- Create the World for 2050
- The Future of Work - Challenges for Government, Industry and the Individual
- Day 2
- Dealing with Knowledge in the Company
- Components of a Knowledge Organization
- The Knowledge Worker - Concepts for Future Human Resource Policies
- Organizing Knowledge - Challenges to Modern IT Systems
- Creating Holistic Knowledge Management
- Knowledge in Innovation Processes
- Aspects of Implementation of Modern Knowledge-Management
- Knowledge is Power - The Source of Long-lasting Competitiveness
Now, these topical areas are not necessarily new - at least on the
knowledge conference circuit. What was astounding about this event was that
the people doing the speaking on the topics were not necessarily the
familiar names. Some were; but for the most part, they represented the
thought leaders and decision-makers in the sectors across many nations of
Of course, there were the lead academics (e.g., Ikujiro Nonaka, Peter Senge
and others from Boston University, INSEAD, University of Geneve, and more).
There were CEO's (Chris Cramer from CNN, Dr. Meinhard Miegel from IWG Bonn,
Dennis Tsichritzis from GMD, Vilim Vasat from BBDO, Tom Middelhoff from
Bertelsmann, Ron Sommer from Deutsche Telecom, etc.); Boards Members (e.g.,
Rudolph H.P. Markum from Unilever), several authors (e.g., John Naisbitt,
Tom Stewart, Jim Botkin, Debra M. Amidon). They were architects of new
organizational structures (e.g., George Por). They were practitioners with
tried and true knowledge practices (e.g., Christian Kurtzke and Joachim
Doering from Siemens). They included many of the Presidents and CEOs (or
senior partners) of major consulting forms (e.g., Arthur D. Little, Arthur
Andersen, EDS, Diebold, IBM, BCG, KPMG, McKinsey & Company) There were
Ministers of Education, heads of labor unions, ambassadors as well as
scientific and cultural attaches. The represented far corners of the world
(e.g., South Africa, India, Peru, Malaysia, Japan and more, many more).
In short it was an exceptional pooling of expertise and as closest I have
seen to the harnessing of our worldwide collective intelligence. The
substance of the dialogue was so robust, I cannot do it justice here.
There were some themes that emerge from many of the speakers:
- It's not the technology, it's the social implications thereof - the
- We can create and incentivize the environment to produce more knowledge
- The focus on knowledge goes well beyond the enterprise in terms of
economic policies and practices; it is a matter of establishing modern
- It is a function of balance and harmony; not either-or, win-lose scenarios.
- There may be some answers in collaboration.
- Developing nations are using the knowledge economy as one way to level
the playing field.
- This is only the beginning of a major societal transformation, the
implications of which we are just beginning to comprehend.
There were the normal discoveries usually articulated in forums, but I have
tried to select a few unusual pearls of wisdom. We urge both conference
participants and others to purchase from the students the CD-ROM they are
preparing. It promises to be a compilation of insight we have not yet
witnessed in the evolution of the movement.
- "Greater cooperation among competition authorities might be desirable,
especially if this led to more effective enforcement of competition
standards and a leveling up of those standards - to the highest rather than
the lowest common denominator." (Kenneth S. Courtis - Japan)
- "Asia cannot be left behind, Asia has a lot to learn. The Asian Crisis will
ultimately lead to increased economic wealth, not unbridled capitalism."
(Dato Sri Mohd Najib Tun Razak - Malaysia)
- "Tell me where knowledge has not been the factor in development, how to
write, how to communicate. What has changed is what we value in knowledge.
Knowledge is central to our place in the cosmos." (Maria Livanos Cattaui -
- "Knowledge management and telecommunications are closely linked. On the
one hand, telecommunications is characterized by leaps of innovation. On the
other hand, in the increasing competition, retaining of the customer
requires consistent processing." (Ron Sommer - Germany)
- "Western countries and international institutions have not been good
transmitters of social know-how, because of the lack of will, inadequate
knowledge of Ukraine's and other East European countries particularities
and because of their conviction that their ways are the right ways."
(Bohdan Hawrylyshyn - Canada)
- "The Millennium Generation will have far more opportunities to create a
world we can hardly imagine today. A large portion of the jobs which will
exist tomorrow haven't been created today!" (Robert D. Hormats - USA)
- "Governments wishing to develop knowledge-based economies must recognize,
protect and reward the generation and exploitation of knowledge." (Rudolph
H.P. Markum - Unilever)
- "We live in a society where information is cheap. Knowledge is expensive
and wisdom is rare." (Dennis Tsichritzis - GMD)
- For the organization of a virtual campus, a more student-oriented
structure is required rather than the conventional university structure we
know today. Traditional universities will become closer to the virtual
distance teaching universities than moving in the other direction." (Helmut
Hoyer - University of Hagen - Germany)
- "The African Renaissance provides hope for Africa. The new democracies in
more than two-thirds of Africa are an indication of a discourse for a
renewed Africa, a watershed moment in the historical trajectory, shaping the
future of the continent." (Teboho Moja - South Africa)
- "The key problem is to foster an open-minded, liberal and creative
educational system without being overwhelmed by cultural values and
attitudes that may be alien to our traditional values. There is a tension
between the need for openness and the desire to preserve the cultural and
moral traditions of our societies." (Walter Woon, Ambassador, Republic of
- "The faster the world hurries into the future and changes, the more we
need to be assured by history and the fixed symbols in it. The more cultures
we meet, the more we have to be aware of our own culture." (Hartmut von
Hentig - Germany)
- "At the verge of the 21st century, the picture of an internationally
linked world of societies as a decisive power is sharpening. A highly
dramatic economic development requires social changes and political
innovations." (Jurgen Turek - University of Munich)
- "Why now? You think about something when it becomes important.
Competition demands a better use of knowledge." (Gilbert J.B. Probst -
University of Geneve)
- "The accelerating pace of technological change is tipping the scale and
we need to return to the human scale which was abandoned in the industrial
era. There is a need to form a new understanding of technology, an
understanding that takes into account art, philosophy, religion and
ethics." (John Naisbitt - Author)
- "Knowledge-based products and smart services are those that embed
knowledge and learning in them. Every company will become a knowledge
business as we evolve in 20 years into the bio-economy." (Jim Botkin -
- "Knowledge is fundamentally different from Information. Information is
indifferent to knowledge values. Knowledge is grounded in context,
experience and purposeful action. 'Ba' is a shared space for emerging
relationships. It can be physical, virtual or mental." (Ikujiro Nonaka)
- "In knowledge -intensive companies, employees are, often, investors -
true capitalists in their own right, who take risks and invest their time
and intelligence in the expectation of return." (Thomas Stewart - Fortune)
- "Could the competence economy comprise everybody? Who will take care of
the social challenges of the knowledge society? Will it be the market, a
new generation of business leaders or governments? Or, will it be the
so-called 'third sector' or consumers, users, traditional or new interest
groups, organizations and associations?" (Lennard Forseback - Sweden)
You must be getting the picture, the dialogue in this conference raised the
stakes of the implications of the knowledge economy to the level of
societal transformation in all its dimensions. No longer can the knowledge
agenda be perceived as one of company productivity or even merely
productive growth. No longer can the agenda be seen as US or
European-centric. No longer can the knowledge agenda be perceived as a
consulting fad soon to give way to the next flavor of the month. There is
something far more substantial - not that it is crystal clear at this point
in time; but the right questions are being raised in the right forums with
the right people who have access to the resources and decision-making
processes which can make a difference.
Copyright ENTOVATION International, Ltd. All rights reserved.
As mentioned briefly in I3 UDPATE No. 25, Teleos conducted a Most Admired Knowledge Enterprises (MAKE(sm)) study, based on nominations and voting by business executives. The overall winner was Lucent Technologies (score
9.29), followed by Intel (9.17) and Monsanto (9.13). Winners in individual
- Overall Quality of Knowledge Program - Xerox
- Top Management Support - Buckman Laboratories
- Contribution to Innovation - Lucent Technologies
- Maximizing Intellectual Assets - Intel
- Effectiveness of Knowledge Sharing - Ernst & Young
- Culture of Continuous Learning - Lucent Technologies
- Creating Customer Value and Loyalty - Lucent Technologies
- Contribution to Shareholder Value - Microsoft
These and other MAKESM winners are featured in a forthcoming conference (see Events). Introducing MAKESM winners the conference brochure notes:
"The majority of MAKESM winners have had to consciously create conditions for the identification, transfer and use of corporate knowledge.
Each of (the eight) knowledge performance attributes forms one aspect of
knowledge management; taken together they provide an accurate guide to
identifying those organizations which see knowledge as the competitive
differentiator in our 21st century digital economy.
Perhaps the key knowledge performance attribute is the chief executive's
support for knowledge management. This support involves articulating a
clear vision for the organization, including how it is going to become a
Inaugurated in 1998, MAKESM is now an established benchmark for leading knowledge-based organizations. Further information on the 1998 results can
be found at the Teleos knowledge management web site: http://www.knowledgebusiness.com.
Most Admired Knowledge Enterprises (MAKESM) Europe Survey
Teleos with continuing support from Business Intelligence and the Journal
of Knowledge Management, is now undertaking a MAKESM Europe study. This research seeks to identify European organizations (companies founded and with headquarters in Europe) which are leaders in the knowledge economy. The survey will require approximately 5 minutes to complete. The survey questionnaire is found at the Teleos web site: http://www.knowledgebusiness.com.
From the completed questionnaires one form will be picked at random. Teleos
will donate $100 to the winner's charity of choice.
An executive summary of the winners of this 1999 MAKESM Europe study will be published on the Teleos knowledge management web site in June 1999.
Your contribution to this study is extremely important. Please take a
few minutes and complete the questionnaire - and help your favorite charity!
Contact: Rory Chase, Teleos
Teleos Web site: http://www.knowledgebusiness.com
Right on! Really enjoy your newsletters, especially your note on KM and its
distortions. Keep pushing, as we have to make a breakthrough.
Have the feeling that we are approaching KM with an Industrial Era
mentality, ah, one more thing to manage, and this is to miss the real
opportunity of thinking about K from a Knowledge Era perspective.
The choice of K "management" is really the limiting factor. Ultimately, we
will get to the point of seeing things from the perspective of "knowledge
Another theme to prove is the interrelationship between value
(value-adding) and values, or the broader perspective of value, values,
valuing and valuation. These four terms came out
of a conversation with George Por, Hubert Saint-Onge, Gordon Petrash and
myself for about two years. They need further mining.
Keep the newsletters coming.
Your recent editorial "Will the real knowledge management please stand up"
is interesting and timely as it confronts issues that are important to the
development, dynamics and impact of knowledge management.
The persistent misgivings about knowledge management seem to be expressed
in these questions: why is knowledge management a distinct discipline?;
why do we need it, given the existing management disciplines and practices
?; and what is it anyway? I think these are good questions and must be
carefully analyzed and answered to illuminate knowledge management. I hope
that I3 UPDATE/ENTOVATION International News will stage an enlightening debate between the thoughtful skeptics and advocates of managing knowledge.
Here are my brief observations on the significance of knowledge management
for the sustained superior performance of enterprises.
I find it singularly unproductive to dwell on definitions, but I should
just mention what I mean by knowledge. Knowledge consists in human minds
(M), information(I) and technology(T) and their symbiotic interaction; this
definition yields the acronym MIT which aptly contains IT and may one day
receive the attention that is now focused on one of its parts: IT.
Knowledge management is an imperative of the knowledge economy. If the
distinctive input of a knowledge economy, and most of the value of its
outputs is knowledge, then it would be crass if leaders of business ,
academic and government organizations did not seek convincing answers to
the question : what are the significant implications of knowledge economics
for our organization? The visionary and enlightened leader would ask: how
do we assess what knowledge do we need to achieve our strategic and
operational goals, how best do we acquire the knowledge?; how do we
share and seek knowledge, collectively learn and leverage knowledge for
maximum productivity?; are our human capital development, information and
technology management aligned with each other and with the business
Knowledge can be managed-i.e..., made most enduringly productive- either
by the design and implementation of a customized knowledge management system
or through changes in the existing management systems and organizational
design. The exigency of improvement in enterprise knowledge management is
becoming increasingly manifest. Here are but two examples. A recent survey
of 100,000 Canadian employees by International Survey Research LLC found a
serious weakness in managers' ability to use their knowledge workers
effectively. In a an interview published in the current Harvard Business
Review, the CEO of Ford Motor Company said that lack of willingness to
share information , let alone new ideas, was a major obstacle to creativity
and escalated operational costs at Ford.
The dismissive treatment of knowledge management is reminiscent of the
dismissive attitude towards quality management in its embryonic days. Yet
we know that managing quality was decisive in winning customers ,investors
Socrates said that the supreme wisdom is recognition of one's ignorance.
May be our supremely wise enterprise leaders should try to know what they
do not know. This would be a great start to managing knowledge.
Edmonton, AB Canada
Voice: + 1 780 430 8768
Fax: + 1 780 433 0050
Thank you once again for a thought-provoking newsletter. I was especially
interested in the feature 'Will the real KM please stand up'. I think the
single, defining aspect of the KM 'movement' is the focus on knowledge
(and/or information - lets not get trapped in that one!) content: meeting
knowledge needs, exploiting knowledge assets and supporting knowledge flows.
The mantra 'people, process, technology' is orthodoxy now - a shorthand
meaning 'treating problems holistically' as a reaction to solely IT-driven
change. But to be in the KM business the mantra must be 'content, people,
process, technology' (plus strategy, environment etc. - to be really
holistic). This is the first time that content (in both its static and
active senses) has been centre-stage. So where do all these other
'pretenders' (e.g. document management, continuous improvement etc.) stand,
then? Well, they can all be part of the picture. KM includes IM and
provides at last the context for applications such as document management
that have been looking for some time for a wider application beyond their
old niches. KM is also extremely topical in the light of the growing
interest in intellectual capital since, broadly speaking, KM is its
management discipline - what I mean is that KM is also (i.e. as well as its
operational purposes) about creating intellectual capital.
Quite a number of people say to me words to the effect: 'Now you've
explained KM I understand that it's something we already do' - but I don't
think they generally do. Generally such organisations are in what I would
call a 'laissez-faire' (which can be either positive or negative - just
depends on luck if you're not doing anything active about it) or 'quasi-KM'
state. Yes they have a number of facilities or processes that make sense in
KM terms - it would be hard to imagine any organisations that could exist
without such. But they have probably not integrated them nor explicitly
developed them with concepts such as intellectual capital, knowledge assets,
best practices etc. in mind, and, in my view, what we in KM are about is
very much the development and integration of knowledge initiatives - taking
them to the next level to help organisations create and deploy differential
knowledge assets and capabilities. It is this degree of focus that is 'new'
about KM - we have not invented 'natural' effects such as communities,
storytelling etc. but we have realised the potential of deliberately
supporting and linking them - that is what makes it what I would call 'the
I'm really sorry to hear about the reaction to 'the dreaded K word' but
haven't we seen this backlash against the hype coming? Neither the hype nor
the backlash help those like you and I who are in this for the long run.
I've made knowledge, thinking, intelligence and decision-making the central
planks of my consulting approach for a dozen years - a dozen years of a lot
of client embarrassment about talking about 'K' but also a fair number of
proven benefits of confronting it. Only in the last three years has K come
out of the closet. We need it kept out in the open. K matters. It isn't a
jargon word - it means something we all understand. KM is shaping up
(surprisingly) fast into a good discipline. And KM is a good name for it.
I'm shoulder-to-shoulder with you on this one - I'll stand up for KM too.
Knowledge Management, KPMG
+ 44 (0)171 311 8021
PS: We have a new KM publication (I sent you hardcopy) and an on-line KM
diagnostic tool on the KPMG web site, www.kpmg.co.uk
PPS: I'm not claiming ownership, but 'common sense, but not common practice'
has been my stock answer to rebuffs for years! I expect I heard it somewhere
else - I forget. Share and enjoy!
A suggestion on using the terms. Tacit and Implicit are not interchangeable.
According to Polanyi who introduced the term in epistemology (book with the
title of Tacit Knowledge) tacit refers to things we know that CANNOT be
made explicit, or rather very difficult to make explicit. Examples are:
- ability to recognize grammaticality
- ability to say that is not a word even though we do not know all the words in the dictionary
- how we recognize faces
- how we associate taste with food items and so on.
Implicit is that which has not been made explicit and presumed to be possible.
Explicit is that which has been written, recorded as text, audio, video or
Perhaps Shared should be distinguished. Implicit could be shared and
explicit could be shared.
If possible, I would like our industry experts not to throw around the term
Tacit when they really mean Implicit.
Dr. N.S. "Sri" Sridharan
Intel Corp, Chandler AZ.
5-23 April. Knowledge Innovation: Operationalizing the Concepts, Debra
Amidon. A three week virtual course sponsored by the Knowledge Ecology
13-14 April. Knowledge Management in R&D: Emerging Trends in Innovation
Management, London. IQPC.
26-28 April. Designing a Virtual Corporate University, Washington DC.
Corporate University Xchange.
12-13 May. Return On Intelligence: Innovative Strategies at Work, Toronto.
Strategic Leadership Forum, Toronto Chapter.
18-19 May. Most Admired Knowledge Enterprises 1999. Presentations from
Knowledge Leaders as found by the MAKESM survey (see Snippets). London, Business Intelligence:
25-26 May. Knowledge Management II: Intranets and Beyond, London. Ark
27-28 May. Intangibles: Management, Measurement and Organization. 2nd
Intangible Conference, New York City. Contact: Autherine Allison, Stern
School of Business, New York University.
© Copyright, 1999. David Skyrme Associates Limited and Authors - All rights reserved.
This newsletter is copyright material. In the interests of dissemination of
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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®
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