a free monthly briefing on the knowledge agenda
|No. 46||December 2000|
Knowledge Management Europe 2000
20 - 22 November, Palais de Congres in Brussels
This European and international event (Conference and Exhibition) organized by Ark Group and the European Commission, sponsored by CCE, Microsoft, Compaq, BT, Siemens and more, brought together over 2000 people. It was a real pleasure to see the EC involved in the knowledge movement.
The keynote presentations of Larry Prusak (IBM) and Stephen Denning (The World Bank) of the of opening day attracted 800 and 600 people respectively, a record for any Knowledge presentation.
Larry Prusak opened with a 'traditional' examination of the key enablers and enemies of knowledge management. He emphasised the importance of establishing a level of connectivity within an organisation, as well as focusing on local level communities and addressing organisational KM needs with passion and caring. An over-reliance on technology, however, was identified as a major enemy of effective knowledge management.
"There is no such thing as a knowledge management system," he said. "There are just people who know things. Knowledge does not exist outside what a person knows." Prusak also warned against the dangers of trying to measure knowledge, highlighting instead the importance of "justification by faith".
Steve Denning who just published The Springboard: How Storytelling Ignites Action in Knowledge-Era Organizations, Butterworth Heinemann, began the afternoon's programme presenting how important is to know how to share knowledge. His opinion is that storytelling as a technique can act as a springboard for organisational change. He believes that the technique "allows people to live and feel and really get inside the ideas you are trying to get across", thus overcoming the difficulties of trying to communicate the complexities of KM.
Next day, Marcus Speh, knowledge manager at Shell International, delivered the third keynote presentation of the programme. He discussed the future of knowledge management in the new economy, calling for a more holistic, complex systems approach, and integrated framework for KM initiatives. TQM and BPR heritage is important as well as different aspects of the process (biology, physics, psychology). Content, context and connectivity is an other point of view. In reality all domain experience and all theories - general systems, cybernetics, dynamics, chaos... - could be useful. In short KM needs all talents.
Although knowledge management as a discipline has come of age, argued Speh, the context in which businesses now operate is forcing a reconsideration of how KM should be focused. He added: "While there is a great deal to be proud of, knowledge management has yet to realise its full potential."
Leif Edvinsson (formerly of Skandia) claimed Intellectual Capital as the greatest value of an enterprise or organization. Financial results could be seen as a tree with plenty of fruits, but intellectual values are the roots of the tree. There are no fruits and no tree without roots. There is no future without IC. The Skandia Knowledge Navigator was presented at the Exhibition. Edvinsson has also initiated ICC, the Intellectual Capital Community on the web. To join see http://www.iccommunity.com.
Prusak, Denning, Edvinsson were recently recognised for the contribution they have made to knowledge management, each appearing in the top twenty most admired knowledge leaders (see MAKL I3 UPDATE No. 45).
The Round Table
The same day I had the opportunity and pleasure to join a Round Table with Charlotte Newton (Glaxo), Ove Rustung Hjelmervik, Ron Young, Marcus Speh and other interesting people and share experiences and opinions.
Some enterprises, such as British Telecom, Siemens, Xerox, Alcor and others, presented their experiences. British Telecom has developed an intelligent Intranet using knowledge modeling to avoid information overload. Alcor organized an intelligent real-time survey system. Siemens and Daimler Benz, leaders of the KM movement in Germany are now selling their experience, as does BT.
Unfortunately I had to leave on the final day, invited by French Ministry of Education to join e-education colloquium and I therefore missed the presentations of Ron Young and Ove Rustung Hjelmervik.
A full exhibition, featuring stands run by over 100 of the world's leading knowledge companies, ran alongside the presentations. Some main exhibitors had an opportunity to explain their products (a lot) and services (a few) during the conference.
Most of vendors' comprehension of KM is the same as Bill Gates (Business &the Speed of Thought) : "Knowledge management is nothing more than managing information flow, getting the right information to the people who need it so that they can act on it quickly".
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