I3 UPDATE / ENTOVATION International News
No. 23: September 1998
The MIS Contribution to Knowledge Management - Lessons Learned?
Insights from Latin America - Debra Amidon
Economic Turbulence: The Need for Global Knowledge Leadership
What Matter Most - AOM 98 Meeting Report - Mohi Ahmed
Welcome to this edition of I3 UPDATE / ENTOVATION International News, a free briefing analysing developments and key issues in the networked
knowledge economy. Who says August is a quiet month? As world economies
stagger, can we really cope with the knowledge economy? We give a view.
This month focuses on the MIS (Management Information Systems) contribution
to Knowledge Management and developments in Latin America. Later in the
month we will be issuing a special I3 UPDATE edition analysing European innovation policies and their contribution to national competitiveness.
This Web version is posted at http://www.skyrme.com/updates/u23.htm, where previous editions can also be found. Archived ENTOVATION International News can be found at http://www.entovation.com.
I3 UPDATE is also available by email. See the administrative information page.
David J. Skyrme
David J. Skyrme
Information systems, in particular groupware and Intranets, play a crucial
role in virtually all successful knowledge management initiatives. The IT
press extols knowledge management solutions. IT research organizations like
IDC, Forrester, Gartner, Giga publish regular briefings on knowledge
management, though naturally with a very technological slant. Delphi has
announced a Best Practice in Knowledge Management service. It will be interesting to see what they come up with, compared to our 1996-7 study, published in Creating the Knowledge-based Business. The IT community is clearly taking Knowledge Management seriously - but how will they best contribute?
Do CIOs Make Good CKOs?
Knowledge initiatives frequently emanate from the MIS function - CKOs
report to CIOs, or CIOs take up the KM mantle. At OXIIM (Oxford Institute
of Information Management) research colleagues (e.g. Earl, Edwards and
Feeny) have studied for several years what makes CIOs successful. They have
found, not unexpectedly, that the successful ones, or even survivors (the
average CIO survives four years in their position), need a good
understanding of the business, a good relationship with the CEO and a good
dose of social skills. CKOs, according to recent research by Michael Earl
and Ian Scott (see Snippets), confirm that CKOs fall into two camps -
hardies and softies - those with and without technical backgrounds.
Whatever their background CKOs blend four roles - entrepreneur,
environmentalist (i.e. organizational sociology etc.), technologist and
consultant. Earl and Scott make an interesting point:
"Unlike many Chief Information Officers who are often (with good reason) preoccupied with job security, all the CKOs (including one whose job was
later terminated) expected, at the time we talked, to succeed as CKOs ...
they are characteristically buoyant, optimistic, confident and intrigued by
They added that the two recurring success factors were "continued support
of the CEO" and "slack" - the space and time (say 3-5 years) to get a
Clearly successful CKOs, like successful CIOs, are more than just
technologists. They have the leadership and ability to blend all the facets
of knowledge management into a coherent organizational strategy.
See also Do You Need a CKO?
Partners to the Business
The recently published paperback edition of Information Management: The
Organizational Dimension' ed. Earl (OUP) is a timely reminder that many
things we said 10 years ago about IS needing to align and partner closely
with the business remain as true today. Many IT projects fail to meet
expectations because they do not address human and organizational factors.
Likewise knowledge management will succeed or fail, based on similar
MIS functions must take positive steps, as many seem to be doing, to be a
true business partner in support of knowledge management initiatives and
strategies. Their major contributions to this partnership are:
- Joint decision making in setting the strategy, developing the
infrastructure and applications, and setting standards of service and user
- A focus on the I in IS - working in conjunction with information
- understand information requirements and flows
- A more iterative style of solutions development: replacing formal systems
development methods with rapid application development, experimentation and
- Emphasis on training and coaching: IT specialists guide users through the
new generation of knowledge tools and solutions.
The MIS/CIO Contribution
The most useful contributions that MIS can make to help the business are:
- Increasing business awareness of new opportunities created by technology
- bringing intothe organization new technologies for demonstration and
- Technology watch - monitoring external developments while internally
stimulating electronic conferences or communities of practice to discuss
new developments and user's experiences.
- Developing an architecture that supports knowledge activities - defining
basic standards in several layers from access to application, as well as
standard templates and taxonomies for content.
- Adding realism to user expectations - their experience and judgment
should help users get beyond the vendor hype and to clarify what is
practical and achievable.
- Helping users make synergistic connections - their central perspective
could help draw together disparate efforts that could benefit from
- Providing reliable levels of service - as companies get more network
dependent, and globally dispersed, reliable 24 hours access is essential
i.e. Intranets are 'mission critical'
Above all, MIS functions must stay close to the pulse of the business so
that their key issues, problems and opportunities are deeply understood.
Different This Time?
Past experience has not put MIS functions in a good light with developments
in end-user computing. Their heritage in centralized transaction systems
meant that many were slow to respond, first to PCs and then the Internet.
Many were stridently dismissive! Can we be sure that they have now taken on
board these lessons? The surest way to gain business and user confidence is
that they themselves become models of exemplary KM practice.
Practice What You Preach - Knowledge Management for MIS
If you are an MIS function do you hold knowledge bases of the various IT
and end-user skills around the organization? Do you conduct post project
reviews and create lessons learned data bases? Do you have organized
databases that hold information on new solutions? Are these augmented by
discussion lists or computer conferences? Do you run knowledge sharing
events with users? Do you log users requests, ideas and problems in an idea
bank? These are just a few practices that indicate that MIS is taking
knowledge management seriously as a business tools, rather than just
another technology toy.
Debra M. Amidon, ENTOVATION International
From 17-21 July, over 1,000 executives, representing more than 30 countries
converged on Caracas, Venezuela, to participate in HR GLOBAL 98 - the
biannual meeting of the World Federation of Personnel Management
Hosted by ENTOVATION colleague Alejandro Fernandez, Vice President for
Human Resources, PDVSA, the world congress featured several presentations
focused upon intellectual capital and knowledge management: Competencia y
Capital Intelectual (Jac Fitz-enz); "De la Revolucion Industriala la
Revolucion del Conocimiento" (Luigi Valdes) and Medicion del Capital
Intelectual (Leif Edinsson, Skandia).
Edvinsson - who wrote the Foreword for 'Innovation Strategy for the
Knowledge Economy: The Ken Awakening', and has his own book (co-authored
with Michael Malone) on Intellectual Captial - aligned the leadership
agenda for human resource professionals. He described 'enterprising' versus
'the enterprise' and affirmed he would rather be "roughly right than
precisely wrong". He challenged the audience: How are you as human resource
professionals contributing to the value creation of the company? What is
the Intellectual Capital (IC) leadership in your organization? What have
you done to create awareness in your organization? Simply stated, are you
making the best utilization of your human resources? Using his now infamous
visualization techniques, he suggested that others take heed: "Use large
images and strong colors if you want to influence mangers over the age of 25!"
With an opening remarks, the organization leaders set the stage for three
days of exploration of paths to be taken in the near future given the
nature of global uncertainty. "What was stable yesterday is moving today
and the work of human assets has become a capital responsibility." What
followed were 61 presentations from 71 countries including plenary
addresses by Jaques Attali, (former advisor to the Secretary General of the
United Nations and to the President of the French Republic), Luis E. Giusti
(President of Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A.) and Dee Hock (Founder of the
Chaordic Alliance and Emeritus president of Visa International).
Attili in outlining the "Winners and Losers in a New Political Order of the
21st Century", described mistakes, quasi-certainties and contradictions.
The Internet, he suggests is the evolution of a 'new continent' and it is
destined to be a huge engine for economic growth. He projects huge
increases in market economies with various countries, such as China,
increasing their global reach. Education will enter the market economy with
several schools and universities becoming more like companies with students
as clients. There will be an expansion of democracy, facilitated by
worldwide communications; and there will be a fundamental transformation of
the nature of work:
"We are all nomads, nothing will be stable... focus upon understanding the needs and cultures of one another. Intuition and knowledge of how to use the future provides our capacity to make distinctions between the short and the long-term."
Guisti, speaking on behalf of the corporate leadership, outlined what it
takes for effective management of global organizations. He contrasted the
40-year history of industrial experience in Latin America (i.e.,
dependence, bureaucracy, subsidies, etc.) with what is needed in today's
global economy (i.e., dynamic, understanding of the external environment,
long-term decisions, flattened organization structures, openness to foreign
investments, focus on value-added, and more):
"Only a global attitude can provide solutions to companies and
countries 'Globalization goes beyond the colonial view of multi-nationals' We
have opened our doors for others to compete; and now, we must go into other
He suggested that years ago, to be large was best; but in today's market,
there are many small dynamic companies participating.
A new magazine, HR World, was featured at the congress. The edition
includes a column Knowledge Networks - with an article "In the Know" by
Tom Lester (UK). Citing several case examples (e.g., BP. Ericsson, Shell,
ABB, and consulting firms), he illustrates the multiple ways companies are
approaching the knowledge opportunity.
"In fact, it is misleading to treat knowledge management as a single, discrete discipline. In the philosophical sense knowledge may be universal
but, in the management context, it has to be related to a particular
business or function."
Under the leadership of Professors Cesar Corrales Riveros
(email@example.com) and Luis Enrique Malpartida Carpena
(firstname.lastname@example.org), the Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru hosted
the II Congreso International Ingenieria Industrial June 13-16, 1998 in
Lima, Peru. Modeled after a similar design used annually by Dr. Antonio
Holgado in Santiago, Chile, this congress brought together experts from
Israel, the US, Germany, Chile, Columbia, France and more. Situated in the
Museo de la Nacion and the displays of the Aztec history, experts explored
the implications of modern management and information technology and a
vision for the third millennium. In opening remarks, Manuel A. Olcese
Franzero, Universidad Decano, outlined the challenge:
"Today's realities were yesterday's fantasies;
today's fantasies are tomorrow's realities.
Man is the center and the measure of everything.
By improving our knowledge, we are improving the lives of everyone.
We must improve our ability to interact -
find new friends and reaffirm old relationships.
The world will not stop; we must share with others.
These are the voices to which we must listen."
Agnes Franco Temple, Vice-Ministra de Industria, continued:
"The new economy requires new answers to the old questions. These answers require a cultural change of entrepreneurialism. These transformations will change the discussion from competitiveness in the short-term toward what systems might be necessary to administer the inevitable growing complexity. Visualization will create conditions for innovation. The greatest
competitive advantage of a nation is its people and the capacity to create,
innovate, cooperate and serve. We must use internets and wide access to
technology to enrich our national knowledge."
Final remarks were provided by Luis Ramos, University Vice President.
Citing the founding of the University 81 years ago, he outlined the
original mission was to serve the country and work for the development of
"We are at a threshold; innovative technology has moved to the forefront of the tasks of education. Education is more than perception, creation and
innovative skills. It is an on-going learning process new solutions to
old problems. We must develop the capacity to renew and adapt to changes.
It is imperative that we link the capacity to create and innovate with the
development of our nation. We are destined for more profound discussion and
For five days, participants experienced a variety of lectures, panel
discussions and tutorials. For example, Robert Swigart (email@example.com),
Institute for the Future (USA), described the changing business landscape,
a framework for organizational models - especially fishnets. Dr. Ezey
Dar-El (firstname.lastname@example.org), from Technion University (Israel) provide
the historical perspective of the productivity movement leading to
synchronized manufacturing buffers - the foundation for modern innovation
systems. There were numerous presentations which featured the use of
internets and intranets. For example, Tom Vassos, Senior IBM consultant and
author of Creating a Strategic Internet Plan, summarized the 30 stages from
internet exploitation to strategic transformation. He suggested "This is
not a 1M mass market; but rather 1M markets for which you can create 1:1
This forum provided an opportunity for many experts within Latin America to
share their insights, such as Maria Angela Campelo de Melo (Brazil), Jose
Alvarez Madrid and Juan Carlos Saez (Chile), Carlos Colunga and Armando
Campillo (Mexico), Ricardo Montero (Cuba), Marcos Erize (Argentina) et al.
Jose M. Gassalla Dapena of Euroforum (Spain), outlined his residential
program and Antonio Hidalgo from the University of Madrid (Spain) was
participating in anticipation of his own Congress in August.
This is evidence of the international connections being made as the
community of knowledge practice continues to gain momentum. In addition,
ENTOVATION colleagues Hilda Hurtado de Montoya (email@example.com),
Jose Caceres and Phillippe Le Roux (firstname.lastname@example.org) are working to bring
the knowledge agenda for broad application in Peru.
Marcos Luis Bruno and Elizabeth M. Beran are the principals of Instituto
Pieron de Psicologia Aplicada in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Established 38 years
ago, the Institute most recently featured Dr. Eliott Jaques, Tavistock
Institute, Brunel University (London, UK), with a seminar Cognicao e
Complexidade. The Institute produces a combination summary of key messages
from recent events and outline of future programs. Contact
email@example.com for more details.
WWW: ENTOVATION International
David J. Skyrme
Features like 'Boom to Bust' (Time 14 Sept), 'Global Crisis: Time To Act'
(Business Week 14 Sept) tell how economic setbacks are rippling around the
world. In the North of England, both Fujistu and Siemens have announced
semiconductor plant closures, blamed on a world glut and competition from
the Far East. Both were supposed to herald the shift from dependency on old
industries to the new. Policitians are particularly disappointed about
Fujitsu, since it plant was state-of-the-art when it opened only seven
years ago. Even once successful US companies are not immune. Time cites
Harnischweger's sales to Pacifim Rim countries collapse to nothing from
$600 million a year, causing its stock price to drop by two thirds and
leading to 3,100 redundancies, a fifth of the workforce.
Complex Systems - Inadequate Understanding
The economy is in the middle of a major structural adjustments, where the
old economy rubs shoulders with the new, where national economies have yet
to come to terms with globalization, and where politicians thrash
helplessly in the dark with outdated interventions. Thus, the only short
term policy instrument used in the UK is interest rates. This hits
disproportionately at the manufacturing sector, whose current problems are
exacerbated by high exchange rates and borrowing costs, yet has not (at
least until very recently) dampened consumer demand. Stock price changes
are to some extent detached from the real economy - though not for the
minority who need to cash in their stocks and shares at a given time. The
complex nature of our economic systems means that money markets, equity
markets, options markets and normal trading markets operate as different
subsystems with their own time loops and dynamics. They interact only at
those places and times where a 'good' in one system is exchanged for one in
another. Our understanding is limited by our current understanding of
complex interacting systems, that range from economic systems to weather
systems, though the high profile of speakers lined up for a conference on
managing complexity shows growing interest in this subject (see Events).
Considering investment in semiconductor fabrication plants as 'jobs for the
future' reveals politicians' ignorance of the changing economy. Fabrication
jobs are still mostly an investment in the industrial economy, not in
knowledge-based wealth creating jobs.
Global Knowledge Leadership
Taking the long view, many stock markets are still higher than they were a
year ago, and usually short term corrections fade into history. But are the
fundamentals in place for a return to sustained economic boom? In countries
whose economies are in turmoil, one cannot overlook the fact that most have
the latent resources needed to succeed in the new economy - knowledge and
talent. It never fails to impress me how the younger generation in these
countries demonstrate a thirst for knowledge, and are enthusiastic and
energetic. Commenting to an ENTOVATION Colleague in Asia, Debra Amidon writes:
"I believe that many countries in Asia are precisely suited for the
knowledge economy. Knowledge development is not necessarily in software; it
is within the minds of humans - their intuition, intellect, and
imagination. The problem is that it is primarily tacit and doesn't become
explicit for others to share. This is why we must create the infrastructure
within which ideas are created and applied real-time."
However, as Time points out, too many countries at the moment have 'Lost
Leaders' - leaders out of touch with the populace, leaders who turn a blind
eye to corruption, and leaders (as in Malaysia), who try to ring fence
their country from the outside world. How can a country like Russia become
great again when many of its highly talented people resort to less skilled
jobs like driving taxis and labouring just to feed their families?
Policiticans and policy makers can learn much from successful corporate
knowledge initiatives. These bring together disaggregated knowledge, and
harness the potential of their people to generate new wealth creating
opportunities. Yet, elsewhere, as in a company workshop I ran yesterday for
an organization renowned for its quality of scientists and engineers, it
was quickly apparent that the attendees had unexploited talents,
underutilized capabilities, and are frustrated about the (management)
'systems' in their organization that stifle their ability and desire to
build a better future. In contrast, knowledge leaders have clear and
compelling visions, understand the role of knowledge in creating wealth and
motivate and empower their key knowledge workers.
That is the kind of knowledge leadership which we need in the global
economy, yet is in short supply. We know, as President Kennedy showed us
when America put men on the moon, that with an inspiring vision and
stretching goals, that what seems impossible is achievable with the right
talent and leadership. What we all need now is the global equivalent of the
1960s US space programme. But where are the policy makers that have the
global knowledge leadership to inspire us all to make it happen?
The Academy of Management (AOM) 1998 Meeting
San Diego, California, August 7-12
Report by Mohi Ahmed
The city of San Diego provided a perfect infrastructure for this conference
program of 2,112 papers and 192 symposia. In 'What Matters Most in
Technology and Innovation Research' leading scholar Professor Andrew H. Ven
de Ven (U. of Minnesota) indicated seven areas of transition including
Artifacts to Design Knowledge Embedded in Artifacts, Life Cycle to
Evolutionary Views, and perspectives that are shifting from Regional to
Global. Dorothy Leonard (Harvard U.) saw Knowledge Management as becoming
an integral part of research in the fields of Organizational Behavior,
Strategy, Technology and Innovation Management, and Management of
In 'What's Important in Knowledge Management', Professor Ikujiro Nonaka
presented his concept of 'Ba' that he defines as shared spaces. He
described four characteristics of Ba - Originating Ba (face-to-face);
Interacting Ba (pee-to-peer); Cyber Ba (group-to-group); and Exercising Ba
(on-the-site). He emphasized the concept is important for building a
foundation for knowledge creation. In the session Spanning Knowledge
Boundaries in Managing Technology: Professor Jane M. Howell (U. of Western
Ontario) presented results from research on Champions of Product Innovation:
- Champions emerge from different hierarchical levels of organizations
- Championship may be a constellation of behaviors that can be nurtured and
Attending the AOM conference, I have gained a clear impression about the
importance of a 'holistic' approach in management research, which I believe
is essential to develop any effective solutions in today's complex global
business environment. More than ever, we need to study issues with a global
perspectives and third-culture standpoint. In my own my current research,
"Inter-organizational R&D Collaboration", I am trying to apply a 'Holistic'
approach through case research methods. In this research, I am proposing a
new concept, "Champions of Collaboration" - individuals who foster
inter-organizational collaboration and contribute to collaborative
innovation. These champions will create, exploit, and sustain the global
infrastructure for sustainable innovation in the 21st Century. Any
questions and comments on my current research are very welcome.
Mohi Ahmed, PhD Program, School of Communication, Simon Fraser University
13-16 September 1998. 51st ESOMAR Congress, Berlin: "The Power Of
14 September - 3 October 1998. Collaborate '98: A Virtual
Conference on Virtual Teams.
25 September 1998. Knowledge Creation and Transfer: The Second Annual UC
Berkeley Forum on Knowledge and the Firm, Berkeley, California. IMIO.
29 September 1998. Innovation Strategy for the Knowledge Economy, Paris.
Seminar by Debra M. Amidon.
13-15 October 1998. KM Expo '98, Chicago.
13-14 October 1998. Knowledge Management. Munich. Auf Deutsch und Englisch.
Tel: +49 89 74 11 7270
22-23 October 1998. Third Annual Symposium on Knowledge Management
"Lessons from the Leading Edge", Williamsburg, Virginia. AQPC. Info at
25-27 October 1998 'Capitalizing on Knowledge', Chantilly, VA. Knowledge
Incs. Annual Strategic Forum.
25-30 October 1998. International Conference on Complex Systems, with
pre-conference event 'Complexitry and Managment' 22-25 Oct, Boston.
28-30 October 1998. Corporate Innovation Management Conference, Amsterdam.
Includes exhibition of solutions from Intranet and KM suppliers. First
4-5 November, 1998. Measuring and Valuing Intellectual Capital, New York.
Supported by The International Accounting Standards Committee (IASC). Debra
Amidon is speaking on The Economics of Intangible Value. World Trade
Tel: +44 171 613 7500 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
5-6 November 1998. Knowledge Summit 98, London. Closing session will be
David Skyrme on The Future of Knowledge Management. Business Intlleigence.
2-9 November, 1998. Fourth European Telework Week. Events across Europe.
For other telework events visit the events calendar at European Telework
16-18 November 1998, Amsterdam. Knowledge Management for Chemicals '98.
8-10 December, 1998. Knowledge Management Conference/Data Warehouse
Summit, Phoenix, AZ. DCI.
For other telework events visit the events calendar at European Telework
'Knowledge Management: Practices for Innovation - An Audit Tool', Rod Coombs, Richard Hull and Malcom Peltu, CRIC Working Paper, University of Manchester. (ISN 1 84952 005 1)
'What on Earth is CKO', Michael Earl and Ian Scott, London Business School (in association with IBM).
The NetAcademy on Knowledge Media, University of St Gallen, Switzerland.
© Copyright, 1998. David Skyrme Associates Limited and Authors - All rights reserved.
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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
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