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I3 UPDATE / ENTOVATION International News
No. 24: October 1998


Learning about Knowledge Management: On Course for the Future
A Large Scale Enterprise and KM: The Motorola Approach
Don't Downgrade the Message to the Europeans
Knowledge for Development - A New Report from The World Bank
Yet Another Magazine - Will It Sustain Its Quality?
Satisfied Surfers - and Our Plans for the Future


Welcome to this edition of I3 UPDATE / ENTOVATION International News, a free briefing analysing developments and key issues in the networked knowledge economy. This month looks at education - what needs to be done to propagate knowledge and skills of knowledge management, and what one particular organization, Motorola, is doing.

I3 UPDATE is also available by email. See the administrative information page.

David J. Skyrme
Managing Editor

Learning About Knowledge Management
On Course for the Future

David J. Skyrme

You know when something is more than a passing fad. Academic institutions start planning courses. Having seen several such plans for knowledge management, it does raise the question of the right way to learn about it. In truth, knowledge is a bit light-weight when it comes to an academic discipline. Unless you go deeply into philosophy or cognitive science, the theory, at least from a management perspective, trails the practice. Nevertheless, knowledge management is emerging as a distinct discipline that draws together themes from other subjects. So - who should learn about it, and how?

Everyone a Knowledge Manager

Virtually every professional today, whatever their discipline, is a knowledge worker. They collect information, assimilate knowledge, and learn through experience. But most do not manage information and knowledge as well as they should. They cannot quickly find information they already have, they are deluged in data but starved of knowledge, and do not convey their knowledge optimally to others for due reward. The education system through which most of us progressed, emphasized transfer of knowledge, much of which has a relatively short lifetime. What we were not taught, at least explicitly, was how to think, how to learn, how to organize information, how to encapsulate knowledge or transfer tacit knowledge. What we know has largely come through on the job learning or post-education training courses. Every knowledge worker needs a set of basic knowledge concepts and process skills - information management, facilitation etc. - that are only now being recognized as important and teachable.

Some More Than Others

The knowledge agenda requires that some individuals, such as those working in knowledge centres or in knowledge teams, need more specialist knowledge skills for new roles that are emerging, such as knowledge analysts, brokers and editors. Many emanate from information science and information management. Other roles, though, concern the transfer of tacit knowledge and rely on skills that are best learnt through practice.

Acquiring the Knowledge

There are several ways of acquiring essential knowledge and skills for knowledge management. Each has plusses and minusses:

  • Reading books. These give a quick ramp up on essentials. However, with knowledge management the flavour of the month, many books have been rushed out and are frankly far from helpful. Books can never, by themselves, give practical hands-on learning.

  • Seminars. These give a broad overview and practical examples, but usually lack a cohesive framework for integrating theory and practice.

  • A workshop or course. These are usually oriented around a practical framework, but may lack the theoretical background or have a very biassed or narrow view of knowledge management.

  • An academic course e.g. an MBA module on knowledge management. These usually balance theory and practice, but suffer from the teaching methods used. Full time courses mean that students lose touch with business reality. Case studies tend to focus on somebody elses situation and yesterday's business models.

  • From mentors and experts or through consultancy. This gives focussed learning around specific problems and issues, and transfer of other's experience. However, unless built into the relationship, the fundamental conceptual underpinning may be omitted.

Each of the above methods do have their place. You must be clear, however, as to the type of knowledge transferred, and what knowledge gaps remain. A common problem that I see is that the learner is not as actively involved as they should be. Just the other day, I was asked to quote for delivering a course, yet the potential client clearly wanted the cook book, me to do most of the talking, and have little interaction from the participants. I declined, since their learning would be minimal!


The approach of action-learning or action-research, perhaps in the context of a learning organization initiative, starts to draw together the threads of learning about knowledge management in an effective way. A common paraphrase of this approach is:

  • Learn Before Doing - what are we planning to do? Are there models, theoretical frameworks, proven experience on which we can base our actions?

  • Learn While Doing - continually recording progress e.g. in a learning diary, what worked and did not work - and why?

  • Learn After Doing - taking time to reflect on the lessons learned, perhaps using independent observers and facilitators.

This is the approach we adopt in our Knowledge Management in Practice Workshop (http://www.skyrme.com/services/kmpract.htm). The workshops, which can be customized, consist of a series of modules designed as learning cycles - theory, practice, review and discussion.

Another aspect of the action-learning approach is to take a real business situation that needs better knowledge management - perhaps customer service, or the new product development process - and have a task team or Community of Practice work through a plan of action. At each stage they are interacting with external experts - both academics and other practitioners - to apply theory and learn from practice (and possibly generate new models and theories). Learning of core concepts and techniques takes place while improving a current organizational situation.

In my experience, the world of academia, business and consultancy are too engrossed in their own narrow agendas, with their specific methods, and are failing to build the structure needed for developing vitally needed generic knowledge management competencies for the future. "Not true, not true" you may say. While it is true that some consultancies have multi-client learning forums, that some academic institutions share action-research programs with business colleagues, and that some businesses have active learning programmes (e.g. Motorola - see next article), these are the exceptions rather than the rule.

Some of the most progressive developments are coming from new centres and new forums that bring each party together in a common research and learning agenda. One such is the Knowledge Management Forum; another is the ENTOVATION Institute whose inaugural meeting will be held at Banff in Canada in November (more in a future I3 UPDATE).

Each of us - whether in academia, commercial or not-for-profit enterprises or consultancies - must come out of our traditional camps and give and take from each other. For example:

  • Academia - give research/learning rigour and academic accreditation to knowledge management research and learning initiatives. Gain access and expertise from practical situations.

  • Enterprises - give access to some tricky problems, give time to your employees to learn more about knowledge management. Gain richer insights into your own problems from the knowledge that exists beyond your firm.

  • Consultancies - give knowledge of your own experience in encapsulating and managing knowledge. Gain new knowledge on the application of knowledge management in different businesses.

While the detail of how this is done is not always clear, what is clear is that such collaborative ventures are needed if knowledge management skills are to improve beyond the levels that current trajectories indicated. Even if the parties come together in a common agenda there remains the challenge of sharing and valuing the intellectual equitably where the ground rules of IC economics are still being developed. Perhaps, though, that is one item on the common learning agenda.

Email: david@skyrme.com

A Large Scale Enterprise And Knowledge Management
The Motorola Approach

Debra M. Amidon

Our research shows that organizations of every size, industry and sector appear to be addressing the implications of the knowledge economy for them and their constituency. Every approach is unique; for, indeed, every company is unique.

In the last three years, there is been an explosion of Knowledge Management conferences - first in a generic sense (e.g., the Knowledge Advantage of Ernst & Young, the Knowledge Imperative Symposium of Arthur Andersen and APQC, KM 96/97 of Business Intelligence and more). Subsequent conferences focused on specific industries (e.g., the Oil & Gas Industry, Pharmaceuticals, etc). And now, we see emerging functional specific knowledge conferences, such as the ones scheduled in London for Chief Financial Officers (CFO's) and Chief Learning Officers (CLO's). Our prediction is that this is only the beginning...they barely touch the surface of what might be needed for true implementation within an organization. So, these forums are wonderful idea generators, opportunities for networking with kindred spirits, learning about best practices; but "a good idea does not an innovation make!"

And so, the real challenge, is how best to bring the knowledge into the company and integrate it with current practice, desired market positioning and emerging vision. For those of us who have been practitioners, we know that this is far more difficult than one might expect.

Motorola is an excellent example of one leading company with a history of a learning philosophy who has decided to bring the knowledge agenda in-house. With a series of 'Knowledge Collaboration' symposia, RS Moorthy (aahr15@email.mot.com), Director, Research and Strategic Capabilities, with expert assistance from Verna Allee, Integral Performance Group (http://www.vernaallee.com), and author of The Knowledge Evolution, has convened events for senior executives and are now manages an on-line dialogue with the assistance of George Por, Community Intelligence Lab (gpor@Co-I-L.com).

In a carefully designed seminar series for senior executives, the company has brought the best theorists and practitioners into Motorola for dialogue on the implications of the knowledge economy - both trends and practices - for the future of Motorola. The first symposium featured Leif Edvinsson (Skandia), Hubert Saint-Onge (The Mutual Group), Gordon Petrash (formerly Dow), and Bipin Junnarkar (Monsanto).

The second symposium (this August) opened with remarks from Pat Canavan, Senior Vice President for Global Leadership and Organizational Development. In referencing the size and history of the company, he noted how the lag time in transferring ideas (technology) from Europe to the United States. What might take only 7 hours within a small geographic region can expand to 7 days and even 7 years when crossing the Atlantic. In a dynamic, global economy, this can no longer be the case. The answer is in collaboration; but how does this effect the way business strategy is developed and implemented?!

Unlike most symposia where speakers have little time to develop their ideas, each speaker in the series is provided with a full half day. Material is geared toward actual examples and mechanisms for delivery in addition to the typical war stories. Accepting the mandate, the group outlined some of the specific challenges which needed to be addressed, such as partnership with customers, cross-organizational information, overcoming the NIH-syndrome (i.e. Not-Invented-Here), electronic communications and standards, cultural barriers (not technology per se) and more.

Debra M. Amidon outlined "Visualizing the Knowledge Economy: The State-of-the Art, the State-of-the-Practice and the State-of -the Future".

Groups were formed to create a radar chart of their innovation capability along ENTOVATION's ten dimensions of innovation strategy:


  2. Evaluate PERFORMANCE MEASURES which are both tangible and intangible.

  3. Leverage EDUCATION/DEVELOPMENT to incubate new businesses.

  4. Convert the worldwide presence into a DISTRIBUTED LEARNING NETWORK.

  5. Manage COMPETITIVE INTELLIGENCE with a wide radar scope.

  6. Create more new KNOWLEDGE PRODUCTS and SERVICES than the competition.

  7. Manage and learn from the plethora of STRATEGIC ALLIANCES.

  8. Maintain a MARKET IMAGE consistent with a focus on knowledge and innovation.

  9. Create a LEADERSHIP POSITION and LEVERAGE both internally and externally.

  10. Implement a COMPUTER/COMMUNICATION strategy which learns from internal and external dialogue.

Kent Greenes, Director of Knowledge Management for BP, outlined the evolution of the focus within the company, illustrating the use of technology, business case examples, and future directions. By posing some basic questions initially to the group (e.g. "What is your current stock price? What should it be? If we cut x% of our workforce, how might we work smarter to create value? What's the one thing keeping you from making progress?"), he set the stage for the business implications of a knowledge strategy.

By illustrating some of the learnings from their activities to-date, Greenes suggests the 4 things which have made a difference in their journey:

  • Admitting that KM is not a new initiative, not rocket science, and acknowledging that people have been doing it for some time.
  • Identifying the right CONDITIONS for KM to flourish.
  • Providing the right MEANS for managing knowledge via a robust KM framework.
  • Nurturing the right ACTIONS by lowering barriers to knowledge sharing behaviors.

"If you learn faster than your opponents,you are going to win every time" says Greenes. He described the value of the 're-use' of knowledge - building upon the knowledge already created, and ended with the heart of the opportunity - "contributing to the sustainable development around the world." In describing BP's learning curve, he identified 5 stages:

  1. Engagement Phase
  2. Applying Simple Tools Phase
  3. Capturing and leveraging Knowledge Phase
  4. Internalized learning Phase
  5. Breakthrough Phase

These notions are reinforced in an interview "Unleashing the Power of Learning" (Harvard Business Review (September/October 1997), with John Browne, BP's CEO. He provides the executive view of the knowledge imperative, answering several questions about the affect of the diffusion of knowledge on the competition, the critical kinds of learning, the notion of distinctive assets and distinctive relationships, learning networks of similar organizations, and how to create a culture of continuous innovation.

Chuck Sieloff, Manager (chuck_sieloff@hp.com), Corporate Information Systems, Hewlett Packard Company, provided an open analysis of the internal Corporate Leadership Forum Study. Why do large companies stall and how might one keep growth going? In an illuminating presentation, he contrasted that the factors which traditionally made HP successful in the past (i.e., local and informal) may not be what is needed for the future (i.e., global and formal). In describing the results of their cultural assessment, they realize:

  1. Knowledge is not well documented.
  2. While reusing knowledge is considered desirable, many people do not put much time into it.
  3. People believe that sharing is more valued than hoarding; they would like to share but do not have the time.
  4. Trust is a big factor on both sides of a knowledge-sharing transaction.
  5. The organization invests in development programs; but most knowledge is personal and most learning is individual.

Sieloff acknowledges that executives must step up to the KM challenge:

  • Don't wait for top-down sponsorship.
  • Link your efforts to the business problems and strategies rather than expecting people to rally under the KM banner.
  • Turn the KM 'community of interest' into a 'community of practice.'
  • KM problems are often the flip side of HP strengths (e.g. decentralization, product innovation and business focus).

Finally, George Por (gpor@mail.sportos.com), architect of the Knowledge Ecology University and expert on 'Communities of Practice' facilitated the dialogue on how Motorola could use the concept to deliver business results. Using the Community Development ArchitectureTM - Knowledge, Social, Business and Technology, he suggested the value proposition:

  • Process and product improvement, continuous innovation through developing and spreading practices better
  • Time savings, accelerating time-to-market and other business cycles, and letting the organization learn faster than its competitors.
  • Fostering cross-functional and cross-divisional collaboration, turning knowledge skills into knowledge-sharing networks
  • increasing the ability of your organization's members to initiate and contribute to projects across organizational boundaries.

He focused on the Knowledge Ecosystem:

  1. A network of conversations, face-to-face and electronic meetings, facilitated for results, richly hyperlinked with feeding, and fed by
  2. A knowledge center: a collection of shared project and team references, knowledge bases of both proven solutions and new approaches to what, who, why, how, where and when.

He contrasted KM and Knowledge Ecology. Knowledge Ecology adds context, synergy and an emphasis on culture. See comparison table at http://www.co-i-l.com/coil/knowledge-garden/dkescop/kmke.shtml

The final Symposium in the series is scheduled for late October and will feature Stephen Denning (The World Bank), Larry Prusak (IBM), Karl-Erik Sveiby (Sveiby Knowledge Management) and Bob Buckman (Buckman Laboratories).

By bringing the expertise in-house, the organization has optimized the dialogue among its executives and provided an opportunity to convert 'idea-to action' (i.e., the ENTOVATION definition of innovation) real-time. Because dynamics are moving at such a pace, companies cannot rely on external education programs alone to create and diffuse the awareness afforded by a knowledge economy. Internal leadership must be aggressive, progressive and systematic about implementing these concepts.

If companies are not large scale, they should consider linking with other smaller companies in their local area to create similar initiatives as a venture in 'collaborative learning.'

Email: debra@entovation.com
WWW: http://www.entovation.com

Don't Downgrade The Urgent Message To Europeans

Harry Collier responds to I3 UDPATE 'Innovation in Europe' Special Edition

"I enjoyed your 'European Innovation' issue (13 Update) and agree with most of what you say. However, a couple of caveats:

1. I know what you mean when you suggest that with innovation the emphasis may be better being shifted to collaboration rather than competition. However, I sense that ANYTHING that downgrades the urgent message to Europeans that they need to be competitive is highly unwise. Europeans often appear to believe that they can potter around managing things in their own back yard as they want, and in their own ways. Reality suggests, however, that if ever competitive instincts are relaxed, lean-mean Asians (industrial sector) and Americans will sweep in and take over. (I also speak as one who today has received a letter from Wessex Water saying it is now owned by a company in Texas).

We all compete -- for resources, for budgets, for attention -- and the day we stop scanning the environment in which we work and stop thinking of innovating, is the day we give up competing, and then our time is up. I think you would be wiser to say:

"Compete ferociously, also via collaboration" rather than "shift from the language of competitiveness to the practice of collaboration".

I made the same sort of point to a bemused CEC recently in a study contribution where "Europe's rich cultural and content heritage" was being lauded. Europe's rich cultural and content heritage is for sale in a competitive market. Seagram has just bought the Philips (Dutch), Polygram (German) and Decca (British) music recording heritage going back to the 1940s. And Disney has bought Winnie the Pooh (and is reputed to be after EMI with its music recording heritage going back to 1898). Aggressive competitors shall inherit the earth (Matthew 4, iv, revised).

2. All this intellectual property protection leaves me a bit cold. There is no evidence whatsoever that Europeans are deterred from innovation because of fears that their intellectual property will not be protected. European protection mechanisms are no more or less cumbersome than those of much of Asia and of the USA. The CEC is being nobbled by some loud voices over copyright and intellectual property but, like much of the heat generated by lobbyists, there really is no evidence that intellectual property laws, or lack thereof, stop people being innovative. In addition, as you rightly include in your Update, this also tends to shift the topic and emphasis towards mad inventions (manufacturing) rather than innovative services or financing. I admire the innovative competitiveness of much of the American hotel industry (compared with much of the European, for example).

Anyway, keep up the good work!



Email: hcollier@infonortics.com

Knowledge For Development

World Development Report 1998 from The World Bank

Just published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The World Bank, the World Development Report 1998 is titled Knowledge for Development:

"Because knowledge matters, acquiring how people and societies acquire and use knowledge - and why they sometimes fail to do so - is essential to improving people's lives, especially the lives of the poorest among us".

The report provides a good societal view, though there is naturally a bias to an economic perspective. A useful background document 'What is Knowledge Management?' (principle author Stephen Denning with contributions and advice from a number of world experts including ENTOVATION founder Debra Amidon) also gives insights into the World Bank's own knowledge management programme:

"aimed at making the Bank a clearing-house for knowledge about development not only a corporate memory of best practices, but also a collector and disseminator of the best development knowledge from outside organizations."

This report is well worth a read to broaden your knowledge perspectives.

WWW: http://www.worldbank.org

Yet Another Magazine: Will It Sustain Its Quality?

Knowledge Management Magazine. Launched to coincide with COMDEX, this new magazine from CurtCo Freedom Group has a good mix of features including Knowledge Collaboration, The Cost of Lost Knowledge (with a good example of lost drawings of NASA's Saturn rocket), and Knowledge Management at Pillsbury. Sections include The Knowledge (Roots, Drivers, Lenses and Future), 'Levers and Pulleys' (the technology bit), and Working Knowledge. Like all new magazines, it will be interesting to see if the publishers can successfully rise to the challenge of making the second edition match the quality of this first excellent issue.

WWW: http://www.kmmag.com

Update (August 1999) - I'm pleased to report that the quality has been upheld and I, for one, am a subscriber and avid reader - Ed

Satisfied Surfers: and Our Plans for the Future

We continue to get many positive comments about our Web sites (http://www.skyrme.com and http://www.entovation.com) which are used extensively by students, researchers, business executives and many, many consultants! Although we try and reply to every email individually, unfortunately we do not have the resources to act as research supervisors, librarians or consultants, except on a fee paying basis. We believe that our best contribution to sharing our knowledge, at least in explicit form, will be to keep improving the content and navigation of our interconnected sites. One of these days (soon!) we will:

a. Revamp the colour schemes (the problem is that whatever colour one person likes, another does not - we could go back to plain black on white - what do you think?)

b. Do some knowledge editing - categorizing the information - after all, 25 I3 UPDATES and 16 Management Insight briefings, not to mention the various tools such as the Litmus test all add up to several full books!

c. Extensively update the KM resources page, add a KM Tools Page and list of Case Studies.

However, what we will not do is add Java, frames, lots of images and other gimmicks that detract from the overall content.

Update - Both web sites were completely redesigned and updated during Fall 1999.

In the meantime, you might like to follow the tracks of a practitioner from a food company in Mexico:

"I have surfed your web site (http://www.entovation.com) and have printed out a number of things to study. The chart below (Contrast of Management Styles, published as Exhibit 6 in Collaborative Innovation and the Knowledge Economy, CMA (orderdesk@cma-canada.org) and simplified at http://www.entovation.com/backgrnd/art.htm) and the R&D chart (http://www.entovation.com/backgrnd/fifthgen.htm) at the site are most interesting. Thank you for posting them!"


13-15 October. KM Expo '98, Chicago.

16-17 October. Complementary Currencies and Creating New Waves, Portsmouth. Survive the global economic meltdown: "a portfolio of best practice worldwide and future options in local and complementary currencies.

22-23 October. Third Annual Symposium on Knowledge Management "Lessons from the Leading Edge", Williamsburg, Virginia. APQC.

25-30 October. International Conference on Complex Systems, with pre-conference event 'Complexity and Management' 22-25 Oct, Boston.

25-28 October. "Capitalizing on Knowledge", Chantilly, Virginia. Billed as a "prestigious, annual strategic forum with powerhouse keynote speakers", Knowledge Inc.
Email: quantera@aol.com and http://www.knowledgeinc.com

28-30 October. Corporate Innovation Management Conference, Amsterdam. Includes exhibition of solutions from Intranet and KM suppliers. First Conferences.

2-9 November. Fourth European Telework Week. Events across Europe.

(For other telework events visit the events calendar at European Telework Online http://www.eto.org.uk)

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 Conferences.
Tel: +44 171 613 7500 or Email: andrew@worldtradeconf.com

5-6 November. Knowledge Summit 98, London. Closing session will be David Skyrme on The Future of Knowledge Management. Business Intelligence.

9-10 November. Using Intranets for Effective Knowledge Management. San Francisco. IQPC.
Email: info@iqpc.com

16-18 November. Knowledge Management for Chemicals '98, Amsterdam. including Interactive Workshops. First Conferences.
Email: shabnam@firstconf.com

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 Conferences.
Email: info@ark-group.com

8-10 December, 1998. Knowledge Management Conference/Data Warehouse Summit, Phoenix, AZ. DCI.

© 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 or distribution lists and that it is not done for commercial gain or part 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: info@skyrme.com    debra@entovation.com
Web: http://www.skyrme.com    http://www.entovation.com

® Knowledge Innovation is a registered trade mark of ENTOVATION International.