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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
Readers' Replies:
   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
Managing Editor

Germany: Blossoming with the Knowledge Agenda

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 this change."

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 future.

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 s.fazekas@magnet.at and Manfred Bornemann bornem@kfunigraz.ac.at 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 the world.

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:

  1. It's not the technology, it's the social implications thereof - the human dimension.
  2. We can create and incentivize the environment to produce more knowledge and sharing.
  3. The focus on knowledge goes well beyond the enterprise in terms of economic policies and practices; it is a matter of establishing modern managerial standards.
  4. It is a function of balance and harmony; not either-or, win-lose scenarios.
  5. There may be some answers in collaboration.
  6. Developing nations are using the knowledge economy as one way to level the playing field.
  7. 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 - France)

  • "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 Singapore)

  • "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 - InterClass)

  • "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.

Most Admired Knowledge Enterprises (MAKESM)

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 sections were:

  • 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 knowledge-driven business."

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
Email: rlchase@easynet.co.uk
Teleos Web site: http://www.knowledgebusiness.com

Readers' Replies

Knowledge Era Enterprising
Charles Savage


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 era enterprising."

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.


(Email: Charles_Savage@compuserve.com)

MIT - Minds, Information, Technology
Touraj Nasseri


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 strategy ?

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 and employees.

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.


Touraj Nasseri President
TechnoVantage Inc.
Edmonton, AB Canada
Voice: + 1 780 430 8768
Fax: + 1 780 433 0050

(Email: nasseri@planet.eon.net

The Degree of Focus is What's New About KM
Robert Taylor


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 new KM'.

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.

Robert Taylor,
Knowledge Management, KPMG
+ 44 (0)171 311 8021
Email: robert.taylor@kpmg.co.uk

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!

Tacit and Implicit are NOT the same!
"Sri" Sridharan

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 graphic.

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.

Regards, Sri

Dr. N.S. "Sri" Sridharan
Intel Corp, Chandler AZ.

Email: sri.sridharan@intel.com

Knowledge Management Events

5-23 April. Knowledge Innovation: Operationalizing the Concepts, Debra Amidon. A three week virtual course sponsored by the Knowledge Ecology University.

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 Conferences.
Email: info@ark-group.com

27-28 May. Intangibles: Management, Measurement and Organization. 2nd Intangible Conference, New York City. Contact: Autherine Allison, Stern School of Business, New York University.
Email: aallison@stern.nyu.edu

© Copyright, 1999. 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 and knowledge innovation®

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