David Skyrme Associates


Cumulative Contents

How To






No. 11: June 1997


Virtual Teaming and Virtual Organizations - 25 Principles of Proven Practice
Kindred Spirits Across the Internet - Voices from Latin America
Knowledge Management and the European Union
The Emerging World Brain
Creating the Knowledge-Based Business
A Reader Replies - Ted Lumley on KM "Softies" and "Hardies"
Telework Update
Gaining the Knowledge - without information overload
Forthcoming Events and Book
Three New Briefings
(1. The Knowledge Economy 2. Knowledge Management 3. Internet Commerce)


Welcome to the June issue of I3 UPDATE, a free briefing analysing developments in the networked knowledge economy. In the sidebar you will find information on how to join a free email distribution list. We hope you enjoy this UPDATE, and welcome comments, contributions and feedback at david@skyrme.com.

David J. Skyrme
Managing Editor

Virtual Teaming and Virtual Organizations:
25 Principles of Proven Practice

David J. Skyrme

The part of our Web site that generates the most enquiries and interest is Insight No. 2 - The Virtual Corporation. Although only a short piece and based on material originally written in 1988, it is obviously a subject of topical interest and one that is causing people some difficulties. Enquiries I receive also show interesting individual and cultural contrasts. Without trying to over generalise, Americans seem to ask "what sort of legal agreement do you have", while those in Australia look for "mutually cooperative arrangements" (and can they pop in while they're passing through the UK!) and Europeans - well strangely silent (perhaps they just get on with it in a low key way?).

Why has the interest grown significantly over the last year or so? I have several theories:

  • The Internet - it enables virtual organizations to function efficiently (I know, I'm a member of several virtual teams and organizations); moreover, it has also allowed my writing to be more visible and for people to contact me (via email).

  • Companies need flexibility and access to the best talent, wherever it is; they enter strategic alliances and need access to experts; and if they can be effective through working virtually while avoiding the cost of relocation, they will. They will create multi-function, multi-location teams to assemble their best talent world-wide. Project teams will come and go, as needs dictate.

  • Talented individuals are more discerning. They can increasingly dictate where and how they will work. If they want to surf six months a year in California, and work the rest, they will. If they like the life style in Southern France or Tuscany and can still offer a good service, that's the life style they will not give up.

So a combination of technology advances - such as better networking, groupware and videoconferencing - and social trends - more individual choices, more flexible labour markets - make the growth of virtual teams, either within a single organization, between organizations, or between dispersed individuals more of a norm. In fact, a recent Financial Times article was titled "The Rise of the Virtual Corporation: The Question is not if, but how" (FT-IT 4th June 1997).

Common Sense but not Common Practice

So what determines the success of virtual teams. Much is common sense management, especially that of creating a new venture or new organization or going through organizational change. I recently met up in London with Norman Mushnick of The Bottom Line (from Southern California). We had previously met virtually. He was presenting at the European Business Process Reengineering (BPR) Conference. His message was straightforward - successful BPR projects and successful organizational transformation needs a set of basic organization principles and processes that also address human factors (sorry Norman if I've oversimplified, but this to me was the essence). It is about empowering, communicating, enthusing and listening. Like a lot of management: "common sense but not common practice".

It is these similar principles that need to be used in a virtual team or organization environment, even though a team may have less permanence and not be colocated (this covers both types of virtual team - virtual in space or time or both). I find I keep dusting off a set of principles that I developed while creating a self managed team that worked in a network while I was in Digital, and can find little that needs changing. In my Digital days, I worked as a member of a small team that worked from offices and homes in Boston, Geneva, and Reading (in England). Today, I work in several virtual teams. For example, I work on knowledge management projects with colleague Debra Mae Amidon of ENTOVATION International and I am a partner in European Telework Development which has seven partners in six countries and coworkers in over 30 locations.

So here are these principles, introduced by some working hypotheses. Originally there were 15 "principles of a networked organization", and certain things were taken as given in the kind of culture that operated at that time in my part of Digital. I have regrouped them, updated some of the language, and have added five 'prerequisite principles and five that related to "virtual working". So there are now 25 principles, but their essence remains unchanged since what I wrote in 1988. After all, what has changed in human nature and social groups in several millennia?

Working Hypotheses

1. Organizations today need a balance of the highly innovative and the tightly co-ordinated. The former needs a networked approach, the latter a structured approach (some bureaucracy). Many established organizations have too much of the latter and too little of the former.

2. More and more work will be knowledge work - processing information, not physical product. Where it is done is less important than how it is done, and how it is delivered to the client.

3. Knowledge does not exist in isolated compartments. Its capacity to grow is enhanced if expertise can be tapped from as wide an 'expert' base as possible - people with different perspectives, experiences, age, gender, knowledge and cultural traits. In other words, people worldwide provide the best base for enriching knowledge and creating worthwhile innovation.

4. Tasks and the interrelationships between various tasks are becoming more complex. Variety in the environment is increasing (partly aided by technology and communications). There is more choice. Simplistic solutions no longer office for many business and societal problems.

5. The role of managers is changing from a 'director' to a 'facilitator', 'coach', 'mentor', 'advisor' and indeed a peer in the exchange of knowledge and experience.

Additional explanations follows.

Knowledge Work

By its very nature knowledge work involves sensing many inputs, rearranging information and discovering or creating new knowledge. Generally the more creative the work, the greater numbers of inputs sensed and used. Management by walk-about and informal dialogue are ways of achieving this sensing. "Wandering and browsing around the (electronic) network" is another way that a knowledge worker does it. 'Networking' is the way of life for successful individuals. Real strides forward are often made in highly interactive group sessions where creative people bounce ideas around, and test against a variety of perspectives. (This means that virtual work needs good collaboration tools or need to meet face to face from time to time).

Division of Tasks (Labour)

Much of 20th century organization theory has been concerned with the organization of major activities into smaller more manageable tasks. Traditionally the output of one task group flows to another. As more knowledge work takes place, the sequencing of tasks is less clear cut. Therefore there is no clean hand-over to the next group in line.

Management Processes

Management is concerned with output that achieves results. For many traditional tasks the processes are concerned with the procedures for doing work. As work becomes more knowledge based the processes move towards creating environments for knowledge workers to develop their own working processes. Management processes then typically concentrate on goal setting, providing resources, providing 'settings', facilitating discourse, gaining commitment, human factors 'interventions', marketing the output and monitoring progress.

Principles for Networked Organization

From the above, and based on my experience of what works in practice we propose the following 25 principles for creating and maintaining innovative networked structures:

Prerequisites (Individual Attitudes and Behaviour)

1. Every individual must have a sense of self-value and must value every other team member for their contribution - these should become explicit and expressed as the team's 'core competencies'. Individual should learn from each other, from the results of their own actions, and from collective experience.

2. There must be a high level of trust - this may take time to build up. The starting point is to trust every other person until they abuse this trust.

3. Individuals must be mutually supportive; commitments made should be met - where circumstances prevent this, other team members must be informed as soon as possible.

4. Reciprocity must reign - give as much as you get, in terms of support, transfer of information and knowledge. Lack of reciprocity leads to unbalanced relationships and ultimately to hierarchy, withdrawal or team collapse.

5. Individual feelings must be recognized and expressed. Sharing these is a good way to start and end team meetings.

Teams and Teaming (Composition)

6. Teams are the organization units that create focus and allow work to proceed. Work in a team, and individually if you want to continue to develop your knowledge and success.

7. The most productive teams for knowledge work are small multi-disciplinary groups. e.g. 5-8 people with a variety of backgrounds and personality traits.

8. Teams of large numbers are not productive for knowledge work - they are assemblies, gatherings, committees which may be used to pass information (often ineffectively), motivate (or demotivate), provide a sense of importance. Their most valuable use is creating and maintaining a sense of belonging, cohesion and reinforcing values - and of course, networking opportunities (but many people who organize meetings, conferences and such gatherings do not provide enough 'white space' for this to happen effectively).

9. Every knowledge worker should belong to at least two separate teams. This helps the organization achieve cross functional co-operation; it helps the individuals gain a broader perspective.

10. An individual can have one several roles in the team. These roles can change and be exchanged (for example during holiday periods, to balance workloads, or to broaden individual experience). Distinguish the role from the person.

Team Norms and Relationships (Mission, Purpose and Culture)

11. Every team must have a purpose if it is to act as a team and not as a collection of individuals. Its must have its own vision, mission and goals which reinforce those of a higher level.

12. Every team should develop a strong set of cultural norms and values. Hence regular team meetings should take place. A set of working principles should be developed (print them on a laminated card!).

13. Each team should identify other teams carrying out related or dependent activities. It should draw a network diagram with:
- itself (and its mission) at the centre - an inner ring of teams (nodes) where interdependencies are high (formal relationships)
- an outer ring of collaborative teams (mostly info sharing)

Where possible major activity sequencing and interdependencies should be shown (who provides what to whom)

14. Individual members of teams should be encouraged to maintain their personal networks, even beyond the identifiable needs of the current project or team. Professional and external networks are particularly important.

15. Some 'slack' should be built into the network. A certain amount of duplication/overlap should not be viewed as bad. This slackness permits a higher quality of output, plus a resilience to cope with the unexpected.


16. Just as in electronic networks a set of protocols needs to be defined and agreed. These may be implicit (common standards set by cultural values or 'like minded people'). Often it needs to be made explicit what the various signals mean eg trial balloon, idea, request for action, demand, vote, decision etc.

MISCOMMUNICATION is probably the worst obstacle to effectiveness in any organization.

17. Frequent communication throughout the network (including outer ring) must be encouraged. This is particularly valuable for half-baked ideas, tentative positions. A small group developing its own 'final communique' does not foster the network spirit.

18. Also as in electronic communication NAK and 'NODE NOT RESPONDING' are important signals. If something has not registered, or some work is falling behind, then a signal to ripple round the network so the repercussions can be analysed.

19. Formal relationships (eg inner ring) are best cemented by having agreed written processes (hand-offs) and/or common members on both teams. Critical linkages need higher trust and openness rather than higher formality. In a sequenced set of tasks this can be provided by cascading teams (i.e. shared members)

20. Recognise the unpredictability and fuzziness of the process for making decisions. Who makes decision will often be ambiguous. An action taken might imply a decision taken. In general, decisions should be made when and where they need to be made, by whoever is appropriate. Be guided by the mission, values and principles.

Types of decision which are fundamental should be agreed up front, and simple formal processes developed for these only.

Technology and Working over a Distance

Enabling technology is the most effective means of enhancing the quality of network communication. Electronic mail, distribution lists, and groupware products such as Lotus Notes all contribute, but they must be used effectively. Here are some principles to apply in virtual team communications.

21. In your emails, select the TO and CC addresses appropriately. Use explicit titles - in particular avoid simple relies that generate Re: Re: titles when the subject matter has moved on. Be explicit in what action you want the reader to take - is it for information or action, or is a request for help? Similar principles apply to threads in a computer conference - use appropriate titles.

22. Use one email per topic, especially when multiple recipients with different roles and interests are involved. This allows each to be filed and actioned separately. Keep emails short - give some opening context, repeat portions of incoming mail selectively and close with requested actions (if any).

23. If a face-to-face conversation is important, capture the essence in a follow-up email. It also acts as a point of reference for the parties involved. It may throw up different interpretations of the same meeting, and highlight ambiguities that need to be resolved. It also acts as part of the 'team' memory.

24. Build on knowledge that exists or has been expressed. Recognise the contributions of others. Ideally appoint a knowledge editor who takes the best from transitory information and compile it into a more structured document or Web page.

25. Above all - be human and informal. Emails and discussion lists are conversations, and if you are not face to face, you need to insert a level of informality and smileys where appropriate :-)

Additional Comments

FLEXIBILITY is key. Recognise that team players change, tasks change. Hence any protocol, formal process should be simple and concise and adapted when needed. A few statements of principle are much better than binders of process manual.

SUCCESS AND FAILURE. There is no a priori evidence with today's travel and electronic network that a geographically dispersed network is any less effective than one based at a single location. On the contrary, there is some evidence that people put more effort into making remote linkages and communication work, because there is less opportunity to meet face to face. In my experience the biggest causes of failure are:

  • not having a compelling shared vision
  • not clearly identifying network participants and their respective roles
  • having team missions and goals incompatible with individual's aspirations
  • having dominant nodes (i.e. a competitive or pressure relationship rather than truly collaborative one)
  • not communicating sufficiently and clearly enough.

Examples of Practice/Further Reading

The above are just some principles I have tried to apply in my professional career. One of my current projects - European Telework Development (ETD) - is an example of a virtual organisation in action (see 'ETD as an example of Telecooperation' at http://www.eto.org.uk/faq/faqtc05.htm)

Perhaps the best material on virtual teams is that written over several years by Jessica Lipnack and Jeffrey Stamps. Their books include The Age of the Network, The TeamNet Factor, and recently published Virtual Teams, John Wiley & Sons (1997). Selected extracts and useful links on virtual teams will be found at their website - The Networking Insititute at http://www.netage.com

I welcome comments on these principles and what has worked for you.

Update (Aug 1999) - These principles were slightly updated and published in Chapter 12 of Web-Weaving, by Peter Lloyd and Paula Boyle, Butterworth-Heinemann (1998). More recently they form the core of Chapter 6: The Knowledge Team's Toolkit, in Knowledge Networking. This toolkit includes additional guidance and includes five principles on managing team knowledge.

David J. Skyrme email: david@skyrme.com

Kindred Spirits across the Internet:
Voices from Latin America

Debra M. Amidon

The ENTOVATION website (http://www.entovation.com) includes the 'Momentum of Knowledge Management' in several languages including Spanish. A year ago, it was discovered by some researchers at the Knowledge Systems Research Center, at ITESM, Monterrey, Mexico. Dr. Javier Carillo, Center Director, invited me to provide a seminar for his staff and students. What resulted is a profile of ITESM in the new research report - Creating the Knowledge-Based Business - published this month by Business Intelligence (see below). He will also be featured in the forthcoming Knowledge Management 97 (KM97) in December (London).

Several months ago, another Internet surfer, Jamie Ritchie from Banco Santiago, discovered the website and referred me as a speaker for the XX Taller Ingeniera de Sistems - "Gestion y Tecnolgia para America Latina" which was held in Santiago, Chile, June 9-13, 1997. Dr. Antonio Holgado, President of the Conference and Patricio Meller, Director of the Department of Industrial Engineering, Universidad de Chile, hosted some 2000+ guests, 57 of which were presenters from outside the country, for a week long investigation of the managerial and technical aspects of the new economy.

In one session led by Dr. Carlos Vignolo, Professor Investigador, provided a lecture on "The Zen of Innovation Management" which had been the working title of 'Innovation Strategy for the Knowledge Economy: The Ken Awakening' and the course provided by ENTOVATION colleagues. What international serendipity! Moreover, upon subsequent discussion, it became clear that the framework used by Rob van der Spek for the European Knowledge Union meeting in Utrecht (see below) can easily be adapted for Latin America.

Furthermore, another tutorial was led by was led by Chauncey Bell, Senior Vice President of Business Design Associates. the company of Fernando Flores - expert on the network of conversations and world known Chilean, who was also featured in The Ken Awakening. The Program was seeded with several case studies who are experimenting with BDA techniques. Most of the comprehensive studies on Knowledge Management have reviewed companies from North America and Europe.

We anticipate future visibility from Latin American, including a new magazine from the government - "Correo de la INNOVACION." They are seeking stories from other countries and ways to share their examples of good practice with others around the world. [Contact Joel Munoz Berrios - cambio@reuna.cl - for further information and free copies.]

Thanks to our Chilean colleagues, the Knowledge Innovation® Litmus Test is now available on the ENTOVATION website in Spanish.

Look forward to some symbiotic networking in the near future!

Debra M. Amidon
email: debra@entovation.com

Knowledge Management and the European Union:

Utrecht, The Netherlands, May 12-14th

This event was organized by the Kenniscentrum CIBIT and was commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and supported by the European Commission.

Some 60 invited participants, from a variety of backgrounds, attended this event. Overall the event was a mixture of presentations and workshops. There was also a Web based Scenario Construction Site where participants debated topics such as Knowledge Debates and Global Futures Scenarios.

The focus was learning and knowledge within member states of the European Union. Topics covered included corporate learning centres, learning within and between small and medium enterprises and the role of education and training. What are the characteristics of a knowledge society and what implications does this have for educational systems?

Some of the key conclusions developed at the workshop were:

  • Knowledge and learning is now on the management agenda in many companies. It is a strategic issue.

  • Educational institutions and businesses are becoming more intertwined in many areas. Corporate universities and learning centres are on the rise in Europe. Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and UK provide examples.

  • The notion that universities generate knowledge that is transferred to business is challenged. Knowledge generated within SMEs can be of use to faculty in universities. Knowledge is created when people from different backgrounds collaborate together in communities of practice.

  • Although information and communications technology is crucial, it is human interaction and communications that are the key to successful collaboration.

  • Since knowledge depreciate quickly, learning to learn is increasingly important

  • Organisations will focus more on intangibles in the future and tools for the measurement of intellectual capital are being developed.

For further information - see the EU Seminar section of the Knowledge Management Network web site at http://kmn.cibit.hvu.nl/eu-seminar (Update 1999 - this page has now been removed).

The Emerging World Brain

A Workshop at the University of Calgary, 14th June 1997.

Last weekend, a group of international thinkers (great minds?) assembled at Calgary to discuss the development of a World Brain/World Mind. With knowledge collaboration taking place on an ever widening scale that ever before, and the use of the Internet to share and develop knowledge globally, such a concept is not as far fetched as you might at first think. It is also not new. Eminent thinkers from H.G.Wells to Vannevar Bush have put forward such notions in the 1930s and 1940s. But they did not have the technology. We do. But their thinking was nevertheless good and stimulates us today.

When the great minds got together at Calgary, this is what they discussed:

  • What the World Brain/Mind is
  • How the current world brain needs to be beneficial for all mankind
  • What needs to be done to forestall the development of an undesirable organism
  • How groups can work together to foster the development of the former.

Jan Wyllie of Trend Monitor International outlined his analysis of the World Mind at the meeting. He contrasted "World Brainers" who see knowledge as evolving from a non-human information substrate, and "World Minders" who believe that a uniquely human transformation process must take place for information to become knowledge. Both agree however, that information is the source of knowledge.

He described how content analysis techniques were used to develop Network Views for the RSA Tomorrow's Company Network. The structured information was used to stimulate inputs to create a level of meta-cognition among participants (incidentally this was not done using groupware, but using paper). The results can be viewed at http://www.trendmonitor.com. His current content analysis of 'Constructing a World Mind' blends visual mind maps (that appeal to a right brain orientation) with structured information hierarchies (that appeal to left-brain). Again, the construct provides a focus around which synthesised information can be used to stimulate human discussion that in turn takes the synthesis to higher levels of knowledge.

Watch out for more on the developments of the World Mind in a future edition of I3 UPDATE.

Further Information: Jan Wyllie. email: jan@trendmonitor.com

Creating the Knowledge-based Business:
Key Lessons from an International Study of Best Practice

David J. Skyrme and Debra M. Amidon

This report, just published by Business Intelligence, describes:

  • The business case for knowledge management
  • Essential practical tools and techniques
  • Frameworks and processes for creating and sharing knowledge
  • How to create a knowledge culture
  • New measurement systems, challenges and concepts
  • The role of information technology


Chapter 1 - The Momentum of Knowledge Management
Drivers behind the knowledge management movement
- Why TQM and BPR are not enough
- The role of knowledge in corporate success
- Thought leadership: shapers of the knowledge agenda
- The foundations of knowledge management
- Knowledge management in practice

Chapter 2 - Knowledge Management in Practice
Surveys of knowledge management

- The latest Business Intelligence/Ernst and Young survey

Chapter 3 - Knowledge Leadership
Setting the direction and gaining commitment

- Do you need a CKO (Chief Knowledge Officer)?
- The role of the CEO
- Leadership at all levels
- Creating a knowledge management architecture
- Knowledge teams

Chapter 4 - The Measurement Gap
The baseline for improvement and adding value

- Why measure intangible assets?
- Information and knowledge as critical resources
- Limitations of traditional accounting
- New measures of success
- Identification of intangible assets
- From asset value to useage value
- Justifying investment in knowledge management

Chapter 5 - Value Adding Processes
Leveraging your knowledge potential

- Knowledge strategy and policy
- Managing the knowledge asset
- Knowledge-based business processes
- Knowledge Identification - the starting point
- Creating the knowledge base
- Using and diffusing knowledge
- Knowledge protection

Chapter 6 - Creating A Knowledge Enhancing Culture
Ways of improving knowledge creation and sharing

- New structures, new cultures
- The networked organization
- The politics of knowledge
- Levers of change
- Workspaces that work
- Connections, communications and conversations
- Supportive reward systems

Chapter 7 - Roles and Skills for the Knowledge Age
- New roles: their recognition and development
- Skills for the knowledge-based company
- The shift to learning
- The Learning Organisation

Chapter 8 - The Technology Infrastructure
Facilitating Knowledge Sharing

- Knowledge based systems
- The first generation: what went wrong?
- Knowledge discovery tools
- Knowledge mapping and related tools
- Collaborative Technologies
- Groupware and Intranets
- Videoconferencing

Chapter 9 - An Agenda for Action
- Opportunities and Challenges
- State-of-theory vs. state-of-practice
- Lessons from the leaders
- Critical Success Factors

- Bibliography/Notes
- Glossary
- Consultancy Profiles
- Case summary

The report includes ten full case studies and 20 caselets. Each chapter has a summary and central chapters have 'best practice guidelines' synthesised from the experience of knowledge leaders.

"I have greatly enjoyed reading your report on knowledge management, one of the hottest issues of our decade. Your report combines the advantages of high level introduction, with a lot of detail on benefits, the value proposition behind knowledge management, and the technology implementation. There is a lot of material pulled together in this report from a variety of sources - especially useful if you need to sell the benefits of knowledge management to the board members of your company"

Dr. Marcus Speh, Senior Advisor for Corporate IT, Shell International.

pp. 510
ISBN 1 898085 27 7
Price: 595 pounds Sterling (495 introductory offer)
Available from: David Skyrme Associates.

A Reader Replies:
Comment on KM "Softies" and "Hardies"

Ted Lumley

Robert Taylor's appeal for KM "softies" to work together with "hardies" raises some interesting imagery in my mind. While the following comment employs the same personified terms; i.e. "hardies" and "softies", it seems to me that this type of "reification" of a perspective is itself a characteristic of the "hardie" perspective. It might be better to leave these two perspectives simply as two perspectives. We all have the ability and choice to look at the world as a world of either explicit things or implicit relationships; sometimes its convenient to do it one way, sometimes, the other.

Firstly, business has overemphasized the "linear-causal" or explicit aspects of business to the point that there is much concern over the health of the intangibles. We read about the problem of divergence between corporate and social purpose, about the decline of mentoring (a self-organizing teaching-learning culture) and the rise of the quick fix mentality, the growth of "warrior dynasties" in place of the legacy-building strain of former times. All of these trends appear to reflect "runaway feedback" as explicit measurement and reward cycles become shorter and stronger. The "hardies" are to the "softies" numerically (we're talking perspectives, right?), as the United States is to Andorra.

Secondly, "tacit" and "explicit" knowledge, in new science terms, are like opposite ends of a dipole; they are at the same time complementary and antagonistic. Complexity models associate the explicit with linear, equilibrium subsystems and the implicit or "tacit" with nonlinear aperiodic system features. The implicit is the weave of spatially coherent relationships which binds the explicit into the whole. In this type of model, it is only possible to speak of one system of knowledge containing two polarities linked by "phase".

If one starts from the viewpoint of the "softie", a relational view of things, one automatically accounts for the "whole" since relationships are defined in the context of linkages between explicit things. In the "softie" view, the intangibles which one focuses on are intangible relationships between "things", such as teaching/learning (which require a teacher and learner, input and output, old practices, new practices etc.), innovation (a new ordering of "things", possibly a new "value chain" with explicit new links) and so on. In the sciences of complexity, which address complex adaptive systems (learning organizations), one speaks of "autonomous co-evolution" and the fact that "the structure of the organization is a record of the know-how" (Stuart Kauffman). It is clear that these concepts deal with the organization and everyTHING within it.

Managing the intangibles, to paraphrase the mathematician Ian Stewart ("Does God Play Dice?") is to work on approximate solutions to the exact problem. Managing the tangibles, as has been our traditional business focus is, conversely, to work on exact solutions to the approximate problem. The "hardie" perspective is to look right through the intangibles as if they didn't exist and focus in on the disassembled parts.

So it is impossible to see these as peer approaches when one (the "softie" approach) considers the whole system (from the point of view of relationships, to be sure); while the other (the "hardie" approach) starts off by discarding or ignoring the vitals of how the explicit parts are, in reality, linked together. In other words, the "softie" approach employs a holistic view of the system in which the explicit components are a secondary focus. The "hardie" approach employs a partial and fragmented view of the system in which the relational information has been thrown away.

So when it comes to explicit or implicit KM, there is a clear choice here; do you want to consider the whole system and work your way through the intangibles to get to the explicit, or do you want to start by discarding system essentials, the ordering principles and linkages which account for the overall behavior of the system? As Professor Johan Roos said in a recent KM conference, it is important to understand the "whole knowledge challenge." and that means comprehending the different types of knowledge and their interplay.

What appears evident to me is that the bulk of those so-called KM initiatives which might be described as the "hardie" variety, are like AI has been in the past, a regression to starting off with a massive stripping down and gross simplification of the problem by ignoring the innate relational aspects and information.

There is no way to get to an understanding of "the whole knowledge challenge" when you start with a focus on the explicit and subsequently try to do a bottom-up reconstruction of the problem. So, explicit knowledge management or "the hardies" must be guided by a "softie" view of the problem. This is the imagery we need to speak of, rather than of two peer fields of KM.

Perhaps this was what was intended. Just checking.

Ted Lumley, May 1997
email: emlumley@OnRamp.NET

Telework Update

A quarterly newsletter European Telework Development News has started publication. It is incorporated as a section in the ETHOS Newsletter, a newsletter of development on European Telematics programmes. Links to various articles in the online version of the newsletter can be found at http://www.eto.org.uk/etd/news.

Features in the June edition are:

  • European Telework Development - stimulating new ways of working
  • ACTS: the European programme for Advanced Communications
  • Telework: prosperity and jobs - or exploitation and unemployment?
  • Telework Charter for Europe
  • Online Focus Groups at European Telework Online
  • How many teleworkers?
  • Electronic democracy: Internet and politics - a dialogue of the deaf?

Forthcoming Events:

  • Second International Workshop on Telework: 2 - 5 Sept 97 - Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • TELECOM Interactive '97: 8 - 14 Sept 97 - Geneva, Switzerland
  • 4th European Assembly on Telework: 24 - 26 Sept 97 - Stockholm, Sweden
  • European Telework Week: 3-10 November 1997

Gaining the Knowledge

Without the Information Overload

"Is Intellectual Capital the New Wealth ..... or the latest Consulting Wank?"
Cover of Forbes ASAP supplement on the topic

Already there is evidence of a backlash against some aspects of the knowledge movement, such as developing intangible measures. The Chief Finance Officer of Microsoft is one who makes the case against. As for consulting wank - well there are consultants and consultants. As Forbes reports, some 'big name' consultancies charge a million dollars or more for a fully fledged knowledge assignment. On the other hand, if you want knowledge and experience, which we would argue is as good in quality, at a fraction of that price, then you know who to call!

However, just to read the Forbes supplement plus the many other sources we have reviewed, will take you several days just to find the sources, read and analyse them. We can do it for you. We have refined information from many sources and analysed the key trends, and will bring our keynote analysis to you in a new briefing service that will shortly be launched by ENTOVATION International and David Skyrme Associates.

If you would like a preview of some of the material (which will be ready in mid-July), please email david@skyrme.com

Forthcoming Events - Knowledge Management

"Practical Knowledge Management Methods" - Tutorial/Workshop, 14 July

"Leveraging High Fee-Earners: Knowledge Management in Professional Service Firms" - Seminar 15th July

"Knowledge Management in Financial Services" - Seminar - 16th July

"Accelerated Value Method (AVM): A Consulting Approach to Knowledge Management" - Tutorial/Workshop 17th July

All by Unicom. See http://www.unicom.co.uk for information or Tel: +44 (0) 1895 256484

New Book

Intellectual Capital: Realizing Your Company's True Value by Finding Its Hidden Roots, Edvinsson, Leif; Malone, Michael S., Harper Business (June 1997)
Price: 15.99 sterling; US Dollars: 25 (list); 256pp; Cloth
Develops measures of intellectual capital. Puts more meat behind the Skandia Navigator and other methods.

New Briefings

Three new briefings have just been published at the Knowledge Connections website (David Skyrme Associates). They are the first Insights in our 2nd series:

(For the full list of Insights see http://www.skyrme.com/insights)

© Copyright, 1997. David Skyrme Associates Limited and Authors - All rights reserved.

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