posted 1 Mar 2011 in Volume 14 Issue 5
Ankur Makhija reports key themes from the fifth annual KM summit held in the knowledge capital of
The paradigm of a knowledge-based economy is not neoteric to
In the past year, the Indian economy has boomed, with GDP growth likely to increase by 10 per cent year on year in the second half of 2011 – possibly outstripping
The venue for the two-day KM summit was
The first session pivoted on three core topics: return on investment, change management and strategic leadership. Ved Prakash, CKO at Wipro Technologies, talked about how the measurement process at the organisation has evolved from activity measures to outcome measures. And, more recently, from effectiveness surveys to advanced correlation studies. Ved also talked about a balanced scorecard-based KM dashboard to compare performance across business units. He later explained how Wipro leverages KM for multiple objectives including faster on-boarding of projects, improving productivity and quality, quicker access to the right mentors and value networks, innovation and indirectly supporting higher degrees of employee motivation.
Sandhya Shekhar, CEO at
The pre-lunch session on KM strategy and leadership was led by J.K. Suresh, AVP and principal knowledge manager at Infosys Technologies The presentation effortlessly intertwined history, philosophy and science. He seemed almost prophetic when he asserted that the next orbit of KM will come from understanding the nature of experience through a Leibnitzian lens. He discussed culture as a unifying metaphor critical for KM and highlighted that organisations need to understand human facets of KM and the inter-disciplinary aspects of knowledge. On the subject of measurement, JK made an incisive point that the challenge with KM metrics is proving causality rather than mere correlation.
Conversations and networks
The highlight of the second half of day one was a presentation on the past, present and future of knowledge by San Francisco-based KM veteran Verna Allee. She talked about how the social media prism is altering conversations. Verna explained how Intel mentored employees in better conversation and dialogue – and as a result brought out one of their chips a year ahead of schedule. Verna’s clear thinking and wisdom shined through statements such as: “The most basic knowledge process is also the most ignored – conversation.” On the subject of networks, Verna recommended the 2004 book The Hidden Power of Social Networks: Understanding How Work Really Gets Done in Organizations’ by Robert Cross.
Day one closed with the Most Admired Knowledge Enterprises (MAKE)
Show me the KM
Day two of the summit started with an address by Dr Prajapati Trivedi from the cabinet secretariat of the Government of India. The presentation was erudite and humorous, outlining the government’s performance management plan. I respect civil servants (my father was one for almost 30 years) and the delegates were enthralled by the speech, but I couldn’t find any real KM in this 45-minute session.
Ron Young followed with exploration of the four dimensions of KM. The highlight of his talk was his observations on the single most critical skill of the 21st century – effective personal KM.
William Miller, co-founder, Values Centered Innovation Enablement Services, then spoke about KM and innovation enablement as a single, integrated work process. William discussed intellectual capital as a function of knowledge, innovation and human values. He then deliberated on the five kinds of intellectual capital (by juxtaposing the knowledge and innovation components of each): renewal capital, process capital, human capital, leadership capital and stakeholder capital. He concluded his talk by tying together the four-fold goals of life as explained in the Vedas (ancient scriptures of Hindu teachings) with the five intellectual capitals. Dharma (harmony with creation) correlates to stakeholder capital. Arta (prosperity in health, education, finances) corresponds to renewal and process capital.
Up next was Rajashree Natarajan, vice president, KM, Cognizant. She started her presentation by highlighting some of the most pressing KM challenges at Cognizant including delivery silos, disjointed communication between global teams and documentation overload. She then went on to present a brilliant Zen duality diagram of knowledge that essentially encompassed structured and unstructured information and how duality is in essence reality in the 21st century enterprise. According to Rajashree, knowledge creation is a distributed function for large and small corporations alike ? and it should remain that way. She emphasised the importance of context as she explained that what may be data to you today may be knowledge tomorrow – and hence, context is crucial.
Ankur Makhija heads the KM practice at eClerx Services. He can be contacted at ankur.makhija@eClerx.com