posted 3 Nov 2003 in Volume 7 Issue 3
Five minutes with…
Jacquie Bran, project manager with the Knowledge Management events spent five minutes talking to Joris De Boulle, director of organisational learning at Fortis Human Resources. De Boulle discusses how knowledge management has been addressed throughout the Fortis group.
When and why did you start addressing knowledge management and why?
Fortis was created in 1990 and has grown through M&As. In 1996 the function group management-development team was established through executive education programmes in co-operation with leading business schools. These sessions revealed that ‘learning from each other’ was a high priority for the company.
This was the driver that started the ‘accelerated learning for Fortis advantage’ (Alfa) sessions. Alfa is the learning architecture in place at group level. Business teams from the different companies in the group are invited to discuss one of the corporations strategic priorities. During the session knowledge and good practices are shared, and new knowledge, in terms of business solutions, is created.
During the Fortis World Conference in 1998 the session on sharing good practice received the highest evaluation marks by participants. This offered a stimulus to start sharing knowledge at different levels, between companies and functional areas. Knowledge-integration activities also began to take place.
It is important to note is that these initiatives are not labelled as ‘knowledge management’. There is some reluctance to adopt this terminology and we prefer to label it differently to avoid any potential barriers.
Within the various business lines a range of ‘metier schools’ have been established. They focus on metier (strategy) relevant skills, and sharing good practice and solutions for new requirements. Virtual knowledge systems are also available at a group level and at a company/business-line level. Virtual communities of practice exist in some parts of the organisation.
Did knowledge management develop organically?
Even though knowledge management is not a term used by the company, we do have practices and systems in place. Consequently this whole area has developed organically.
What are your specific challenges in relation to fragmentation and how will they be overcome?
Given the development path we have described, it will be important for us to connect the different areas where knowledge-related activities are taking place. A platform for sharing our lessons learnt, obstacles and opportunities is also a priority.
Joris De Boulle is director organisational learning. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org