posted 2 Oct 2003 in Volume 7 Issue 2
Country focus: The Philippines
Sandra Higgison talks to Nilo Poso about the evolution of knowledge management in the Philippines.
In October 2002 the Knowledge Management Association of the Philippines (KMAP) was founded by Serafin Talisayon and Nilo Poso. The association is dedicated to the advocacy and practice of knowledge management for the purpose of attaining competitive edge for the Philippines. Poso is also CEO and chief software architect of Infostructure, an e-HR and e-enterprise software company, and he holds a Masters degree in technology management from the University of the Philippines in Diliman. With such a mix of academic, professional and practical experience, Poso can offer a first-hand and educated view of knowledge management’s development in his country.
Poso believes the history of KM in the Philippines can be traced back to Talisayon's course on knowledge management, which he taught at the Technology Management Centre, University of the Philippines. "Talisayon also evangelised about KM in his weekly column, 'Knowledge and People', in Business World, one of the country's leading business papers. The column is now published by KMAP and has been renamed 'Ken'," says Poso. Other KM courses started up at around the same time at other academic institutions, such as the University of the Philippines at Los Baños. Here the course is taught by Alexander Flor, who was also KM officer of the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organisation’s Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture. Business schools also followed by offering KM courses at De La Salle University, Ateneo de Manila University and the Asian Institute of Management.
Some government sectors have also started their own KM units or programmes, including the House of Representatives, Office of the President and the City Development Strategies Executive Association – an association of the 41 city mayors. In addition, the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP) has created some of its own KM-practice offerings with help from KMAP.
Within the business sector, Poso points to Meralco, the country's power-distribution monopoly, as being an early adopter. "Meralco has introduced a novel way of making its engineers share critical tacit knowledge," he says. "Using its portal as a hub and providing rewards to the authors of best-practice write-ups and articles with the highest number of hits, the company has ensured an efficient flow of technical knowledge among its engineers." He also cites First Holdings, which had its KM officer identify and establish the value of its critical knowledge assets using a homegrown method.
The World Bank is also playing a part in developing knowledge management across the Philippines.
In a speech earlier this year, Robert Vance Pulley, country director at the World Bank Philippines, said, "We believe our work in bringing knowledge and information to developing countries can be seen as catalytic as the capital and investments that we provide as an engine for development. In the Philippines, creating, sharing and applying knowledge has always been an important part of the Bank's programme to help the country promote growth with equity and empower the poor." The bank is working on a number of activities that aim to leverage knowledge. One example is the creation of distance-learning centres across the country, with video-conferencing training technology giving local policymakers and practitioners real-time access to a global network of peers and experts.
Despite these developments, Poso notes that the overall take up of KM has been slow. "Knowledge management in not yet a popular buzzword here. But since it's a new paradigm the majority of organisations are still grappling with the relevant concepts and practice methodologies," he says. But this could soon change, he says, as executive seminars, courses and lectures in KM are becoming more widespread, not only from KMAP but also institutions like the DAP.
The country's working culture will also help the rise of KM. "Filipinos' adaptability is likely to help with the spread of knowledge management," says Poso. "However, the prevailing political and economic upheavals have sapped a lot of energy that could have been channelled to KM efforts." On a more positive note, he suggests that the current situation is part of a knowledge-management cycle that could raise the Philippine society in general to a higher level of maturity and civility.
The future of KM in the Philippines will also be discussed at KMAP's first national congress in November. After the event, the association will pursue key projects to help push KM by working with academic bodies to strengthen their respective KM centres of excellence and put up professional chairs in major state universities. "I would say that KM is one of the Philippines's remaining cards that will help extricate it from the quagmire it has put itself into," he says. "Associations and groups such as KMAP will be pivotal in advocating KM and driving the transformation of the country into a knowledge society." Even though the discipline is in its infancy, Poso believes that the development of KM within the Philippines will be aided by the multi-disciplinary and collaborative nature that exists between the academic, government and private sectors.