Inside Knowledge Magazine /Knowledge Management Magazine Archive
Volume 7 Issue 5
There’s no debating that the concepts behind knowledge management and the value of intangible assets have been accepted across global markets. It became patently clear to this editor when she found herself sitting on a remote beach on the Caribbean coast of Colombia discussing KM principles and her favourite knowledge gurus with a fellow beach bum. On reflection, I shouldn’t have been surprised; as regularly profiled in Knowledge Management’s Country Focus articles, firms in developing countries are making considerable headway with KM while governments pursue action plans to keep the momentum going. To help you keep abreast of such KM developments around the world, we bring you a revamped Country Focus on page 30. Our new resources section aims to give you a taster of the main government initiatives, consultancies and academic institutions active in each region. This month’s peripatetic feature visits South Africa and uncovers some of the unique cultural issues that KM is addressing and resolving.
February’s special focus examines one of KM’s most popular subjects: communities of practice. As research and analysis of the market show, collaborative working is going from strength to strength as companies embrace the benefits and value of organisational networks. A recent Knowledge Management survey found that two-thirds of respondents have communities of practice in place, and cite enhanced innovation, collaboration and learning, and reduced levels of rework as key business drivers. Yet only 11 per cent of these companies can point to tangible success in realising these benefits. Our case studies from Caterpillar and ChevronTexaco offer two shining examples of companies that have integrated knowledge networks into their everyday working practices. Indeed, as Reed Stuedemann says, Caterpillar has found an ROI of 200 per cent for internally focused communities, and over 700 per cent for the external. You can’t get more tangible than that.
Hubert Saint-Onge graces our cover this month as we discover, on page 8, how his knowledge-management career has evolved. He also shares his views on how organisations must manage their communities of practice with rigour, and link them to strategy making. For a more detailed exploration of the value of communities of practice, pre-order your copy of Ark Group’s forthcoming report, Communities of Practice: Lessons from Leading Collaborative Enterprises at the pre-publication, special-offer price of £245. Contact Adam Scrimshire at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
I hope you enjoy February’s issue. If you have any feedback on our content, get in touch at email@example.com.
Pushing KM into top gear at Renault
Managing knowledge has been a priority at Renault since knowledge systems were first designed in the early 1980s. Jean-Marc David plots the evolution of KM projects at the automotive company and describes the how the foundations have been laid to roll out KM at the enterprise level.
A global firm in local markets
Effective knowledge management equates to genuine competitive advantage in the real-estate market. Christof Widmer describes how Jones Lang LaSalle, armed with its knowledge strategy, approaches the challenges of operating a global firm in local markets.
Rolls-Royce: Knowledge acquisition and modelling
As the power behind the recently retired Concorde, Rolls-Royce set about capturing the experiences gained by its engineers for future projects. Michael Moss describes the importance of knowledge capture to the company and how knowledge management as a whole is helping meet the challenges of the future.
ChevronTexaco: Fuelling operational excellence
Like many organisations, ChevronTexaco has had informal communities in place for a number of years. Taking the drive for improved health and safety as a starting point, Jeff Stemke explains how the company decided to develop a more formal approach to network development. He also outlines some of the success stories that have helped to justify the central role networks now have in the organisation's ongoing development and growth.
Collaboration and beyond
Caterpillar's Knowledge Network incorporates some 2,700 communities of practice and almost 40,000 users, many of whom work in partner organisations rather than in Caterpillar itself. Reed Stuedemann describes the evolution of a truly collaborative network, explaining just how the company is realising an ROI of over 700 per cent in some communities.
Book review: The Human Factor
Wilma Garvin reviews The Human Factor: Management Culture in a Changing World by Rolf Habbel.
Five minutes with
Ana Paula Aleixo
Jacquie Bran, project manager with the Knowledge Management events team, spoke to Ana Paula Aleixo, know-how and information officer at Linklaters, Lisbon, about her role in the development of a knowledge-management strategy within a magic circle law firm.
Your say: Developing strategic CoPs
As communities of practice continue to grow in popularity, companies are examining how they can be aligned to corporate goals. Sandra Higgison speaks to leading experts in the field to discover what steps must be taken and pitfalls avoided to achieve successful results.
The knowledge: Hubert Saint-Onge
Making organisations more successful in the face of emerging marketplace challenges is the charge taken up by Hubert Saint-Onge. By focusing on organisational learning techniques, he is keen to stress the links between collaborative working, capability building and strategy making. He talks to Sandra Higgison about the role of communities of practice in todays knowledge-driven economy.
Put it to the board: Verna Allee
Transparency is an important topic in todays management and leadership circles. The trend is fuelled by internet connectivity, the rise of civil-society networks and frustration with unethical business practices. Transparency refers to the increasing accessibility of information to stakeholders of organisations and institutions regarding matters that affect their interest. Every organisation has a web of stakeholders that extends beyond immediate customers and suppliers, or constituencies and vendors for government agencies. People who are affected by organisational practices are applying pressure on business leaders to reveal more about how they manage their business. Stakeholders might include customers, partners, suppliers, consumers, regulatory agencies, investment communities, advocacy groups, labour organisations, cities and regions.