Inside Knowledge Magazine /Knowledge Management Magazine Archive
Volume 8 Issue 8
This month’s cover story details what can confidently be described as the most comprehensive and far-reaching knowledge-management initiative ever attempted anywhere in the world. Indeed, Inside Knowledge correspondent Jerry Ash uses precisely these words to introduce his overview of a programme that incorporates, in one way or another, an astonishing two million people. First championed in 1998 by a four-star admiral, KM has since become a fundamental aspect of the way the US Department of the Navy (DON) operates. In fact, the entire Department of Defense (DOD) is now equally committed to the concept, to the point that ‘knowledge dominance’ and ‘information superiority’ have become guiding factors in the DOD’s continued evolution. From the highest to the lowest ranks, from the corridors of
Of course, it is doubtful that KM would have had the impact it has without the sustained commitment and unwavering passion of the figures at its helm. In this sense, the DON story is no different from those unfolding in organisations of every type and size all over the world: the success of any knowledge-management project depends on passion; on the profound belief that KM is not only worthwhile, it is in fact a way of living. Alex Bennet, a central figure in the ongoing success of the DON initiative, is a firm believer in this notion. Indeed, Bennet has written a doctoral thesis on the subject, in which she recounts numerous interviews with KM practitioners and thought leaders who have all come to the same conclusion. Fortunately, the principles that KM encompasses excite in people an unprecedented level of energy and drive. If the DON story tells us anything, it is that passion and dedication to the cause can go an awfully long way.
Elsewhere in these pages, and continuing the military theme, you will find a case study from the US Defence Ammunition Center (DAC) (page 20) detailing how past experiences have been captured and stored, and used to help current employees literally move mountains (of ammunition, that is). The DAC seems to have cracked a recurrent problem facing KM practitioners: how to create a knowledge repository that people will actually be able to use, rather than a jumbled mess of lessons learnt that are too well buried to be of any real use. If this sounds like a familiar lament, don’t panic. Help is at hand in this month’s masterclass (page 28), in which Chris Collison and Geoff Parcell draw on their experiences at BP to explain how to go about capturing knowledge in a way that will enable you to create rich and engaging content that won’t simply gather dust on the virtual shelf. See you next month.
Case study: Bharti
The Indian telecoms industry is particularly complex. It includes a large number of service providers, not enough trained manpower to handle telecoms operations, local and regional variations and an ever-changing regulatory environment. This presents several challenges that providers need to address at various levels. In 2001, the business issue that dominated senior-executive thinking at Bharti was providing consistency in customer experience across all locations. Knowledge management was identified as a means of facilitating this.
Case study: DAC
Imagine: you are standing in the desert after the successful completion of the most intense combat operations in recent history. The combat troops are leaving as quickly as the transportation is available to take them home. Departing soldiers, trucks and combat vehicles leave behind mountains of unused ammunition. You are charged with the responsibility of categorising, packaging and shipping this ammunition...
The art of war
Seven years ago, the US Department of the Navy launched an ambitious and pioneering knowledge-management programme that would encompass more than two million people. In large part owing to the dedication and passion of those at the vanguard of the initiative, KM has since become an intrinsic part of the way the organisation operates, and knowledge itself the most potent weapon in the navys arsenal...
The knowledge: Madelyn Blair
Working with stories is a skill Madelyn Blair has developed throughout her career, and one that looks set to bring huge changes to global organisations, not least the United Nations. Inside Knowledge gets the inside story on her current work and aspirations...
KnowledgeWorks: First, overcome ourselves
Why KM practitioners should look to overcome their self-imposed siege mentality. By Jerry Ash.
Masterclass: Capturing knowledge
Though many organisations have processes in place to identify and record lessons learnt, most such knowledge assets tend to end up on a physical or virtual shelf gathering dust. But, by following a few straightforward guidelines, those charged with capturing knowledge will be able to create rich and engaging content that will only grow in value to the enterprise as a whole. By Chris Collison & Geoff Parcell
Trend tracker: Microsoft and Groove Networks
Microsofts acquisition of Groove Networks in March was not a big surprise Microsoft has been a major investor in the company since 2001. Microsofts collaboration offering should be bolstered by the acquisition, as the company has struggled to pull together a coherent approach across its multiple technology offerings in this space.
Knowledge advisory centre: The knowledge economy is a reality
People are no longer asking if intellectual capital is important; rather, they are asking how we might harness the intellectual capital of our companies, nations and society as a whole. Answers are surfacing, and at least now we are asking some of the right questions...
Thought leader: The lost art of strategic KM
All strategies are knowledge strategies in the sense that your strategy is the product of a series of conscious or unconscious knowledge-based choices. I was working at a senior level in a business where every year more money was being pumped into product development and yet the number of products getting to market was static. Reviewing the data within a variant of the Porter competitive advantage matrix (based on price and product differentiation) was leading us into the second-best trap of minor differentiation, because low risk had become the name of the game.