Inside Knowledge Magazine /Knowledge Management Magazine Archive
Volume 8 Issue 1
There is a creeping fear that recession will soon rear its ugly head and there are already signs that the world’s big economies, including those of America, Japan and China, are starting to suffer. The debate that surrounds the culpability of rising oil prices for the perceived slowdown has in turn prompted some to question whether knowledge really is as powerful and as important a commodity as we have come to believe.
Optimistic economy watchers are convinced that oil prices no longer matter, at least not as much as they did in the mid-1970s. They point out that developed economies use only half as much oil as they did three decades ago and believe that knowledge and the power of technology are fuel enough for the modern economy. Counteracting this outlook, some are blaming the oil crisis for the arrest of consumer spending in the US this year. The American passion for the open road is guzzling dollars that could be spent elsewhere, maintain the pessimists; phrases such as ‘intellectual capital’ and ‘knowledge economy’ sound somewhat hollow in a world economy that obviously still relies on traditional, tangible commodities to function effectively.
While we are a long way from escaping our dependence on physical resources, there is no question that knowledge remains central to long-term organisational success in today’s economy. In this issue for instance, Jerry Ash, consulting editor and US correspondent, begins his new regular column by emphasising the importance of knowledge to consumer behaviour. Organisations need to recognise that shoppers are now likely to research before they purchase and are determined to get the best from their cash. What is more, the long-awaited September 11th commission report has condemned US intelligence agencies’ inadequate approach to knowledge-sharing (see ‘news update’ on page 7). A lack of collaboration made the 9/11 attacks all the easier, says the report, which cites collaborative intelligence as key to combating terror.
Tangible and intangible assets go hand in hand and a knowledge-aware outlook is essential to overcoming potential economic crises such as the current oil predicament. The message is a crude but simple one: belie the importance of knowledge at your peril.
Managing change for the better (WWF International)
The role of technology in KM is a contentious subject, but intranet development can promote a knowledge-sharing culture if approached with the user in mind. Giulio Quaggiotto, former knowledge manager at WWF International, guides us through a step-by-step change-management approach used at the organisation and offers tips on structuring technology without deconstructing personal motivation.
Defenders of knowledge (Defence Science and Technology Laboratory)
For the UK governments Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, research and information-gathering facilities are critical to developing defence innovations. Steve Thornton explains the role of knowledge agents in the creation and preservation of a knowledge-sharing culture within the organisation.
A natural KM narrative (English Nature)
In its efforts to develop a collaborative culture, English Nature was determined to steer away from technological applications to address its needs. Ron Donaldson shares his experience of applying techniques of narrative and complexity to encourage knowledge sharing at the organisation.
Searching for a global solution (Cabot Corporation)
For global corporations, reconciling cultural and language variations is essential to ensure strategic advantage. Jean-Paul Lambermont-Ford shares his experiences of implementing an innovative multi-lingual taxonomy at Cabot Corporation, which allowed employees world-wide to share knowledge regardless of location.
Put it to the board: Dan Holtshouse
The connection between the office and work is becoming indistinct. Work can currently be associated with a location (such as an office), a connection (online work from home) or with ones attention (for instance, penning a customer proposal while sitting in Starbucks sipping a latté). Armed with an array of mobile tools, todays knowledge workers have a multitude of options.
Book review: Squirrel Inc. A Fable of Leadership through Storytelling
Jan Wyllie reviews Squirrel Inc. A Fable of Leadership through Storytelling by Stephen Denning
Knowledgeworks: A new order
In any organisation, creativity and innovation are essential to the growth of the workforce. However, the individuals who embody this growth are often undervalued. Jerry Ash considers the obstacles to cultural change and presents his vision of a new order that aims to empower workers, open communication channels and help organisations keep pace with KM.
Your say: KM seeks perfect S&R partner...
In the current KM climate, the role of technology is a contentious issue and is still widely debated by leading KM pioneers. Many feel that technology negatively impacts knowledge-sharing initiatives. Rebecca Cavalôt investigates areas where search and retrieval technology is failing organisations and discovers the secrets to a successful alliance.
The knowledge: Richard Cross
Best known for his work at Xerox, Richard Crosss name is synonymous with pioneering total-quality-management initiatives a discipline many believe was a starting point for KM. Having taken the plunge into independent consulting, Cross talks to Rebecca Cavalôt about the Xerox years; how networking is influencing his current work at InnovationX; and his passion for the personal in knowledge management.