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by Jay Fienberg

KMWorld: Creating Knowledge-Based Organisations

posted: Oct 16, 2003 1:10:57 AM

I am at the KMWorld conference in Santa Clara.

This presentation is called "Creating Knowledge-Based Organisations: Learnings from KM Practices in the IT Sector", and the presenter is Dr. Madanmohan Rao, editor at, who is from Bangalore. He is also the editor of a book called "Leading with Knowledge". He contributes to a Pointer Institute blog on new media trends.

This is part of a track of presentations today looking at the "people side" of KM, e.g., collaboration, culture, etc.

OK, this guy talks really fast. I hope I will be able to link to his presentation online somewhere. I will try to note some highlights of the presentation.

His book has a lot of case studies. MAKE awards, benchmark: Most Admired Knowledge Enterprises. Eight criteria for judging success, info on the MAKE website.

Based on these eight criteria, top companies are awarded. Some companies have won the award consistently over the last five years. Many of those are IT companies (e.g., IBM, Xerox, Microsoft, HP, EDS, . . .). What is it that makes these companies good at KM.

He has his "8 C's" of KM Success. Connectivity, Content, Community, Culture, Capacity, Cooperation, Commerce, Capital.

His book is in story format, where the CKO's (Chief Knowledge Officer) of each company talk about what works for them, and what mistakes.

EDS example: innovators to innovators community of practice. Very successful innovators became EDS Fellows. Call the whole cycle the innovation network engine, and idea2reality.

Annual innovation forum, bring people together from around the world. Legal angle: getting patents. Annual awards for most innovation.

Fujitsu example: Knowledge Underground, also called the Macroscope. Early development was before KM was popular. KM Hotline where people could call and ask about KM.

Workshops, competency centers. Knowledge taxonomies. How to keep up with fields changing very quickly was very important. Metadata scheme, good tools for this.

Global vs local balance. Manage innovation between different centers. Wireless is very important. See it as part of next big wave of productivity, etc.

Early challenge: KM dis-enlightment, too much content, not enough standard interfaces, no easy way to manipulate it. Got past it, got back on track.

Example: Hughes Software Systems. Certification of process (SEI-CMM). 14% of revenue into R & D and eLearning. Also focus on CRM, procurement.

Being part of industry consortia, and getting external research.

Example: Infosys. Created knowledge management maturity model. Metrics to measure how well they are working with information. Stickiness was an issue, so added cricket scores to intranet to get more participation.

Have knowledge currency units. People offer suggestions, but too many. So, you get points for good knowledge asset, as people like things, you get more points, if it really turns into something good, you get even more points. Helped make sure that ideas were usable.

Have annual knowledge summit with KM experts. Big challenge is security of client data. Version control and security mechanism behind systems is integral. Needed legal proof of non-disclosure.

A lot of this stuff is published on

Example: Mitre. Information Infrastructure, Innovation team. KM Achievement and Recognition Awards. Risk assessment program. Internal school.

They use Social Network analysis to find out who speaks to who most in an organization. Use surveys. Dynamic community tracking by monitoring emails. Knowledge mining of email.

Example: Novell. Mergers with Silverstream and Cambridge Technology Partners. Culture clash. Creating new communties of practice to deal with mergers. Creating synergy. Need to be very flexible, nimble, proactive.

Example: Oracle. Shift to e-business. Project libraries, support services. Created portal. Dealing with barriers due to global cultural differences. Harmonizing KM initiatives. Standardize on English languages.

Example: SAS. Lowest turnover rate, good at keeping people in company. Open culture, caring culture. Free M&Ms in the coffee room help people talk with each other. Lots of subject matter experts how were bad at writing.

Created team of knowledge support offices, people with good interviewing and writing skills. Talk with experts and publish good papers.

Internal marketing. Integrated KM in corporate communications to get KM message throughout organization.

Example: Sun Philippines (SunPhil, Manila). Paper culture up to 1996, then bought by Sun. Had to convert everything to digital in one year. Manila is SMS wireless capital of the world. 40 messages a day average. So, mobile very important. (Mentioning Smart Mobs, by Howard Rheingold!)

One of first Sun offices in the world to push KM and workflow into mobile.

Example: Xerox. On the job learning. People-centered focus. Customer service, sales, etc.

Example: Siemens. Not in his book, but there is a whole book on Siemens KM case studies. How to convert KM experts expertise into eLearning so people can take courses on KM. Part of Qualification and Training department.

He is now talking about key common elements that make a lot of difference. Change management; content editors: learning history; academics: literature review, contexts, degrees; learning / instruction specialists: creating scenarios, instructional design; innovation: orchestrated serendipity; wireless; CKO, CLO (Chief Learning Officer).

Knowledge Roles (titles): boundary spanners, roamers, outposts, knowledge project managers, stewards, coaches, trainers, councilors, counsellors, officers, integrators, administrators, engineers, librarians, synthesizers, reporters, editors, champions, evangelists, CKOs, directors of intellectual assets, VPs of intellectual capital, CIOs, learning officers, anecdote manager!

Listing books with KM case studies that he thinks are good (I think they are all his books!).

He has a big list of KM tool genres people are looking at, e.g. p2p, search, etc.

KM: impacts and metrics. People confuse various metrics or use on partial metrics. Technology (portal, emails, documents), process (better CRM, easier search, fewer steps, BI), knowledge (innovation, better brainstorming, more patents), people (empowerment, satisfaction, less churn), and business metrics (cost cutting, more share of market / customer, royalties).

Some Q & A.

Global vs. local. Future books, he will do one on pharmaceuticals a few books down the line. Right now, looking at tools and many are used in pharma sector.

Question on KM technology selection. KM asset map of documents. Depends on office network structure (LAN vs web). Best practices databases vs personalization and online communication approaches. Documents, process, and culture.

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