KM Blog February to May 2009





Saturday, April 25, 2009

Boiling frogs, or is the world restructuring around Knowledge

I have been unable to blog this past few weeks, as I have been totally preoccupied with updating my KM 2009 seminar and workshop materials.

During the KM seminar update,I once again considered the annual report from the World Bank Institute 'Measuring Knowledge in the World's Economies'. The report considers, for each country, the application of knowledge, as manifested in entrepreneurship and innovation, research and development, and software and product design, as one of the key sources of growth in the global economy. It also states that many developing countries fail to tap the vast stock of global knowledge and apply it to their needs, but they can build their strengths and can capitalize on the knowledge revolution.

Countries such as Finland, Korea, Ireland, Malaysia, Singapore, Chile and more recently, China and India illustrate the rapid progress that can be made.

Then I started thinking again, more deeply, about the way that work around the world is increasingly being organized far more around the knowledge, as an end in itself, and not just the product or service provided.

For example, General Motors do not employ people any more, directly, to manufacture a single car. They employ people to develop and apply GMs 'knowledge' about design, marketing, manufacturing, distribution, service etc. The manufacturing is outsourced and the profits are to be made in applying their knowledge. Shell International tell the same story. Once they said their core business was oil exploration, oil refining and distribution. Now they tell us that they have the best 'knowledge' of oil exploration, refining and distribution and are organizing themselves around the value that this knowledge provides. Airbus Industries have said that they can make more money licensing their knowledge on aerospace to China, for example, than actually building aircraft.

It didn't take long for Accounting Firms to realize the higher value and profitability in offering financial and management consulting services through effective knowledge management.

Banks are far more interested today in high value added knowledge financial services than making money to keep your money safe (that is - unscrupulous traders and dealing, and lack of applying knowledgeable regulatory best practice, aside).

It seems very clear, and very obvious to me that the world's major industries and institutions have all realized that there is more money to be made from restructuring around the highest knowledge available (the best recipe)and outsourcing the lower value core activities elsewhere.

I am so reminded of 'the boiling frog' syndrome that I learned twenty years ago from Professor Charles Handy, London Business School, and I guess that it is this that has compelled me to write this blog today.

Charles Handy taught me that it is a fact that you can put a frog in a saucepan of cold water and slowly heat it up. The frog will continually adapt to the increasing heat and, eventually, die in the pot of very hot water. On the other hand, if you first heat a pot of water to, say, less than the temperature that will kill the frog, and if you drop a frog in it, the frog will immediately leap out of the water.

We all seem to be boiling frogs around the world. For several years we have had the increasing climate change to boil in. We are boiling in world pollution and so on.

But my point today, is that we are experiencing an unprecedented and exponential increase in information and knowledge around the world, and we are restructuring our businesses and our institutions and our daily work more and more around knowledge. Furthermore, the World Wide Web is fundamentally and radically restructuring our businesses around higher knowledge and better ways to create and apply knowledge.

This major change in redesigning our work around knowledge, major growth, and major disruption, will undoubtedly bring massive new global opportunities for entrepreneurship and innovation, growth and profitability, on the one hand, and certain death to those businesses who sit as boiling frogs and do not see the change taking place.

Too many politicians are boiling frogs too, and are still talking about fixing things, back to the way they were, as opposed to recognizing the global restructuring around knowledge that is taking place day by day.

Let's not be boiling frogs but, instead, let's leap into this new paradigm of one highly interconnected global knowledge economy.

What do you think?

Ron Young

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

KM in Defence and KM in Government

I am running two three day KM events in Singapore in May 2009 as follows:

21 - 23 May KM in Defence25 - 27 May KM in Government

For further details of these and other events go to the K2B website.

Ron Young

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Facebook Youtube & Myspace

On my flight back from Delhi, India to London yesterday, I read 'The stories of facebook, Youtube and myspace - the people, the hype and the deals behind the giants of Web 2.0' by Sarah Lacy. Sarah is an award winning journalist and writer for Businessweek.com and lives in San Francisco.

I recommend this book to anyone who is looking for some great insights into the Web 2.0 workings of Silicon Valley. I read it non-stop.

Here are just a few snippets that inspired me, and maybe they will resonate with you too:

- we are now dealing with proven Internet business models, dramatically lower costs of doing business, and the now billion-person-strong Web audience.

- Blogging, Sharing videos. Sharing news clips. Sharing restaurant reviews. Sharing photos. Sharing friends. Every single one of these sites is about meeting people, staying in touch, or witnessing people's own personal quirky forms of self-expression.

- Eyeballs, then cash.

- to get Digg up and running. A thousand bucks went to a coder, who actually built it. Server space, rented online, was going to run him $99 a month. The domain set him back the most, $1,200. Ouch.

- But most important than entertainment, self-expression, or ego-boosting is the human need to connect...sites are frequently described as addictive.

- No other place has mastered and utilized community the way the world of open source software had.

- Both Linux and Mozilla succeeded because they made people feel they were a part of a movement, something bigger than themselves.

- By August 2003, Niklas sent some text messages to his friends telling them to check out Skype.com. They told their friends. That was the extent of their marketing. Within a month they had 1 million users.

- The Web would know you, and as a result what you would like

Ron Young

Saturday, February 28, 2009

What Would Google Do? Global Knowledge!

Although I have just reached page 82 only, of a 250 page book entitled What Would Google Do? by Jeff Jarvis, I strongly recommend the book already.

I have already learned so much and it has given me many more new and very powerful insights into the New Economy.

Jeff Jarvis reverse engineers Google and shows how the internet challenges us all with amazing new opportunities based on abundance thinking, and at the same time, how it is destroying organizations who thrive on scarcity.

Free is a business model and it certainly made me think 'What business are you really in?'

I think this book is an absolute must read, for anybody who is serious about the global knowledge economy.

Ron Young

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Not just knowledge management, but really achieving corporate objectives

Several months ago, I had a meeting with an organizationwho wanted to review their knowledge management progressover the past 12 months.

They recalled that a first principle of good knowledge managementis to develop a strategic plan which links knowledge managementactivities to the corporate objectives. Although theyhad done this in the development of the km strategy, theyhad not set up any effective ways to measure this and, in fact,had forgotten to properly focus on this as a first principle.

In reality, they had become too immersed and too engrossed withthe notion, and within the boundaries, of the practice of knowledgemanagement.

The key question to ask ourselves is 'Are we in the business of helpingthe organization better achieve, or even exceed, its corporateobjectives, through implementing effective knowledge management,or are we in the business of effective knowledge management?

There is quite a difference in focus and implementation.

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