|The Ken Awakening
Press Release - April 23, 1997
International Book Launch
For the first time in history, a book is being premiered in the gardens of Giverny, France. Standing amidst Claude Monet's water lillies, Debra M. Amidon, author of Innovation Strategy for the Knowledge Economy: The Ken Awakening (Butterworth-Henemann), announced "We need to take a Monet view of management throughout the world." At the international book launch ceremony held at the Museum of American Art, Amidon was hosted by Dr. Jean-Marie Carpentier, President of the University of Rouen, Dr. Jean Marc Le Duc, and Dr. Marc Moret, Transinnova and Eunika Mercier-Laurent, EML Conseil.
In her remarks, Debra proposed, "The dynamics of a global economy require a more impressionist view, similar to the techniques of Claude Monet. Only by standing back and observing the whole, can one appreciate the interrelationships of the parts. Similarly, organizations are organic beings which require progressive management techniques to take advantage of a world transforming at a blistering pace. It is this combination of structure and natural evolution which is reflected in the magnificent gardens and the masterpieces Monet painted."
Joined by family, colleagues and representative French leaders, Amidon reflected on the uniqueness of the environment for the next millennium. The knowledge economy is very personal. It is not something which will be done to us; it is something to which we will all contribute our intellect and intuition. Unlike the agricultural age, the industrial age and the short-lived information society, the knowledge economy lies within each one of us.
Recent management trends have run havoc with the natural balance of organizations. Downsizing, re-engineering and, in some respects quality initiatives, have forced managers to focus on the short-term, quick fixes and simplistic solutions at the expense of creativity and responsible risk-taking. In many instances, corporate morale is at an all time low. Amidon portrays a crystal, compelling vision of the future - which she calls the world trade of ideas - to inspire leaders with a path forward.
The Ken Awakening has captured the imagination of industrial, academic and government leaders around the globe. Dr. Bill Miller, V. P. For Research and Business Development, Steelcase, comments on Amidon's "compelling perspective. Her ideas more than work; they win!" Dr. Bob Levy, V.P. Energy Biosystems Corporation says that "Debra's book should be a wake-up call to small companies". Academic leaders such as Dr. Corey Carbonara, V.P. for Innovation, Baylor University describe Amidon's "laser-beam focus on the most important core competency of our time" while Dr. Javier Carrillo, ITESM, (Monterrey, Mexico) suggests that "Amidon is a pioneer explorer who has mastered the elusive concepts of knowledge management". Tom Moebus, Director of M.I.T. Corporate Relations, considers Debra "at the leading edge regarding innovation and the transformational power of knowledge."
Mentors and peers alike agree in the power of the concepts and methodologies: "Simulating and thorough comments", Dr. Erich Bloch, Distinguished Fellow with the Council on Competitiveness; "the bridge between tomorrow and today, between theory and practice", says Dr. David Skyrme (UK), editor of I3 Update - Intelligence, Insight and Innovation; "skilled in building consensus and working complex issues that require collaboration", says Dr. George Kozmetsky, founder of Teledyne; "mind-stretching for the experienced and sophisticated manager who expects to stay ahead of the competition", describes Dr. A.R.C. Westwood, retired V.P. Martin Marietta and Sandia National Laboratories. Dr. Karl-Erik Sveiby, a pioneer himself now based in Australia, applauds Amidon as "the most original conceptual thinker in the field". In the book Foreword, Leif Edvinsson who is the V.P. Intellectual Capital, Skandia, speaks of the book as "a fundamental resource with insightful and practical hands-on suggestions to move an organization ahead." "This is the beginning of a new era where the attention will refocus upon the intangible value of organizations (e.g., idea-creation, learning, innovation, etc). We are not for a lack of ideas", says Amidon. "The real problem - and inherent opportunity - lies within the capacity to put the idea into practice as individuals, organizations and nations. We have been measuring the wrong variables, focused on the wrong deliverables and underestimating the power of an innovation system based upon the flow of knowledge, not the flow of technology".
Ken is an international term with diverse but relevant meaning across cultures. In Welsh, it means all-knowing. In India, the translation in Sanskrit means center. In I-Ching, the term means stillness. Celtic and German versions refer to the notions of perspective and range of vision. In French, reconnaissance infers competitive positioning - a concept not foreign to strategy today. Japan considers it the sword of the Samurai - his soul and most prized possession. The knowledge economy - as described by Amidon - operates with a new set of rules, rewards, forms of innovation and thrives on collaboration and an abundance of resources unlike the previous assets of land, labor and financial capital.
The Ken Awakening describes a future of opportunity - not barriers - and a vision grounded with a practical rationale for sustained success. It sees beyond outdated concepts, such as value-chains or strategic business units and defines modern management terms of value-systems and strategic business networks. Today, in Claude Monet's garden, a new view of the world is envisioned - one which balances systematic management with the natural ebb and flow of life....one which illustrates the personal nature of the knowledge economy demanding inspiration and leadership form all...and one which will ultimately result in an increased standard of living for all mankind. It is a bold awakening and the beginning of a new dialogue.
Claude Monet created masterpieces for the world to enjoy. They are featured in the museums of France and all around the world. They are a spectacles of wonder. But the gardens that Monet planted, nurtured and harvested may be his most splendid achievements of all. For those of you who yearn for a different world for our children, let us learn from the lessons of a man who saw what others could not see and has the courage to bring the vision to life. Amidon believes that the challenge for international leaders demands nothing less.
Innovation Strategy for the Knowledge Economy: The Ken Awakening is now available through all good booksellers worldwide and is published by now available through Butterworth-Heinemann Publishers (Waltham, Massachusetts) is a subsidiary of Reed Elsivier with offices in Boston, Oxford, Johannesburg Melbourne, New Delhi and Singapore.
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