Entovation International
A Large Scale Enterprise And Knowledge Management:
The Motorola Approach

Debra M. Amidon

Our research shows that organizations of every size, industry and sector appear to be addressing the implications of the knowledge economy for them and their constituency. Every approach is unique; for, indeed, every company is unique.

In the last three years, there is been an explosion of Knowledge Management conferences - first in a generic sense (e.g., the Knowledge Advantage of Ernst & Young, the Knowledge Imperative Symposium of Arthur Andersen and APQC, KM 96/97 of Business Intelligence and more). Subsequent conferences focused on specific industries (e.g., the Oil & Gas Industry, Pharmaceuticals, etc). And now, we see emerging functional specific knowledge conferences, such as the ones scheduled in London for Chief Financial Officers (CFO's) and Chief Learning Officers (CLO's). Our prediction is that this is only the beginning...they barely touch the surface of what might be needed for true implementation within an organization. So, these forums are wonderful idea generators, opportunities for networking with kindred spirits, learning about best practices; but "a good idea does not an innovation make!"

And so, the real challenge, is how best to bring the knowledge into the company and integrate it with current practice, desired market positioning and emerging vision. For those of us who have been practitioners, we know that this is far more difficult than one might expect.

Motorola is an excellent example of one leading company with a history of a learning philosophy who has decided to bring the knowledge agenda in-house. With a series of 'Knowledge Collaboration' symposia, RS Moorthy (aahr15@email.mot.com), Director, Research and Strategic Capabilities, with expert assistance from Verna Allee, Integral Performance Group (http://www.vernaallee.com), and author of The Knowledge Evolution, has convened events for senior executives and are now manages an on-line dialogue with the assistance of George Por, Community Intelligence Lab (gpor@Co-I-L.com).

In a carefully designed seminar series for senior executives, the company has brought the best theorists and practitioners into Motorola for dialogue on the implications of the knowledge economy - both trends and practices - for the future of Motorola. The first symposium featured Leif Edvinsson (Skandia), Hubert Saint-Onge (The Mutual Group), Gordon Petrash (formerly Dow), and Bipin Junarrkar (Monsanto).

The second symposium (this August) opened with remarks from Pat Canavan, Senior Vice President for Global Leadership and Organizational Development. In referencing the size and history of the company, he noted how the lag time in transferring ideas (technology) from Europe to the United States. What might take only 7 hours within a small geographic region can expand to 7 days and even 7 years when crossing the Atlantic. In a dynamic, global economy, this can no longer be the case. The answer is in collaboration; but how does this effect the way business strategy is developed and implemented?!

Unlike most symposia where speakers have little time to develop their ideas, each speaker in the series is provided with a full half day. Material is geared toward actual examples and mechanisms for delivery in addition to the typical war stories. Accepting the mandate, the group outlined some of the specific challenges which needed to be addressed, such as partnership with customers, cross-organizational information, overcoming the NIH-syndrome (i.e. Not-Invented-Here), electronic communications and standards, cultural barriers (not technology per se) and more.

Debra M. Amidon outlined "Visualizing the Knowledge Economy: The State-of-the Art, the State-of-the-Practice and the State-of -the Future".

Groups were formed to create a radar chart of their innovation capability along ENTOVATION's ten dimensions of innovation strategy:

2. Evaluate PERFORMANCE MEASURES which are both tangible and intangible.
3. Leverage EDUCATION/DEVELOPMENT to incubate new businesses.
4. Convert the worldwide presence into a DISTRIBUTED LEARNING NETWORK.
5. Manage COMPETITIVE INTELLIGENCE with a wide radar scope.
6. Create more new KNOWLEDGE PRODUCTS and SERVICES than the competition.
7. Manage and learn from the plethora of STRATEGIC ALLIANCES.
8. Maintain a MARKET IMAGE consistent with a focus on knowledge and innovation.
9. Create a LEADERSHIP POSITION and LEVERAGE both internally and externally.
10. Implement a COMPUTER/COMMUNICATION strategy which learns from internal and external dialogue.

Kent Greenes (greeneka@bp.com), Director of Knowledge Management for BP, outlined the evolution of the focus within the company, illustrating the use of technology, business case examples, and future directions. By posing some basic questions initially to the group (e.g. "What is your current stock price? What should it be? If we cut x% of our workforce, how might we work smarter to create value? What's the one thing keeping you from making progress?"), he set the stage for the business implications of a knowledge strategy.

By illustrating some of the learnings from their activities to-date, Greenes suggests the 4 things which have made a difference in their journey:

  • Admitting that KM is not a new initiative, not rocket science, and acknowledging that people have been doing it for some time.
  • Identifying the right CONDITIONS for KM to flourish.
  • Providing the right MEANS for managing knowledge via a robust KM framework.
  • Nurturing the right ACTIONS by lowering barriers to knowledge sharing behaviors.

"If you learn faster than your opponents,you are going to win every time" says Greenes. He described the value of the 're-use' of knowledge - building upon the knowledge already created, and ended with the heart of the opportunity - "contributing to the sustainable development around the world." In describing BP's learning curve, he identified 5 stages:

1. Engagement Phase
2. Applying Simple Tools Phase
3. Capturing and leveraging Knowledge Phase
4. Internalized learning Phase
5. Breakthrough Phase

These notions are reinforced in an interview "Unleashing the Power of Learning" (Harvard Business Review (September/October 1997), with John Browne, BP's CEO. He provides the executive view of the knowledge imperative, answering several questions about the affect of the diffusion of knowledge on the competition, the critical kinds of learning, the notion of distinctive assets and distinctive relationships, learning networks of similar organizations, and how to create a culture of continuous innovation.

Chuck Sieloff, Manager (chuck_sieloff@hp.com), Corporate Information Systems, Hewlett Packard Company, provided an open analysis of the internal Corporate Leadership Forum Study. Why do large companies stall and how might one keep growth going? In an illuminating presentation, he contrasted that the factors which traditionally made HP successful in the past (i.e., local and informal) may not be what is needed for the future (i.e., global and formal). In describing the results of their cultural assessment, they realize:

1. Knowledge is not well documented.
2. While reusing knowledge is considered desirable, many people do not put much time into it.
3. People believe that sharing is more valued than hoarding; they would like to share but do not have the time.
4. Trust is a big factor on both sides of a knowledge-sharing transaction.
5. The organization invests in development programs; but most knowledge is personal and most learning is individual.

Sieloff acknowledges that executives must step up to the KM challenge:

  • Don't wait for top-down sponsorship.
  • Link your efforts to the business problems and strategies rather than expecting people to rally under the KM banner.
  • Turn the KM 'community of interest' into a 'community of practice.'
  • KM problems are often the flip side of HP strengths (e.g. decentralization, product innovation and business focus).

Finally, George Por (gpor@mail.sportos.com), architect of the Knowledge Ecology University and expert on 'Communities of Practice' facilitated the dialogue on how Motorola could use the concept to deliver business results. Using the Community Development Architecture(TM) - Knowledge, Social, Business and Technology, he suggested the value proposition:

  • Process and product improvement, continuous innovation through developing and spreading practices better
  • Time savings, accelerating time-to-market and other business cycles, and letting the organization learn faster than its competitors.
  • Fostering cross-functional and cross-divisional collaboration, turning knowledge skills into knowledge-sharing networks
  • increasing the ability of your organization's members to initiate and contribute to projects across organizational boundaries.

He focused on the Knowledge Ecosystem:

  1. A network of conversations, face-to-face and electronic meetings, facilitated for results, richly hyperlinked with feeding, and fed by
  2. A knowledge center: a collection of shared project and team references, knowledge bases of both proven solutions and new approaches to what, who, why, how, where and when.

He contrasted KM and Knowledge Ecology. Knowledge Ecology adds context, synergy and an emphasis on culture. See comparison table at http://www.co-i-l.com/coil/knowledge-garden/dkescop/kmke.shtml

The final Symposium in the series is scheduled for late October and will feature Stephen Denning (The World Bank), Larry Prusak (IBM), Karl-Erik Sveiby (Sveiby Knowledge Management) and Bob Buckman (Buckman Laboratories).

By bringing the expertise in-house, the organization has optimized the dialogue among its executives and provided an opportunity to convert 'idea-to action' (i.e., the ENTOVATION definition of innovation) real-time. Because dynamics are moving at such a pace, companies cannot rely on external education programs alone to create and diffuse the awareness afforded by a knowledge economy. Internal leadership must be aggressive, progressive and systematic about implementing these concepts.

If companies are not large scale, they should consider linking with other smaller companies in their local area to create similar initiatives as a venture in 'collaborative learning.'

Email: debra@entovation.com
www: http://www.entovation.com


1996-1999 ENTOVATION International. All rights reserved.
Reprinted from I3 Update - 24.