|7 C’s of Knowledge
Leadership: Innovating our Future
by Debra M. Amidon and Doug Macnamara
of the inventors responsible for
A new economic world order is emerging – one based upon the flow of intellectual, not financial capital. Every function, every industry and every region of the world – developing and industrialized nations alike – is experiencing profound changes in the way we manage our most precious resource – human talent. Modern management concepts are evolving from practitioners – not the theoretical academic research base. Leading (and being led) is more a function navigation and networking than the traditional command-and-control systems with which we are familiar.
Most astute executive managers have seen beyond the limitations of an information society, technology-enamoured strategies and the dot.com phenomenon. Modern leaders do not fear the speed of change; they embrace an agenda of learning. They know that effective management is not a matter of having the most knowledge; it is knowing how to use it. It is not enough to know modern management concepts. How they get implemented (i.e., put into action)? Leadership is more an art than a science, but that doesn’t excuse us for searching for appropriate metrics for a return-on-leadership (ROL). We must develop an innovation competence and how to measure the performance thereof.
At the heart of the current transformation is the human being within whom knowledge resides. And the path to a sustainable future is an ability to innovate - create knowledge, convert it into viable products and services, and apply it for the profitable growth of an enterprise, the vitality of a nation’s economy and the advancement of society. It is that simple and that complex.
There is certainly nothing new about the link of knowledge and progress. Since man began to interact with his environment, what he knew was essential for survival. What is different about the Knowledge Economy is our ability to focus upon and manage knowledge – individual and collective – more explicitly. Because of the multiplier effect of knowledge – the more it is shared, the more it grows – we are now evolving a view of executive development demanding a new style of leadership behavior.
Below we identify seven domains where we might (re) consider the implications for knowledge leadership.
Leadership in Measurement
Although many of these principles may have been around for decades, few organizations have implemented them in a major way. Fewer have discovered a systematic way to measure the results. Measurement in the management development field is uncomfortable and time-consuming. Now, with the significant research being done with the Brookings Institute and a variety of accounting/finance academic research centers and professional societies, we are beginning to comprehend the power behind the intangible value of the enterprise.
Today, we measure what we can measure, rather than ask the difficult questions. Courageous leaders such a Leif Edvinsson, notably the first Chief Knowledge Officer in the World and now a professor of Knowledge Economics at the University of Lund (Copenhagen, Denmark) said, "I’d rather be roughly right than precisely wrong!"1
The good news is that considerable progress has been made. There is a major research project affiliated with the Brookings Institute providing guidance. Accounting Boards and professional organizations world-wide have placed the intangibles agenda as a priority. Best Practice Guidelines2 – even in this emerging field – are surfacing.
A Knowledge Leadership Litmus Test
In the Knowledge Innovation® Assessment, one of the ten dimensions of innovation strategy is leadership. Check your own capability.
We are at the dawn of a new millennium. The leadership required to carry us forward may not resemble what was necessary in the past.
Millennium leadership will not avoid the issues of measurement. They will embrace innovative mechanisms, tools and methodologies to navigate into the future. We will not avoid the issue of results on investment in building leadership capability. We will discover the human and humane methods to document progress. Our generations to come deserve nothing less.
1 Leif Edvinsson in response to an interview question. Published in "Global Momentum of Knowledge Strategy" available on-line: http://www.entovation.com/momentum/globalmn.htm.
2 David J. Skyrme and Debra M. Amidon. "Measuring the Value of Knowledge." Handbook of Business Strategy. New York, NY: Faulner and Gray. (1999) P. 179.
These excerpts are provided as an introduction to the complete article soon to be published in the the 2001 Handbook of Business Strategy, Faulkner & Grey. For publication details, contact Debra M. Amidon (Email: email@example.com)
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