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If Only We Knew What We Know: The Transfer of Internal Knowledge and Best Practice Hardcover – November 10, 1998
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Responding to the familiar observation that what you don't know can and will hurt you, American Productivity and Quality Center leaders Carla O'Dell and C. Jackson Grayson Jr. have countered with a contention that the "hidden reservoirs of intelligence that exist in almost every organization" can, with work, be efficiently tapped "to create customer value, operational excellence, and product innovation--all the while increasing profits and effectiveness." If Only We Knew What We Know is their detailed examination of the resultant groundbreaking but common-sense methodology they have dubbed "knowledge management," along with their analysis of several companies such as Amoco, Arthur Andersen, Buckman Laboratories, and Xerox that are successfully employing it today. By studying the execution and evolution of this practice in over 70 companies involved with their non-profit management organization, the two have observed how top practitioners are turning internal information that's already selectively available into dynamic improvements that are apparent throughout the companies. They describe how to implement knowledge management in your own firm and describe the "enabling context" (including infrastructure, culture, technology, and measurement) that help or hinder the process. --Howard Rothman
From Library Journal
The authors, heads of the American Productivity and Quality Center, focus on the notion of internal best practices, discussing the barriers to internal knowledge transfer and offering detailed recommendations for overcoming these barriers. Of particular value is their Knowledge Management Assessment Tool (KMAT), a device to help organizations assess their strengths and weaknesses in managing internal knowledge. A good starting point for those new to KM.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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I mention this basic exercise to suggest what probably motivated O'Dell and Grayson to write this book. They focus on what they call "beds of knowledge" which are "hidden resources of intelligence that exist in almost every organization, relatively untapped and unmined." They suggest all manner of effective strategies to "tap into "this hidden asset, capturing it, organizing it, transferring it, and using it to create customer value, operational excellence, and product innovation -- all the while increasing profits and effectiveness."
Almost all organizations claim that their "most valuable assets walk out the door at the end of each business day." That is correct. Almost all intellectual "capital" is stored between two ears and much (too much) of it is, for whatever reasons, inaccessible to others except in "small change." O'Dell and Grayson organize their material as follows:
Part One: A Framework for Internal Knowledge Transfer
Part Two: The Three Value Propositions [ie Customer Intimacy, Product-to-Product Excellence, and Achieving Operational Excellence]
NOTE: Part Two will be even more valuable when read in combination with Treacy & Wiersema's The Discipline of Market Leaders.
Part Three: The Four Enablers of Transfer
Part Four: Reports From the Front Lines: Pioneer Case Studies
Part Five: The Four Phase Process: Or, "What I Do on Monday Morning"
In the Conclusion, the authors assert that "there is no conclusion to managing knowledge and transferring best practices. It is a race without a finishing line." They are right, now and especially in years to come. In the concluding chapter, the authors share ten "Enduring Principles" which should inform and direct the formulation of any plan by which to manage knowledge and transfer best practices. During implementation of the plan, everyone involved must be willing and able to make whatever adjustments may be necessary. Perhaps the authors would agree with me that an 11th "enduring principle" affirms that change is the only constant. Those who share my high regard for this book are urged to check out Senge's The Fifth Discipline and The Dance of Change as well as Isaac's Dialogue.
With regard to the exercise briefly explained in the first paragraph, one of its many value-added benefits occurs following the completion of the exercise when most (if not) of the participants begin to offer unsolicited suggestions as to how they can do even more to assist their associates. Four of the most powerful words in any organization are "I need your help." But first you have to ask for it.