Understanding Intellactual Capital

I have often been asked by prospective clients who should lead the KM effort in their organization.

I have also seen a few KM programs getting delayed because there was dissention as to who within the organization should lead the function. (Actually the issue is that no-one wants to take ownership

of KM)

This dilemma boils down to the confusion as to what is KM and the objectives the organization wishes to achieve through the KM initiative.

Organizations constantly generate knowledge in the normal course of business. When employees interact with customers, knowledge is generated. When employees interact with each other more knowledge is produced. When the organization interacts with external entities – Customers, vendors, government – knowledge is produced. In every interaction internally or externally knowledge is getting generated.

Over time, repeatedly used knowledge gets embedded in the organization in the form of culture, and in its systems & processes. Part of the knowledge resides in individuals who gain expertise in functional areas. The Organization starts to display a ‘character’ which is the sum of its knowledge residing in People (Human Capital), Processes (Structural Capital) and Relationships (Relational Capital also known as Customer Capital). This becomes its Intellectual Capital. (See diagram above)

Knowledge Management is a conscious decision to efficiently harness this wealth of Intellectual Capital. It takes the form of a KM Initiative when the enterprise consciously and comprehensively gathers, organizes, shares, and analyzes its knowledge in order to build employee capability and Organization competitiveness.

All organizations possess Human Capital, Structural Capital and Relational Capital in differing proportions. However depending on the type of industry there may be a tendency to emphasize one over the other. A Manufacturing organization tends to stress on Structural Capital (broadly indicated by the obsession with TQM, 6 Sigma etc); A Consulting organization puts emphasis on its Human Capital (indicated by the efforts to improve the competence and effectiveness of its consultants); A Service provider gives importance to Relational Capital (Placing significant value on customer experience and feedback).

The depending on the type of industry and the focus of the KM Program- on Human Capital or Structural Capital or Relational Capital- the person to lead the KM effort should be chosen. This alignment enables faster adoption within the organization.

If you have any further insights, do leave a comment.

Technorati Tags: Customer Capital, Human Capital, Intellectual Capital, Knowledge Management, Relational Capital, Structural Capital


‘Leverage’ will be the Key Word for Knowledge Management

While a lot of noise is getting generated around getting ‘Social’ and ‘Gamification’, my strong conviction is that the Key Word for 2014 is going to be ‘Leverage’. After all, just as ‘all roads lead to Rome’, the objective of all KM efforts is to ‘leverage’ the knowledge residing in the organization and in its people, as well as knowledge available outside, for the benefit of the organization.

It was Peter Senge  who first propounded the concept of ‘Leveraging Knowledge’ in his seminal work ‘The Fifth Discipline’ . Later Thomas Stewart carried the thought further in his tome ‘The Wealth of Knowledge’. All KM Techniques, Tools and Thoughts are in essence building around this objective- to unleash the power of knowledge that has accumulated in the course of business.

I have always advocated that for KM to succeed it has to have Business Impact. I have also espoused that most solutions to problems reside with the very people who are close to the ground. It is just it needs to be ‘uncovered/ discovered’ through a process of involvement. Unfortunately, the current organization structure almost mandates that solutions need to be directed from the top- according to hierarchy. However this is changing, with management thought veering around to the belief that a Manager is like a ‘Music Conductor’. He orchestrates the harmonious performance of individuals/ departments with specific expertise and blends their talents for success.

Similarly KM is harmonizing with L&D, Talent Management and Content Management to enhance the capabilities of the organization to address the business challenges in a sustainable manner. Social Network technologies and features, creating Gamification programs, using Analytics and Cloud, providing content on Mobile, are merely tools to achieve the objective.

When the organization does ‘leverage’ the internal powerhouse of gathered knowledge, it does so at a fraction of the cost it would incur to throw resources in search of an outside solution.

This is why I am so sure that 2014 will be good for KM. We only need to learn how to apply ‘leverage’ better than before.

Let me know what your Key Word is for 2014….

As the year 2013 draws to a close it is time to pay tribute to all those who have played a role in the journey of InKnoWin Consulting during the year. And I felt there is no better way than to put all the names up there on a wall and publicly acknowledge them. Using a Freeware ‘TAGUL’ I have managed to do so in the Word Cloud below:

Appreciating the people who made a difference to inknowin Consulting

Thank you for your guidance, encouragement, inspiration, conversations, ideas, and business and for being a friend. InKnoWin Consulting has grown in depth of expertise and outlook, because of you. It is our commitment to make 2014 even better- together.

May 2014 bring you closer to your goals, and may you be enriched by the people and experiences you encounter along the way.

Thank you for what you have been! Yes to what we can do better in 2014!


Rudolf D’Souza

KM Asia 13 Speakers at KM Asia

In this blog on KM Asia 2103 I share my takeaways from some of the other brilliant participants and their case studies. This is in no particular order.

Avi Kedem, CKO, Israel Aerospace Industries enlightened the conference with the very real issue of Knowledge Continuity of retirees’. However I can see that the same applies where vital knowledge is concentrated in a few.

There were two key take aways for me- 1) The 4 stage process that he has perfected and which he described in detail. 2) Identifying the Critical 5% Knowledge that represents 75% of the Vital Knowledge that needs to be transferred. If one gets the latter right, and follows the process, organizations will ensure Knowledge Continuity.

Cheryl Teh Su Meng, VP-KM, Khazanah Nasional Berhad, Malaysia caught my attention because of her unusual background. She was in KM with a consulting firm for many years before taking a break. When she returned to the field of KM she initially worked with Genting Highlands , an amusement park, before her current assignment at the Sovereign Fund of her country.

Cheryl brought forth a simple truth brilliantly- how does one describe what KM is and what is your role? According to her “IF YOUR MOTHER CAN EXPLAIN WHAT YOU DO, THEN YOU HAVE PERFECTLY DEFINED YOUR ROLE OF KM!” Thank you Cheryl for this insight. I am trying it with my mother (86 years) as well as with my wife of 22 years. I do not know if I will succeed. Will keep you updated.


Dr Ricky Tsui, Director R&D (eastern Region), ARUP, HK  gave an outstanding presentation. What was unique that he delivered it in an almost ‘Pecha-Kucha’ style: 20 slides of 20 seconds each! Pecha-Kucha is a Japanese word for ‘chatter’ and is a technique devised by an architect couple in Tokyo. Dr Ricky was crisp, clear and well understood. He explained how KM has become the critical enabler for innovation and business success in Arup. I especially liked that fact that KM has achieved the ‘Holy Grail of KM’- ability to monetize the Intellectual Assets. They have been able to sell Products and Applications to a variety of clients such as wireless charging for Cars. They now sell their in-house developed Design Software ‘Oasys’ which evolved from the tools developed by their Communities of Practice.


Kelvn Soh, Social Intranet Manager, Singtel: Kelvin is unusually tall for a Singaporean. Behind the jovial demeanour is a creative genius. He is much awarded for designing innovative websites. His title tells it all. He is in charge for the innovative Singtel Social KM website- Espresso. And he enthralled the audience with his presentation starting with the launch date 11-11-11 and time 11-11. He explained that by keeping the familiar social media interface, acceptance was easier. However he warned that the focus should not be on technology – but on PEOPLE- the USERS! His 10 learnings/ rules began and ended with the need for ‘Executive Support’.


Dr Devsen Kruthiventhi, Head KM and L&D, TATA Projects presented the MAKE case study of TATA Chemicals which he was heading at that time. With a background in Mathematics and Academics (he was a maths professor) the late entrant to the KM world wowed the audience in his simple yet elegant style about how the KM program evolved over the years. Using the power of metaphors, the TITLI (Hindi for Butterfly) program cross pollinated knowledge from one part of the organization to the other. Dr Devsen shared how the humble ‘supervisor’ was identified as the Key holder of organization Knowledge and how they created programs to give this class of workers the importance they deserved. Everyone was interested in the sophisticated Key Performance Matrices that TATA Chemicals is now using to measure KM Efficiency, Effectiveness and Innovation.

So there were lots to be learnt at KM Asia. In the concluding part, I will cover some more speakers and their presentations and summarize my Top 5 Take aways from KM Asia 2013.

With Nancy Dixon, David Gurteen at KM Asia 13

In this blog let me focus on Conversations and Knowledge Cafe’s.

Some background: I am not a huge fan of conversations as a KM Tool! This is perhaps because of my conditioning in Sales and Business Development for most of my career.  The ‘Lets Get on with the job’ attitude and ‘Let’s keep correcting things as we move along’ makes it difficult to accept that there is another way. Also, I guess I had a lot of misconceptions about the tools. KM Asia 2013 was the place where I interacted closely with Nancy Dixon and David Gurteen. So, I have just started to understand the role of these tools in Knowledge Sharing. My take-aways:

  • Nancy Dixon: As the co-chair, Nancy introduced an interesting twist at the end of every Presentation. Instead of the standard Q&A, she triggered a 4-5 minute conversation at the tables, on the presentation. Thereafter each table had to summarize their key insights or confusions. This was novel! The feedback from participants was that this conversation them realize that sometimes they were not alone in their conflicts- others too had similar confusions; different viewpoints enriched their action points, since it came from the secure environment of fellow practitioners, who were seekers like themselves.
    I saw firsthand how conversations in a relatively secure environment enriched the experience of the participants.
    What I realized was that these conversations helped people to ‘personalize’ their learnings according to their contexts, which might not have happened so consistently had it been the usual Q&A after each presentation. In essence a critical part of any learning event is taking the time to reflect on the insights we have developed with others. We learn the most when we first think through our own insights and then gain new perspectives on that learning from others
  • David Gurteen is a ‘household’ name in the field of KM. He is synonymous with ‘Knowledge Cafe’s’ that he has created and perfected.
    I first ran into David at KM Asia many years ago and attended his ‘Speed Dating’ Knowledge Cafe in Bangalore at the KM India Summit a couple of years back. It was an innovation he had to come up with given the paucity of time. The India MAKE winners were given different corners of the room. The audience was split into an equal number of groups as MAKE winners. Each group had 5 minutes with a MAKE Winner. Thereafter they rotated to the next. In the 5 Minutes, the MAKE Winner had to do a 2 Minute ‘Elevator Pitch’ to the audience. This was followed by 3 minutes of Q&A. At the end everyone agreed that they gained more from this exercise than had it been the normal MAKE Presentations and Q&A.At KM Asia 2013, David Gurteen innovated once more. He presented a short video clip and then conducted a Knowledge Cafe in the traditional manner- smaller groups initially, followed by single group sharing! It helped that he chose a controversial topic ‘Rewards destroy Motivation’ which created instant polarization. At the end of the Knowledge Cafe I saw participants taking on board others viewpoints and while consensus was not reached (that was never the objective), each one was enriched by the variety of viewpoints.

So through the experience with Nancy and David I realize that quite often ‘Conversation Matters’ especially if it is a ‘Knowledge Cafe’’

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