Connect – Share – Discover

Knowledge management at Getronics Consulting

It is the business of Getronics’ consultants is to design and implement enterprise ICT, both for large private companies and public sector organizations. In 2009, Getronics radically transformed its knowledge management. This post provides a brief account of the transition using concept mapping. The account is based on an edited interview with the then director of Getronics Consulting, Ronald Groenendijk (gleaned from 15 Praktijkverhalen over kennismanagement, a book in Dutch with 15 cases on knowledge management).

Knowledge building        According to Getronics Consulting knowledge management is about knowledge building, which means that for its consultants to be efficient and effective they must engage in knowledge sharing and expertise building, to begin with among themselves and in order to “bring out the best in each other” (slogan 1). This new concept of knowledge management replaces old, Intranet 1.0 forms of knowledge sharing that are much more information based, using a range of documents, including project files, templates, procedures, best practices, and knowledge maps.

getronics knowledge management

Connect-share-discover       For this knowledge building of sharing and discovery (of each other’s expertise) to take place, there must first be a connection (hence slogan 2). This is facilitated by new ICT tools that enable Web 2.0 forms of networking and social learning. It is also encouraged by a number of incentives, including options to meet colleagues, showcase one’s expertise, boost one’s career, and reduce work stress by smart collaboration.

Knowledge strategy       The company culture can only change if the consultants’ consciousness about new forms of knowledge management is raised, which in turn requires new ICT tools in the form of sharing & collaboration technology. Clearly, the success of this interdependent strategy depends on the way the project is organized. In this case, the knowledge transformation is driven by the users themselves. A relatively small group of pioneers are given the freedom to innovate the sharing & collaboration technology, based on their own needs and inspired by their own web 2.0 experiences outside the company. The usefulness of the innovations is evaluated by means of a sounding board. A high-level steering group eliminates possible bottlenecks, budgetary or otherwise, that constrain the process of trial-and-error or the upscaling of possible useful results.

Social networking evangelist       At the time of writing only 10-20% of the consultants had made the transition. One of the ideas was that unconventional measures, such as employing a ‘social networking evangelist’ might be necessary to successfully raise the consciousness among the bulk of the staff and make the behavioral shift to produce the culture transition in the company as a whole. No matter what was to be decided, one thing was clear: knowledge management will remain in flux for many years to come with unexpected outcomes as a result.

Systems notes       Changing the way consultants work is a complex challenge that cannot be left in the hands of the individual consultants. It means the company as a whole must change quite radically. At the same time the company must remain fully functional during the transition. The consultants must find ways to make it function (i.e. pilot it) themselves, because a top-down approach will never work, considering there is are loads of tacit knowledge involved. It is interesting to see that in this case there is no mention of these aspects, neither is there of the complex nature of the problems to be solved by the consultants. To get a better idea of these underlying aspects, click here.

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