Friday, December 30, 2016

Prologue - Knowledge Managemeent



It was quite some time that I had a chance meeting with the Director, Engineering Services, Unilever, India. We were waiting for our flight to Bombay.

He mentioned to me that a few years back he put in place an Innovation Promotion Cell at their Corporate Office. He handpicked a few youngsters across different operating areas having flair for thinking ‘out of the box’. Their mandate was to work on qualitative improvement in critical company operations. The group was assigned problems which were hampering the Company’s strategically set policies with regard to economic viability and development oriented pursuits. The initiative resulted in generating ideas to tackle the problem areas with innovative approach.

A few years later, I was on a visit to Wellington in New Zealand where I came across non-conventional steps taken by their Revenue Department to simplify procedure for tax collections with an eye on customer friendly approach.

Back home, I had the occasion to visit Alstom, India in Delhi to examine the scope for Condition Based Maintenance as predictive measures to enhance equipment availability. The young engineers, who were already working on enhancement of asset utilization there, used the database on equipment performances for trend analysis, statistical evaluation and strategic intervention to arrive at about 90% improvement in equipment performances. They achieved the same through ‘creative problem solving’ techniques.

Subsequently, while in a Seminar, I was briefed by the Senior Marketing Manager of Nestle, India about how she utilized the services of young recruits in engaging them to lateral thinking in problem solving. She put them in the exercise, like how to absorb any enhancement of commercial taxes by the Government without passing on the same to the costumers. She discovered such application oriented efforts to train youngsters, extremely useful not only for them to understand various operations in the organization, but expose them to the company’s mission.

Subsequently in the pursuit of professional career with Larsen & Toubro, Bombay in their different manufacturing bases, I could closely examine the scope to improve upon working methods, materials inputs and productivity improvement through innovative approach. I could successfully fix some problems in those areas. 

In that process I learnt to examine the problems with a different approach.

When I had a stint with Caterpillar Tractor Company in the UK, I was exposed to the concerted efforts by the Management to bring continuous improvement in their operations with creative approach.

In all these cases it is the application of Knowledge which formulated the built-in strategy. This was across all boundaries.

 I read somewhere where Bill Gates of Microsoft mentioned, ‘If corporate bosses can manage knowledge well, they can have no problem in managing the organization’.

Subsequently, I read through different articles and books, originated mainly from the professionals and authors in the USA and Japan, when I began to understand the concepts of Knowledge Management as an effective Corporate Strategy.

The exposure and subsequent reflections lead me to believe that Knowledge is an asset, it is the source of power, it can be construed as the divine gift to human race, it can also bode destructiveness, it is the stimulant for mind to drive the brain, and finally it is the agent for transformation.

As a process of consolidation, I thought of documenting my understanding of knowledge generation, dissipation and preservation for the benefit of organizations at large. In that effort, a new horizon to management practices has evolved.

The efforts in knowledge applications, as I perceive, enrich life with the creation of something new and of worth.

This is the prologue to my book on ‘Knowledge Management – A New Horizon’.