Archive for January, 2009

Q12- Clash of Civilizations or Dialogue among Civilizations?

January 31, 2009

In front of me are two books.

The first book is Samuel P. Huntington’s The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order” (1996). He said that the end of the Cold War and its ideological conflict is paving the way to global clashes between major cultures: Western vs. Chinese, Western vs. Islamic, Hindu vs. Islamic, Hindu vs. Chinese, etc.

The second book tells a story (Adam Kahane’s “Solving Tough Problems”: an Open Way of Talking, Listening, and Creating New Realities, 2004) of how leaders of warring political groups in apartheid South Africa met and talked together at Mont Fleur Conference Center — a fateful meeting where they mustered the courage and goodwill to clarify together the stark choices and futures South Africa faces, and which eventually paved the way towards the end of apartheid and the rise of Nelson Mandela.

As I read these two books, I feel both fear and hope. I am afraid of a nuclear holocaust started by trigger-happy leaders. What will Israel do once Iran develops a nuclear weapons capability? What will a fundamentalist Islamic group do if they are able to steal Pakistani nuclear weapons? Would desperation push North Korea to send a nuclear-tipped ballistic missile to their Korean cousins in the south?

We may yet save humankind from mutual assured destruction of a nuclear holocaust if we, especially our leaders, learn how to truly talk together.

Harvard Professor David Bohm and Mark Edwards, in their book “Changing Consciousness: Exploring the Hidden Source of the Social, Political, and Environmental Crises Facing Our World,” said

    “Suppose we were able to share meanings freely without a compulsive urge to impose our view or to conform to those of others and without distortion and self deception. Would this not constitute a real revolution in culture?”

I feel guardedly hopeful because I could see the solution, or at least the direction where humankind can find a solution, namely, generative dialogue (see “D19- Debate versus Discussion versus Dialogue”). This is what happened in 1991 at Mont Fleur. I said “guardedly” because there are people who think it is wrong for their leaders to compromise and who will use violence to stop their leaders. The 1981 assassination of Anwar Sadat after he dialogued with Israel in 1978-79 leading to the Camp David Accords is an example. The 1995 assassination of Yitzhak Rabin after the Oslo Accords of 1993 — the first official dialogue between the Israel government and the Palestinian Liberation Organization — is another example.

We all engage in conversations many times a day. It is so common, many tend to think they know how to engage in a productive conversation.

“Managing Conversations” is an entire chapter in the book, “Enabling Knowledge Creation: How to Unlock the Mystery of Tacit Knowledge and Release the Power of Innovation,” by von Krogh, Ichijo and Nonaka. According to them

    “…good conversations are the cradle of social knowledge in any organization…(which) allows for the first and most essential step of knowledge creation: sharing tacit knowledge within a microcommunity.”

Referring to the events after September 11, former President Khatami of Iran — who wrote the book “Dialogue Among Civilizations: a Paradigm for Peace” (2006) — said

    “Two superficially opposing voices are heard in America and Afghanistan, which in fact are the two sides of the same coin… One says whoever is not with America is a terrorist and the other says whoever does not accept this behavior is an opponent of Islam and a proponent of America… Such false and arrogant judgments are the root cause of violence and terror as well as war.”

William Isaacs, who studied under learning organization guru Peter Senge and double-loop learning proponent Chris Argyris, wrote about how generative dialogue can be achieved (“Dialogue and the Art of Thinking Together”, 1999).

Civilizational divides are threatening the security and stability of the planet and all of us, we need to learn how to truly talk to each other. If we can practice dialogue towards learning organizations, perhaps we can next practice it towards learning nations.

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New KM e-Book

January 29, 2009

The Asian Productivity Organization today released a new KM e-book entitled “From Productivity to Innovation: Proceedings from the Second International Conference on Technology and Innovation for Knowledge Management.” The conference was held in New Delhi, India last 12–14 February 2008. Dr. Serafin D. Talisayon of the Philippines served as the conference rapporteur and volume editor.

You can download the e-book for free by clicking HERE.


The book has 20 chapters, plus Q&A and technical sessions:
1: Back to Basics: Strategies for Identifying, Creating, Storing, Sharing and Using Knowledge (Dr. Ron Young)
2: Technology and Innovation for Knowledge Management (G. S. Krishnan, Arundhati Chattopadhyay and Avadh Yadav)
3: A Strategy for Library Networking in the Knowledge Economy (Dr. Prema Rajagopalan, Prof. M. S. Mathews and M. Kavitha)
4: Global Knowledge Management Trends (Dr. Rory Chase)
5: HAWK-i: Holistic Analysis for Working Knowledge and Implementation (Anne Chappuis, Luc de Golbéry, Paramita Sen, Nirbhay Sen and Sanjay Gupta)
6: Case Study: Knowledge Management in Wipro (Ved Prakash)
7: The Knowledge Economy Project: The Experience of IIT Roorkee (Prof. Harsha Sinvhal and Prof. Vinay K. Nangia)
8: Knowledge Management Framework: An APO Perspective (Praba Nair)
9: The Status of Knowledge Management in Asia: Results of an APO Survey of Nine Member Countries (Dr. Serafin D. Talisayon)
10: Critical Factors Constraining the Growth and Development of the Indian Economy: A Sectoral Study (Dr. Prema Rajagopalan, Prof. M. S. Mathews and M. Kavitha)
11: Knowledge Management in the Food and Nutrition Community in India: The UN’s New KM Initiative (Gopi N. Ghosh)
12: Participation of the International Management Institute in the Knowledge Economy Project (Prof. Ashoka Chandra and Prof. M. K. Khanijo)
13: Innovation and Knowledge Management: An Indic Play Ethic and a Global HR Model (Dr. Prem Saran)
14: Dimensions of Knowledge Management Projects and Leveraging Technology in Higher Educational Institutions (Dr. M. S. Rawat)
15: Service Quality in the Supply Chain: A Knowledge Gap Perspective (Gyan Prakash and Kripa Shanker)
16: The Intellectual Property System (N. N. Prasad)
17: Knowledge Management Systems in an Engineering Consultancy Organization (Sanjeev Kumar)
18: The Transformation of Innovation into Technology, Economy and Society (K. Kalaiselvan)
19: A New Infrastructure for Managing Knowledge in High-Value Outsourcing (Avinash Rao)
20: Knowledge Management for Competitive Advantage in the Steel Industry (Y. Bhaskara Rao and J. V. S. Sarma)

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Q11- Social Capital: Peace Creation = Value Creation?

January 27, 2009

You have probably read or heard of these terms (the first two are KM terms): stakeholder capital, customer capital, brand, old boy network, goodwill, corruption network, business development officer, social capital, customer relations management, etc. The same concept underlies these words. Speaking technically, these terms revolve around the common fact that relationships can and do create value. Speaking bluntly, one can make money out of relationships. We know from our own experiences that relationship is a form of asset. The generic term underlying all these is Relationship Capital.

Below is how we can break down the concept of Relationship Capital (this is a refinement of the earlier breakdown I introduced in a previous blog post, “D12- Relationship Capital versus Stakeholder Capital versus Customer Capital”)


The red text are negatives or opposites: when these are present, then they can and do destroy value. Another way of saying this is: trust in a relationship can create value, but mistrust can destroy value. Stephen M. R. Covey in his book “The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything” is saying that when trust is high, speed of work performance and transactions goes up, and business costs go down. Francis Fukuyama discovered that wealthy countries are also societies characterized by high social trust (see his book “Trust: The Social Virtues and The Creation of Prosperity”).

Trust and goodwill are among the most important intangible assets for good business. The same thing is true for world peace: building trust creates peace and opportunities for value creation. Losing trust can lead to conflict, war and value destruction.

It is a simple equation: building trust and peace = creating value.

Don’t you think so?

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Q10- “Power of the Third Kind” for Political Conflicts?

January 25, 2009

KM is about effective work performance. How do we extend the limits of human performance? Is it through technology? or knowledge management? or perhaps something else?

Let us look at an interesting case: a training program for “ultimate warriors” for the U.S. Army Special Forces.

Designed by Dr. Joel and Michelle Levey, the Ultimate Warrior Training Program was designed to achieve peak levels of performance and teamwork under extreme conditions of danger and distress. According to Dr. Levey, the goal of the program is for the elite soldiers to be able to “recognize, understand, and influence/control their internal mental, emotional and physiological experience, and that they could strengthen the mindful clarity they’d need to choose a wiser path of action even under conditions of extreme stress.”

Their means to overcome or stretch personal limitations were a combination of outward Western technology and inward Eastern behavioral tools:

  • Equipment for multiple-synchrony brainwave feedback, for learning how to move to a state of deep attunement among team members;
  • Improvement of the quality of communications;
  • Finding an inner state of calm intensity in which they can focus their mind for self healing or remain calm and alert for long periods of time;
  • Control that follows from awareness;
  • The power of mindfulness at work;
  • Aikido, for cultivating a greater sensitivity to inner energy flow and for transforming the energy of inner and outer conflict.

We are seeing new formulas for training warriors to attain the Power of the Third Kind (see previous blog on “Q9- An Exercise in Team Learning: Some/the(?) Root Causes of September 11”)

Listen to Lao-tse:

An unintended benefit of Dr. Levey’s innovation was enhanced quality of communication and relationship with their families. Wives and children reported that their husband or father openly shared their feelings and fears, and seemed more in control of their emotions.

Post-program gains over some pre-program conditions were:

      Ability to manage stress: 92%
      Clarity with regards to personal values: 83%
      Access to extraordinary states of awareness: 82%
      Access to extraordinary perceptual abilities: 201%
      Ability to learn and integrate new ideas: 109%
      Sense of bonding with team: 30%
      Ability to blend effectively with team: 43%
      Ability to extend sensory awareness: 72%

Perhaps it is time to think the unthinkable, the ultimate in personal mastery and work performance among corporate executives and employees: corporate warriors! And how about ultimate leaders — leaders who win without fighting wars?

Lao-tse again:

Would that Israelis and Palestinians and their leaders discover and listen to Lao-tse.

What do you think?


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Q9- An Exercise in Team Learning: Some/the(?) Root Causes of September 11

January 22, 2009

Last October 15, 2001 I wrote in my weekly KM column for BusinessWorld, the leading business newspaper in the Philippines, the following piece. I reproduce it verbatim below:

Japanese folklore says there are three kinds of power, symbolized by the sword, the diamond and the mirror. The sword symbolizes force: physical, military or political force. The diamond symbolizes wealth or resources. The mirror symbolizes the most powerful of the three.

I demonstrated the process of team learning before high school teachers of La Salle Greenhills. As part of their Social Science Week, they invited a speaker each day to talk about various aspects of the September 11 Event.

I talked about implications for education. No, I did not really give a talk or lecture. More accurately, we – teachers and I – explored the issue: what can we learn from the event? More precisely, what are the root-causes of the event?

I first explained the two basic phases: inquiry followed by decision. I stressed the importance of not mixing up the two modes, which means every participant must watch his or her thoughts and statements and constantly check what mode they are in. Mixing the two is unproductive. We cannot jump into judgments too soon or before we have collected and examined as much facts, possibilities and options as the group can collectively muster.

Said Fr. Anthony de Mello, in his book “Awareness: the Perils and Opportunities of Reality” : “…what you judge you cannot understand…if you desire to change what is into what you think should be, you no longer understand.”

Suspending judgment is essential in the inquiry phase, but in the decision phase consensual judgment – if it can be reached – is the essential prelude to team action.

I performed two roles: as resource person (offering content) and as facilitator (guiding group process). It provided a good opportunity for me to demonstrate conscious role-changing as I go through the physical motion of “switching hats” before I say something in another role.

The inquiry phase proceeded very smoothly from individual to group focus. This is the result of choosing an issue that involves actors external to the group. In team learning, the issue often involves the group members themselves as actors, and thus personal issues and defenses can and often block collaborative inquiry. The most common problem in this group was the unconscious shift to personal judgments during the inquiry phase – something I point out immediately to illustrate the point.

The other problems I saw were: making careless generalizations, cross checking facts, using labels that beg the issue or borders into judgment, and distinguishing symptoms from root cause.

As facilitator, I had to clarify what a speaker means in using a word or phrase, ask what is the premise behind a statement, or summarize the essential points of a speaker who tends to ramble. Most of the time after I made a facilitator intervention, I follow it up by briefly describing or naming my intervention – a heuristic tool to illustrate how a facilitator guides a group process.

The results of the group inquiry were as follows.

  • The US government’s actions, so far, seem to indicate that it is addressing only the symptoms;
  • US policy on the Israeli-Palestinian issue has not been even-handed since the state of Israel was created by the United Nations half a century ago;
  • The US government does not seem to indicate that it can see, or fully see, the pain felt for decades by Muslims and Arabs who empathize with the predicament of the Palestinians and that this pain contributed to the behavior of the terrorists (a teacher preferred to use the term “so-called terrorists”);
  • The possibility that the US government will address the root causes at some later stage remains, or Americans will ask “What acts did we do in the last decades that contributed to the problem?”
  • The US government’s actions (“bully” was the label used by a teacher) belong to the same violence mindset as the terrorists’;
  • The bombing of Afghanistan increases the pain of the Muslim world, and may be exacerbating the problem;
  • Belief in violence sanctioned or justified by religion (or God) is dangerous for the overall security of the planet; and
  • It is likely that the terrorists’ choice of targets reflect their judgment of the two evils of America: military power and financial power.

On the last point, I briefly put on my “resource person hat” to say – heuristically again – that ascribing a judgment to an external actor is classified as an act of describing or estimating facts and, therefore, proper during the inquiry phase.

Finally, in the decision phase, we concluded that:

  • All parties should learn how to respect each other, no matter how different are their beliefs;
  • Reflecting on your own beliefs and mindsets is an important skill for teachers and for education; and
  • Reflective individuals are essential in learning organizations.

That brings us back to the third symbol, the mirror. According to the Japanese folk wisdom, the most powerful of the three is the power of self reflection and self knowledge. A man with the powers of the sword and diamond can be dangerous to others if he does not have the power of the third kind, the power of the mirror. The third power is not about winning. It is not about conquering someone else but yourself.

America is already the world superpower and a great financial power. We hope America will acquire more of the power of the third kind. On this may depend America’s moral leadership and our collective planetary fate as a secure and stable mosaic of civilizations.

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Practical KM Hints (#6)

January 22, 2009

Deliberate or conscious paradigm shifting (see Q8- Wanted: Workable Tools for Voluntary Paradigm Shifting”) is a KM skill. Here are some examples where this KM skill comes in:

  • Conscious paradigm shifting can be an outcome in generative dialogue (see “D19- Debate versus Discussion versus Dialogue”). Practical Hints for Learning Facilitators (#3) lists some guidelines for facilitators to help workshop participants reach the Stage 4 of generative dialogue.
  • When company executives are revising their business model or innovating new business models, they are actually changing their fundamental business assumptions — another example of conscious paradigm shifting. I gave an actual example in my presentation to the 10th Asia Pacific KM Conference in Hong Kong last December 2008 (see Slides 42-44 in “Service Innovation: some Philippine Trends and Experiences”). Green Spot Strategic Planning© is an example of strategic KM (see “D9- Strategic KM versus Operational KM”)
  • Conscious paradigm shifting requires one to “get out of one’s mental box” which depends on the skill of discovering one’s hidden assumptions. This is the same as the ability to work on/with your mental models, one of the five disciplines of a learning organization according to Peter Senge. CCLFI uses a simple group workshop exercise called “Get the Guava!” to help people do the latter. If you are interested in this exercise for non-commercial purposes, email me and I will send you a copy.
  • It is likely that you yourself have experienced a personal paradigm shift, but you did not label it as such. CCLFI has group workshop exercises such as “My Peak Life Experience” to identify, recover and study these important episodes in one’s learning journey through life.

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Q8- Wanted: Workable Tools for Voluntary Paradigm Shifting

January 20, 2009

Today — the inauguration of President Barack Hussein Obama — is a big day for the people of the United States of America; many people including me are proud of them. The big event today started in 1954… but let us back up a bit first.

This quotation from Gregory Bateson summarizes the previous blogpost (Q7- We Found the Enemy: Our Own Concepts!?)

      “The major problems in the world are the result of the difference between the way nature works and the way man thinks.”

We have a big problem: it takes so long for mankind to change the way it thinks on important issues:


It took more than half a century to get the American people to where they are today from Rosa Park’s refusal to give up her bus seat to a white man in Montgomery City, Alabama — a landmark refusal that dramatically initiated the Civil Rights Movement in the US.

Notice that two factors result to very long periods of time to change people’s thinking about important things: (1) institutionalized vested interests and/or (2) institutionalized rules to prevent members from thinking freely. The technical jargon for important changes in people’s thinking is “paradigm shift” from Thomas Kuhn’s “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions”. The religious jargon is “conversion” or “metanoia” (=from Greek word that means fundamental change in thinking). Equivalent laymen terms are “change in perspective”, “reframing” or “Aha! experience”.

Notice too that the data above shows that it takes about one average human lifetime to change how people think. So, does this suggest that you do not change how people think; you WAIT for them to die off?

Is there a faster way? We need workable tools for voluntary and conscious paradigm shifting. We need them ASAP (=as soon as possible)! The longer we wait, the more social costs (=human sufferings) accumulate.

Or, the longer we wait, the more people will forego enjoyment of benefits that would result from paradigm shifts. This was my motive when I wrote the book “99 Paradigm Shifts for Survival in the Knowledge Economy: a Knowledge Management Reader.” You can download the e-book for free from the CCLFI website.

How else can we help people undergo desirable paradigm shifts? Do you have other ideas to offer? What tools are on hand to help people change their thinking for the better?

Please share.

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Value Added of KM over ICT, HRD and QM (#5)

January 19, 2009

Clients often ask: what is the value added of KM over ICT (information and communication technologies), HRD (human resource development) and/or QM (quality management)?

My response is based on the previous post (Q7- We Found the Enemy: Our Own Concepts!?).

I showed the following PowerPoint slide to the Executive Committee of a food conglomerate. My objective was to show in one picture how KM can integrate three SLICES of corporate reality: the human resource (HR) development slice, the information and communication technology (ICT) slice and the quality management (QM) slice.


You can use this slide for non-commercial purposes but please give CCLFI acknowledgement each time you show or use it. CCLFI is the KM, OL (=organizational learning) and KBD (=knowledge-based development) advocacy, training and consulting organization I belong to.


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Q7- We Found the Enemy: Our Own Concepts!?

January 19, 2009

Let us do a thought experiment (Gedanken Experiment).

      One day, I visited a forest. With me are four friends: an entomologist, a logger, a civil engineer and an ethnographer. The entomologist proceeded to examine many varieties of insects hiding in the cracks of trees’ barks and underneath fallen leaves. He starts to tell everyone stories about each kind of insect he discovers. The logger is not listening because he was busy mentally estimating the commercial volume and market value of a tree in front of him based on its diameter-at-breast-height. He was also estimating the timber density of this forest. The civil engineer was looking elsewhere: at the elevation, slopes and the flow rate and drop of a nearby small waterfall. He wanted to estimate how many kilowatts a micro-hydro power generator can produce from the waterfall. The ethnographer was a bit disappointed. She could not find anything interesting in the forest so she just observed the behavior of her companions and asked them a few questions.

What is happening here? The entomologist, logger, civil engineer and ethnographer are each seeing different things. Their individual academic trainings, experiences and habits are boxing in how they see the world around them. They see only their own familiar SLICES of the real world. No one is looking at the entire forest!

In the previous blogpost(Q6- KM for development: a triple(?) bottom line?), I have no doubt the Philippine Government and the World Bank hired the best engineers. The engineers who conceived and designed the Chico River Dam project where doing their darn best. But engineers are not trained in sociology or cultural anthropology or ecology. They were trained well to look elsewhere. So they missed and failed to anticipate social and cultural costs of the project. The engineers, the Philippine Government, the World Bank, the soldiers sent to the area by the Philippine Government, etc. were not our enemies. Our common enemy was the wrong development model or the purely engineering framework (a SINGLE-SLICE framework) for viewing a hydroelectric power plant project.

Every one of us is making choices we think are best for the situation we are in, given our individual worldviews and value systems. Don’t you think so? Do you agree that the Hamas, given their viewpoints and values, are making decisions they think are the best? Do you also agree that the Israeli cabinet, given their viewpoints and values, are making decisions they think are the best?

After 178 nations learned and woke up from the terrible costs of development disasters, and adopted the principle of sustainable development, they are also making decisions they think are best or at least better than those based on earlier development models. Sustainable development is a THREE-SLICE framework (see Q6- KM for development: a triple? bottom line). So now, sixteen years after the Rio Summit, sustainable development has become the mainstream development model. With sustainable development, have we finally vanquished our enemy, namely, wrong or incomplete development framework?

Wait. Let us not quickly jump to the conclusion that we have found THE final solution. In blogpost F15 (“Our Development Concepts may be THE Problem”), I showed data hinting at the possibility that even sustainable development may not be THE perfect development model. So our real enemy may be OUR OWN cherished beliefs about development.

Please allow me to repeat what I said in the introduction to this Q Series.

In the movie “Men in Black,” Kay (played by Tommy Lee Jones) told Jay (played by Will Smith):

      “Fifteen hundred years ago everybody knew the Earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, everybody knew the Earth was flat, and fifteen minutes ago, you knew that humans were alone on this planet. Imagine what you’ll know tomorrow.”

Our beliefs about the world keep changing. Chances are, our beliefs today are not final; something better will be discovered in the future. KM guru Ikujiro Nonaka defined “knowledge” as “justified belief that increases an entity’s capacity for effective action.” And so, our knowledge is exactly that: beliefs. Tomorrow, better beliefs or assumptions can replace our current beliefs if the former justifiably work better or they help us produce the results we say we want. So, we should not get stuck in “right-and-wrong” thinking or “I-am-always-right” thinking, but try to replace it with “what-could-work-better” thinking.

Peter Senge said that in a truly learning organization, members are skilled in being aware, in re-examining or testing and if needed, in revising their mental models (=assumptions or beliefs).

I wonder, what could be the development model 100 years from now? 1000 years from now? (assuming the human race is still around).

What belief could be the common enemy of Hamas and Israel? What belief could work better?

Do you have any thoughts on this? Please go ahead and share it with the 700-800 visitors per week of this blogsite (click the Comment link below).

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Q6- KM for Development: a Triple(?) Bottom Line

January 18, 2009

The Chico River Dam proposed in 1973 in the northern Philippines with World Bank funding was a famous development disaster. The 1000 MW hydroelectric dam would have submerged large areas of Bontoc and Kalinga ethnic ancestral lands, including burial grounds and sites sacred and valuable to the cultural communities. It generated massive local and international opposition. Martial Law President Marcos sent in soldiers. Many died including tribal leader Macli-ing Dulag. The social crisis gave ammunition to the insurgent New Peoples Army. It united the traditionally warring ethnic groups in the Cordillera mountain ranges and triggered the organization of the Cordillera Peoples Liberation Army. After the famous 1986 “People Power Revolution” threw out President Marcos, the next President Cory Aquino completely stopped the project. So much was lost in terms of money, lives and goodwill of the people on the Manila government.

KM is learning from mistakes.

Similar development disasters all over the world led the World Bank to adopt “Safeguard Policies” to protect third parties from negative impacts of development projects (lower right box in the figures in the previous blogpost Q5- Market value and/or? development value). In 1978, the Philippine Government adopted a law requiring Environmental Impact Assessments prior to approval of big projects. The Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of the Philippines requires free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) from communities that would be affected by a project, to avoid, minimize and/or compensate for social and cultural costs [thanks to Ann Lily Uvero for pointing this out]. Finally, in the 1992 Rio Summit, 178 nations adopted Agenda 21 which enshrined “sustainable development” among the universal development values of mankind.

But a lesson has not been learned by the last two Philippine presidents: that military solutions to social conflicts do not work. So the killing continues: killing of people and killing of the goodwill of their kins and communities.

Learning has been slow and costly.

Let us reproduce the diagram in the previous blogpost (Q5- Market value and/or? development value), but replace “enterprise” with “project.”


The social and environmental costs (lower right box) do not enter into project accounts, and therefore they are not part of Go-No Go and other project decisions. This is another example of sub-optimization we saw in the previous blog. It is the source of social conflicts because people who suffer the external costs and who do not enjoy the project benefits will oppose the project.

The lesson is this: development of infrastructure/economic capital should not proceed at the expense of social capital and natural capital, and vice versa — this is the essence, stated in KM language, of sustainable development adopted at the Rio Summit in 1992. It asserts that a purely economic or financial bottom line is dangerous; we must adopt a “triple bottom line” embracing the economic, social and natural value domains.

Does this make sense to you? Tell us what you think (use the Comments link below).

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