In 2002 I conducted a KM workshop for top executives of a government think-tank. All the Vice Presidents and the President were there. Most of the Division Directors were present. This think-tank does not receive annual appropriations from the national government; it survives by winning and implementing projects, running a conference facility, conducting training programs (including a masteral program) and renting out office space. They are a government organization yet they operate like a business corporation. There are years when this organization was “on the red.”
They are staffed by a wide range of dedicated experts in a wide variety of fields. They lead in innovating new government programs. They provide a good training-learning ground for upwardly-mobile development professionals: many of their program and project managers move on to high-paying positions in the government, in local and international development institutions and in the private sector.
I wanted to provide them a workshop experience that, firstly, impresses on them that KM to support core business processes is high-value KM. I wanted to show this to them in a concrete way linked to their workplace experiences.
After a brief lecture on what the term “knowledge” means in KM and what “knowledge management” is, I asked them the first question: “What is your core business process?”
The answer was unanimous and quick: “project management.” Many will agree with me that this government think-tank is indeed very knowledgeable and experienced in managing projects and in teaching project management.
My second question was: “What is your second most important business process?”
The answers were slower in coming and there were many different answers. Apparently, there is no consensus among them on what is their second most important business process. But more importantly, NO ONE mentioned a business process that in my judgment is another core business process: negotiating and winning project contracts. The alternative technical terms for this business process are “project contract negotiation” or “project development” or “project marketing” etc.
I told them: “No matter how good you are in project management, if you fail in contract negotiations you will have fewer projects to manage.”
Next I asked: “Who among you participated in successful contract negotiation during the last five years?” Almost everyone raised their hand.
I then formed them into small workshop groups. Their workshop task was simple and easy: From your experiences, list down what worked well (or what were the success factors) in successfully negotiating project contracts.
After each workshop group leader reported their group’s results to the plenary session, we discussed and consolidated all the results. The results can be summarized in one letter-size page. The participants were proud and happy recalling and documenting how they successfully clinched project contracts, and they were satisfied with the summary.
In the end I said, “This one-page summary is high-value knowledge of what works in a business process critical for your future income growth or even financial survival. Re-use this knowledge and keep improving on it.”
The process is inexpensive: it took only about an hour of time of the top executives of this organization. The potential benefit: higher likelihood of clinching next project contracts.
Using the KM framework I described before (KM Framework or F Series) and the same color coding, here is the simple logic behind this inexpensive but high-value executive workshop:
What do you think? (Please use the “Leave a Comment” link below and write your feedback.)
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