Hitting the target How to make communities of practice

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Hitting the target How to make communities of practice Powered By Docstoc
					                                                                                            Volume 10 Issue 9   June 2007




                 Incorporating Enterprise Information magazine




  Hitting the target
  How to make communities of practice work
CASE REPORT              MASTERCLASS             NEWS UPDATE                          THE KNOWLEDGE
Jerry Ash investigates   Patti Anklam examines   New KM leader at KPMG US...          Sam Marshall reveals
how Fluor coordinates    the ins and outs of     David Gurteen says 'just do it'...   the key to making
communities of 13,000.   network management.     plus the latest events...            collaboration work.
20     Case report




     Fluor




     Connecting
     people
     Fluor is a serial award-winner for its knowledge-management
     systems. Jerry Ash examines the strategy that has made Fluor
     such a famous name in KM.




     W
                       hether self-selecting or   past 100 years, Fluor has become a          employees
                       handpicked, a community    global leader in providing services         find written
                       of practice (CoP) often    and technical knowledge in five main        practices, procedures,
                       creates a new version      areas – oil and gas, industrial and         templates, job aids and even career-
     of the corporate silo – a virtual silo.      infrastructure, government, global          path information. Likewise, they can
     Topic, subject matter, location, purpose,    services and power. Its products and        connect with experts and engage in
     educational background, choice, social       services include designing and building     discussion forums to address real-world
     mores, bias and many other factors           factories, refineries, pharmaceutical       project challenges in real time. It is
     determine the composition and character      facilities, power plants, telecoms and      both a repository and a place for virtual
     of a typical community. Some are             transportation infrastructures.             communities and communication.
     subtly skewed, others appear like gated                                                      John McQuary, vice president and
     communities. Indeed, some are virtually      Competition requires corporate KM           knowledge management (KM) lead
     estranged from the greater community.        The nature of Fluor’s business, not         at Fluor, says the company neither
          Hence, CoPs can be as limited as        to mention the globally competitive         commands nor cajoles employees to
     the silos they are intended to transcend.    market in which it operates, drove          participate in the Knowledge OnLine
     It is, therefore, not often you find a       the need for knowledge sharing and          system or to join communities therein.
     company with a true, open, enterprise-       collaboration across the organisation       “But it would be very hard for them to
     wide, inter-disciplinary knowledge-          and across boundaries, resulting in a       perform their work without accessing
     sharing system that really works.            company-driven KM programme.                the system,” he says.
          But at Fluor, staff anywhere in the         That’s right; it’s an open knowledge-
     world, in any unit or function can log       sharing system, but constructed, owned      Top down; no apologies
     on and have access to corporate-wide         and managed by the company – quite          Transforming the corporate culture
     content, experts, discussion forums and      contrary to those who believe that          into one in which knowledge-sharing
     more. They only have to be a member          knowledge-sharing cannot be managed,        is done naturally – and globally – is
     of the greater Fluor community.              least of all from the top.                  hard work, says McQuary. “You do
          With 40,000 employees in 25                 Well, think again. Almost all of        have to maintain some flexibility, but
     countries on six continents, Fluor           Fluor’s professional employees (21,000)     you also have to remain firm in what
     is one of the largest publicly traded        are members of Fluor’s knowledge            you are trying to achieve, and you have
     engineering, procurement, construction,      communities. There are 43 online            to remain true to the core values and
     maintenance and project-management           communities that are part of the Fluor      fundamentals of your knowledge-
     companies in the world. Over the             Knowledge OnLine system. In them,           management programme.”
                                                                                                               www.ikmagazine.com        21




    The goals of the knowledge                   At Fluor there is a central KM team           Each community also has a
management programme and culture            of seven, but only two are assigned            knowledge-manager responsible for
need to be clearly supportive of the        full-time to KM. Those two maintain            maintaining the content and people
core business, he adds. “Unfortunately,     the technology platform for Knowledge          connections through the online
there are too many failed                        OnLine, the centerpiece of the            community. Like the community leaders
                                                       enterprise-wide KM system.          and central staff, KM responsibilities
                                                           The rest are part-time.         are either part of the job description
                                                              Other team members           or fulfilled by volunteers. In total, there
                                                                focus on improving         are 200+ people globally providing
                                                                  community                explicit support for what looks like a
                                                                   performance and         corporately managed system.
                                                                    communications.
                                                                     McQuary himself       Member’s eye view
                                                                      splits his time      The top down structure provides an
                                                                       between the         enterprise-wide framework. Beyond that,
                                                                       KM programme        the challenge is to make sure the structure
                                                                       and technology      and the content of online resources and
                                                                       strategies.         communities are based on a ‘member’s
                                                                           The central     eye view’ – that is, seeing everything from
                                                                     KM staff are          the perspective of the user.
                                                                    the enablers, the          Something may make sense while
                                                                   architects and global   self-contained in one community, but
                                                                 managers of the           from a member’s eye view (and across
                                                                system. But the system     the enterprise), it can be confusing.
                                                             itself is truly global,       “A good example is an experience
                                                           not only in scope, but in       we had with our administration
attempts                                               process, too.                       community. The group identified
at KM where                                            The majority of the 43 global       subject-matter experts (SMEs) in three
the programme was                           knowledge-communities fall into two            areas – department administration,
given to a consultant to implement,         categories – functional and business           executive administration and project
technology was thrown at the problem,       line. Functional communities represent         management,” says McQuary.
or the organisation was not committed       the project-execution functions and                Within the administration
to the leadership requirements and          departments, such as engineering, project      community, these categories made a lot
cultural change necessary for success,”     controls, procurement and project              of sense, but from an enterprise-wide
says McQuary.                               management. Business-line community            perspective, project-management SMEs
     Even if the organisation does not      examples include upstream oil and gas,         would be identified in the project-
fall into this common trap, trying to       life sciences, and mining and metals.          management community. “What the
create an enterprise-wide knowledge-             The global excellence leader for          administration community was really
sharing culture is still challenging. For   each function also fills the role of           identifying was experts in project
a start, global scale requires global       a community leader. The leader’s               administration,” adds McQuary.
leadership and that begins at the           responsibilities include maintaining               To coordinate activity, the enterprise-
corporate level, while the focus radiates   a global people network, defining              wide system is supported from a
throughout the company and down to          the practices and procedures for               corporate level that includes a core group
every desktop.                              the function, defining career paths,           of common capabilities, such as content
     In addition, knowledge management      choosing software and maintaining a            management, discussion forums and
activity has to connect and be in tune      functional development-forum to help           member profiles. Member profiles are
with the critical success factors of        individuals advance in their careers.          members’ opportunity to share knowledge
the organisation, while helping staff            The business-line communities each        about themselves, helping to connect
do their jobs better. Fluor, like many      have a leader who is an executive within       people to people and their expertise.
other knowledge-driven companies,           the business line, often the business-line         Each community is configured
recognises that the purpose of a            manager. Thus, the management and              and launched using a team of
KM system is to get better results by       knowledge leadership of the company            representatives for the community
managing intellectual capital.              are both parallel and interconnected.          working with the central KM team.
22   Case report




                                                                                                   “Experience convinced us we
     Telling tales                                                                             would need to cross business lines and
     This is one of the winning stories submitted by a Fluor employee during its annual        regional boundaries. But if the KM
     ‘Knowvember’ KM awareness campaign.                                                       effort was perceived to be a California
          Title: Access to alternatives via Knowledge OnLine saves E1m total installed cost    or even US-based initiative, our global
     (TIC) and gets Fluor awarded new contract!                                                roll-out would have met resistance,”
          Description: This success story encapsulates the key values of knowledge             says McQuary. “By launching each
     management: global collaboration, client value, re-use and competitive                    new community on a global basis, and
     differentiation, made possible by Knowledge OnLine. Allowed client to make                bringing the launch message to just the
     informed decision, saved total installed cost and led to new work order.                  community audience, we were able to
          Success Story: I worked on a process study in Kuwait for dehazing of diesel          establish enterprise buy-in by engaging
     and gas oil to meet the Haze-2 specification at 77°C. Roughly said, this meant            only that part of the workforce the
     reducing the water content from 1000 parts per million by volume (ppmv) at                community will directly support.”
     135°F [Fahrenheit] to 100 ppmv at 77°C. The client-design basis was to use an                 However, with open access to all
     electrostatic coalescer and salt-bed drier with a water cooled chiller, to pre-cool the   communities, enterprise-wide, the
     coalescer feed to 105°F.                                                                  emphasis on knowledge sharing is
          On Knowledge OnLine, we found the salt-bed drier manual. This manual provided        crucial. Content has to be scrutinised
     valuable information. Among other things, it recommended maintaining an operating         to ensure that it makes sense in
     temperature in the salt-bed drier at or below 100°F to restrict brine solubility in       the crossovers to the wider global
     diesel. Via the Process Community forum we asked for designing and operating              community. Such scrutiny ensures
     experience with the proposed electrostatic coalescer/salt-bed drier design, the effect    that Fluor’s KM system is not just a
     of operating temperature on the degree of drying, experience with alternative drying      blackhole – sucking up information, yet
     processes and advice on the most economical design solution for the given capacity:       releasing very little in return.
     coalescer/salt bed drier or vacuum drying.                                                    One of the roles of the central KM
          Within three days, three responses where received, from Haarlem [Netherlands]        team is to help communities resolve
     and the Calgary [Canada] offices. They provided project references/contacts for each      communication issues they would not
     of the different design options considered. The information underlined the strong         otherwise have sensed. KM hierarchy,
     effect of operating temperature on salt-bed efficiency: at too high an operating          in other words, can be a good thing.
     temperature the efficiency of the salt bed is eliminated by the brine solubility in       “An enterprise-wide approach means we
     diesel. This insight was confirmed by vendor information: “The dynamics of the salt       can leverage ideas across communities
     bed is such that it is only 30-35 per cent efficient and at higher temperature the        and provide some top down direction.
     water simply partitions back into the diesel stream.”                                     That wouldn't be possible if CoPs were
          Based on this information and project references, our recommendations to the         created on an ad hoc basis.”
     client were to pre-cool the diesel/GO feed to 60°F with a chiller before being sent           “This year, we introduced a
     to the coalescer and to eliminate the salt-bed drier. The Fluor recommendation was        community-audit process. This leverages
     recognised by the client as a positive improvement. Knowledge OnLine allowed the          existing discipline audit-processes and
     client to make an informed decision in favour of the new concept for the Dehazing         tools resulting in minimal organisational
     Facility design. Based on the information from Knowledge OnLine, the client asked         pushback. It involves an interview using
     to visit one of the project references mentioned: an existing refinery. This visit was    a detailed checklist over six major areas
     arranged through the Haarlem office and is now planned for next month.                    – organisation, performance, structure,
          Value for the client: The elimination of the salt-bed drier saved the client         content, communication, recognition
     money on equipment cost (TIC reduced by U1m) and operational cost. In addition,           and innovation. Preventative and
     elimination of the salt bed drier will save a lot of maintenance hassle in future.        corrective actions are documented and
          Value for Fluor: Client satisfaction: The client is positive about the alternative   resulting actions are tracked through
     design solution proposed by the Fluor team. They were impressed by the short              completion.”
     response time, the quick access of our team to Fluor’s worldwide knowledge and
     expertise and the new possibilities it opened (for example, the client visit to an        Communication strategy
     operating facility).                                                                      Just as Fluor’s KM structure is both
          Our client is so pleased that a new work-order has been awarded to Fluor: a          centralised and dispersed through
     similar study for the other refinery of the client. This study represents a business      community networks, it focuses on
     value of U700,000. Once the feed package is approved, to carry out the job would          communication at both an enterprise-
     even fetch a much higher value for Fluor.                                                 wide and a knowledge-community
                                                                                               level, too. An internal-communications
                                                                                                                www.ikmagazine.com        23




team, which includes two professionals,      performance should be the measure.            which is, “We will continue to build
provides expert assistance at both levels.   Fluor has a few communities of that           methods to capture, share and apply
    “Not all messages are equal,” says       size, but most of them are 1,000+.            our knowledge to deliver customer
senior communications manager Tara           Indeed, the Engineering Community             solutions”. These commitments come
Keithley. “Knowing and segmenting            has more than 13,000 members. But             with expectations and the KM team still
audiences is key, as well as knowing         like in a physical town, the overall          has to deliver persuasive results. The
what type of communication vehicle           structure of a community enables the          team relies on statistics to show the
resonates with each audience segment.”       informal clustering of small groups.          volume of activity, as well as success
    At the enterprise level, Fluor has a     You might call them neighbourhoods            stories to demonstrate value to Fluor’s
number of different approaches, the most     – sub-specialties within a community;         management and its customers.
prominent of which is the Knowledge          people who have come together to
OnLine login screen, updated twice a         collaborate on a specific project; clusters   Breaking the rules
week with relevant KM-related news and       of knowledge seekers and sharers who          After 20 years of intense thought,
stories. Also, Fluor tries to encourage      have gained from the give-and-take of         study, research, experimentation and
participation in a variety of different      sharing; people who find themselves           applied learnings, there still appears
ways, including specialised publications     together in multiple communities – small      to be few absolute rules behind the
for different target audiences:              self-forming groups within the formal         methods of KM. As soon as a standard
                                             structure that eventually contribute          of practice begins to emerge through
   KM Network newsletter – Aimed             to it. The Knowledge OnLine                   frequency of use and agreement of
   at community leaders and managers;        system supports this kind of natural          thought, someone breaks the rule
   'Share This Knowledge' executive          networking with people connections,           with a success based on opposite
   newsletter – Focuses on KM at an          including instant messaging.                  or modified behaviour.
   executive level and is, therefore, sent        Face-to-face meetings on a global            From Fluor, we can conclude that
   to the executive management-team;         scale may be impossible in a CoP of           top-down design, implementation and
   TimeSavers – Provides tips and            13,000 members, but local informal            management of an enterprise-wide
   tricks on using the KM system and         gatherings have real possibilities.           KM programme can produce spirited
   is sent to all registered members of      Otherwise, face-to-face global meetings       participation. Virtual communities
   Knowledge OnLine (21,000);                would be limited to business-line leaders     larger than 300 can stimulate personal
   KM knowledge-community                    who routinely get together annually for       involvement. Stories can overcome the
   homepage – To help non-members            other issues, and functional leaders who      metric mindset of traditional accounting.
   ease themselves into the system;          may meet every two or three years.                It’s all about how you play the game.
    ‘Just in Time’ e-mail shots – These           Personalising network activity,          McQuary’s team uses corporate leverage
   generally include a ‘trackable            therefore, depends heavily on human           where necessary. Communication to
   component’ to gauge how many              initiative supported by the people            multiple and layered audiences delivers
   people actually open the e-mail;          connections Fluor provides.                   the right messages in the right places.
   Teleconferences;                               Many KM programmes fall when             And metrics work where things can be
   Fluor intranet articles.                  cold, hard return on investment               measured, while stories are effective
                                             figures are demanded to support the           where outcomes are not just un-
    In addition, there is an annual          investment of time and money – figures        measurable, but immeasurable.
‘Knowvember’ awareness campaign that         that are hard to quantify accurately              What is measurable, however, is
includes a success-story contest with        enough for any accountant’s liking.           Fluor’s success as a company in a highly
an executive-judging component, as           While Fluor is not as insistent on KM         technical and competitive global market.
well as the culmination of a year long       metrics as many other organisations, the      KM has arguable played a significant
‘KM Pacesetter’ award where employees        programme does have to show value.            part in that success.
can be nominated by their peers for          It helps that its core values fit one of
exemplifying good KM behaviour.              the four company values – teamwork
                                             – which means Fluor people must,              Jerry Ash is KM coach, founder of the
Care in the community                        “Respect each other’s perspective, and        Association of Knowledgework, http://www.
In the KM field, one school of thought       share knowledge and resources to              kwork.org. Join AOK to participate in a two-
is that to be effective in creating a        achieve excellence, deliver value, and        week e-mail discussion with John McQuary,
sense of community a group should            grow individually and collectively”.          20-31 August, 2007. Membership is free.
be no larger than 200 or 300 members.             These values are supported by            John McQuary can be reached at
McQuary contends that actual                 six main guiding principles, one of           John.McQuary@Fluor.com.