Jan16

Lessons From a Wise Cat

Knowledge Sharing Image BlogTwo cats race up a flight of stairs and make a sharp turn, where a large open space sits beneath a single handrail. One plunges through the open space and falls to the ground floor underneath. The other, keen to avoid his brother’s fate, screeches to a halt in front of the opening, just in time to avoid a similar misfortune. Ever since, he navigates the open space with care…as does cat number one, who landed on his feet and was no worse for wear following his inglorious fall.

Learning from the experience of others takes place all around us, from silly things to those more serious, from the animal kingdom and our four-legged friends to our bipedal colleagues and companions.

Nine months ago, my Knowledge Management partner in crime Rhiannon Preston posted a blog on the role of the Global Knowledge Management team and our remit to take the information and experience residing in our collective Ogilvy minds and transfer this into portals that can be tapped into by our colleagues.

The role of knowledge management was introduced to the Asia Pacific region in late 2013, responsible for fostering a closer community within the Ogilvy CommonHealth Asia Pacific health practices. With its mix of developed and emerging healthcare markets, the Asia Pacific region prizes knowledge transfer, both for the opportunity to learn from global communities as well as for the ability to share our own stories.

Part of knowledge management involves the transfer of facts—brands worked on or pitched for, therapeutic areas of expertise, metrics from successful campaigns. This information is easily captured and stored in databases, ready to be of use to the next person in need. In our increasingly digital world, knowledge is actually more accessible than ever—or rather, data is.

But it is the ability to draw insights from data that gives knowledge its true power and meaning. What is less tangible but perhaps more valuable than the data are the lessons learnt from each experience: which pitfalls to avoid, which gaps to avoid plunging through headfirst. This will be one of my aims for the Global Knowledge Management team in 2015: to go beyond making information and experiences available, to turning them into meaningful lessons that guide our colleagues. For those of us less disposed to landing on our feet after a tumble, this could prove rather useful indeed.

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Apr1

Knowledge Management

knowledge is powerIgnoring the fact that Australia is a very long way from the UK and that I have an intense fear of spiders, snakes and sharks, I recently took a trip Down Under.  My Aussie mates (actually mostly British ex-pats but all of whom have developed that distinct accent of turning every statement into a question) persuaded me I was due a visit. Admittedly, I hadn’t needed much convincing, with the reminder that the food is delicious, the beer is cold and the sun nearly always shines.

My first few days in Sydney were easily occupied with zipping around the city on the superb ferry network, photographing sharks in the impressive aquarium, and seizing the opportunity to swim in the ocean. Having left behind a rather soggy Britain, it was heavenly to be in the sunshine with flip-flops (or “thongs” to our Australia colleagues) on my feet and no need for a warm coat or an umbrella.

Midway through my trip, I had arranged to visit Ogilvy CommonHealth in Sydney to meet with Muriel Wang. Along with David Chapman, Muriel and I form a global team dedicated to the management of knowledge, called Global Knowledge Management.

What is knowledge management and why is it important? Knowledge is a key asset for any organisation, but in our knowledge-intensive world, it is necessary to be able to cut through the noise. Knowledge management is the process of capturing, organising, sharing and effectively using organisational knowledge.

Obviously the starting point for knowledge is data. Whilst data can be easily stored, knowledge, intelligence, learning and wisdom reside in the heads of people. A sustainable knowledge management strategy creates an organisational memory, reducing the loss of know-how.

The value of knowledge management is better and faster decisions; by tapping into the experience of your colleagues around the world, you can avoid their mistakes, apply their solutions and make the right decision the first time. This is evidenced in our support of new business efforts, and as Muriel explained, “This is particularly relevant in Asia Pac, where products often launch later than in the US and Europe. Being able to learn from the experience of our global colleagues helps us to get a leg up on our competition, so to speak.”

In addition to improved decisions from facilitated access to expertise, knowledge management reduces “reinventing the wheel” and prevents loss of knowledge from changes in organisational structure and staff turnover. Client, brand and therapy experience can easily be forgotten if not documented, and our capture of this data into databases is proving invaluable in responding quickly to internal and external requests.

Knowledge management requires a collaborative culture and a shift from “I know” and “knowledge is owned” to “we know” and “knowledge is shared.” Global Knowledge Management meets regularly to share insights from each of our regions, and taking a brief interlude from my trip to Oz to pop into the Sydney office and meet with Muriel will no doubt enhance our global knowledge management collaboration going forward.

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