"We can no longer compete on the cost of labor with countries
like China," said Olivetti chief Carlo De Benedetti. "What we
have to leverage is our know-how."
Right on. Unfortunately, we don't know how to do it.
Seventeen thousand Price Waterhouse consultants and
accountants are using Notes, Lotus Development's new work-group
technology system, CIO magazine reports. But most applications of
the software have been mundane. Why? "Fostering the shared
work-group vision that lies behind Notes has proved elusive,"
reporter Thomas Kiely concluded.
Devising the right sticks and carrots is the issue, said
Sheldon Laube, the $3.8 billion firm's national director of
information and technology. The following question must be
answered affirmatively by a cast of thousands: "Was it worth
their time to enter information _ for someone else's benefit _ on
the gamble that somewhere down the road information would appear
in Notes that is useful to them?"
Laube has sidestepped this issue so far and settled for
practical uses of the system. Case in point, per CIO: "A banking
consultant in Washington picks up regulatory gossip, and sensing
an opportunity, broadcasts a message to the 200 or more Price
Waterhouse banking consultants throughout the nation, who
immediately broach the subject with their clients." That boils
down to an e-mail use of Notes, according to MIT Professor Wanda
Orlikowski, who's studied Price Waterhouse. "It isn't the same
thing as collaboratively working together on a joint project,"
Brook Manville, co-director of information and technology at
consultants McKinsey Co., understands the distinction
Orlikowski makes. He's also overseeing a major implementation of
Notes _ but McKinsey's avowed emphasis is fundamental
transformation of the company's professional practice.
McKinsey has typically thrown very bright, energetic folks at
a client project. Manville calls it the "we're smarter than
everyone else and that's enough to maintain our advantage"
strategy. But competitors are catching up. McKinsey's next step,
according to Manville, is to leverage its collective experience
by systematically developing and sharing institutional
Knowledge development at McKinsey orbits around 30-odd
"practice centers" _ voluntary, virtual communities of
consultant-specialists who offer their expertise to colleagues.
Getting these centers to view knowledge development in marketing
terms is the first step. …