Entovation International
PDVSA – Foro Internacional Gerencia del Conocimiento
by Debra M. Amidon

We read about the opportunity for developing nations to leapfrog economically with a focus on knowledge strategy. The World Bank - in its 1998/99 World Development Report - affirms that "Peer countries differ from rich ones not only because they have less capital but because they have less knowledge." It continues, "And it is the lack of knowledge that causes markets to collapse, or never come into being…In short, knowledge gives people greater control over their destinies" True or not, it provides a foundation for an innovative path forward. Sometimes, this is all that is needed.

We also witness the challenge of worldwide leadership assumed by progressive managers in these developing nations (see Insights from Latin America). Alejandro Fernandez, Vice President of Human Resources, PDVSA (Caracas, Venezuela) serves as host for Global HR 1998 – 1000+ executives convened by the World Federation of Personnel Management Associations. But participation in the global forum is not enough to take the knowledge practices inside the company.

Enter Olimpia Salas - salaso@pdvsa.com - served as the architect of an in-house October knowledge congress commanding 450 senior executives and two dozen leading experts in the field from Latin America and abroad. Sessions ranged from keynotes to intensive workshops on topics, such as KM and the Convergence of the Media (Jonathan Levy), Implementing KM in a Global Organization (Kent Greenes), Crafting a Knowledge Innovation Strategy (Debra M. Amidon) and Tips, Tricks and Traps in Community Building (Richard McDermott).

Carla O’Dell led the keynote addresses in describing what the American Productivity and Quality Center (APQC) has learned about frameworks, KM approaches, examples in the Oil & Gas Industry and lessons learned. Using the Atlas as a metaphor, Debra M. Amidon described the new Knowledge Value Proposition and the migration from Business Planning to Knowledge Innovation Strategy. Elana Granell de Aldez, author of the 1998 book – Managing Culture for Success – was the winner of the Annual Prize given by CONICIT for the best scientific study in Social and Humanistic Studies. Her messages include the elements required by a knowledge management culture. Orlando Albornoz, winner of the 1997 Interamerican Educational Prize "Andres Bello" applied the knowledge management concepts to institutions of higher education, including messages about ‘hyperlearning and hypolearning in Higher Education and the Caribbean.

Cesar Pena Vigas, rector of the Universidad Tecnologica del Centro, outlined a new initiative and the success factors for entrepreneurs:

1. Innovation is a rotational axis for overall performance.
2. Adequate response to the learning requires response in an organized fashion.
3. Compensation for self-development is a strategy for growth.
4. Value of immediately available new knowledge – share fast to compete.
5. Teamwork is an energizing instrument for individual competencies.
6. Intellectual assets are conceived as a public mechanism – ‘stock market’ – for talent promotion and capitalization.

In 1997 this computerized performance system called Knownet, was based upon the model originally developed at PDVSA and was sold as a product in 1998 to the Spanish company, Meta4.

Alex Garcia, the manager of Competence Development for PDVSA’s Production Unit is currently in charge of the KM implementation for an organization with 20,000 employees and widespread geographic distribution. He described the needs for early wins and the lessons derived from the application of KM. He spoke of the need for support from top management, empowered motivation, proper allocation of resources, promotion of communities of practice (of which there were now 33), each associated with a value proposition. These communities are groupings of professionals with a common objective – to preserve expand and leverage widespread knowledge. The focus is on ‘better’ not ‘best’ practices. The goal of the Knowledge Guiding Team is to ensure that there are no knowledge islands. This enables faster adoption of the concepts and optimization of practices at the corporate level. He reported significant achievements already with this ‘knowledge alignment’ approach.

Numerous other experts from throughout Latin America offered their expertise in lectures, panels, exhibits and intensive workshops: Orlando Albornoz (Universidad de Central de Venezuela), Eleadoro Venticilla (DKV Asociados), Laskmit Yamaui (E&Y), Jesus Arape (Vision Grupo), Eilut (Lotus), Jose Albert (Meta4), Jose A. Natera (Xerox), Jorge Salles (Microsoft), Marcelo Hoffmann (SRI), Lair Ribeiro (Grupo Sintonia) and Luigi Valdes, author of Knowledge is Future. Silvard Kool and Debra M. Amidon continued their knowledge concert tour in a performance – "Viaje al Mundo del Coniciemento."

Closing the three-day conference was Oswaldo Contreras Maza, PDVSA Vice President of Shared Resources, who suggested that ‘change’ and ‘knowledge’ were just two sides of the same coin. "We learn to change and change to learn." Commenting on what he described as a timely and impeccable performance, he suggested that PDVSA be only at the start of the knowledge campaign. "These knowledge communities – technicians and professionals alike have developed complementary and core tactics and strategies with common commitment to triumph. We must visualize what lies beyond the horizon and take advantage of the opportunities. We educate for our own defense. We manage knowledge to stay and prevail."

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2000 ENTOVATION International. All rights reserved.
Reprinted from I3 Update