Entovation International
Spain: How Quickly Can A Nation Come Up to Knowledge Speed?

Debra M. Amidon

Don't think that because there is not too much visibility on the knowledge management scene by a country is not bursting with insight and direction with the new agenda.

It is certainly not that Spain is without its documented intellectuals, nor its widely acclaimed explorers and adventurers - Don Quixote being just one example, but in the world presence of knowledge strategy, Spain has been quiet about its accomplishments and aspirations…until now.

In only 9 short months, a focus called Club Intelect - led by Mr. Eduardo Bueno Campos, President, Euroforum has been able to provide an intellectual and social nexus for dialogue on the topic.

Already, the consortium boasts over 34 members, including notable leaders such as IBM, KPMG, Siemens, Microsoft, Ericsson, Coca-Cola, Hay Group, HP, Indra Systems, Telefonica and more.

Upon invitation from Dr. Jose Gasalla, located on the Global Knowledge Leadership Map, I provided three presentations for the membership: "La Economade Valor Inyangible," "Creanao una Estrategia de Innovacion de Conocimientos," and "Visualizanaos las Oportunidades en la Econimia del Conocimiento." Now, it is interesting that there would be such an interest in the first place; and that the depth of their interest in the topic was significant. But in addition, the hundreds of slides that were used in the presentation were translated into Spanish within a week to optimize receptivity of the audience an optimize dialogue. This was impressive and rather unusual!

The conference also had local representation providing updates on the activity of Spain with the OECD. Dr. Paloma Sanchez, Professor of Applied Economics, Autonomous University of Madrid, discussed the efficiency of capital markets. She described the activities of the advisory committee and their search for the proper methodology for their research. She and her peers understand fundamentally the need to integrate what have previously been SEPARATE indicators for innovation and knowledge/learning. She outlined the plans to rise these opportunities at the upcoming meeting scheduled in Amsterdam. She is realistic in the need to be realistic in what they can measure; but passionate about the need to be measuring the right things!

Eduardo Bruno outlined the plans for research which include:
1. Analyze what the member companies are doing in terms of Intellectual Capital and Knowledge Management.
2. Provide case analysis - examples of how knowledge management strategies can be implemented with empirical data.
3. Comparative studies where new indicators of performance are being used.

More important, he sketched the strategy for Club Intelect to be visible in a number of local, national and global forums: 9th Annual Conference of the Scientific Board of Economics; the 19th Annual Meeting of the Strategic Management Society in Berlin; the Latin American Congress in Madrid, etc.

These locations provide opportunities to share their progress and learn simultaneously from other nation efforts. And then there will be the summer course at EuroForum itself at El Escorial, Spain - the residential executive development facility.

In another presentation, the local leadership of BankInter provided a case study example. Maria Calvo, Directora Equipo Gestion del Conocimiento, described their journey - a successful one, I might add - with a focus on knowledge and innovation. By integrating the foci on people and technology, the company has successfully evolve the culture. With participation rates of 76%, they appear to be tapping into the imagination of their employees.

Everyone is learning with - what they call - the 'Olympiad of Ideas.'

Club Intelect has also produced an impressive series of publications, which provide a detailed survey of the literature, and models with which companies are experimenting. In fact, in the December 1998 'Boletin de Informacion,' there is an outline of the model that is evolving form the research itself which can provide guidance for companies instituting such programs. The 'Medicion del Capital Intellectual - Mode Intelect' provides even more detail and includes a detailed bibliography. A third compilation is entitled 'Direction Estrategica por Competencias Basicas Distintivas:

Propuesta de un Modelo.' Our recommendation is that these publications would be of value to any countries with Spanish-speaking heritage. Contact Pilar Rodriguez Jerico for further details.

The awakening for me came near the end of the day with a question from the audience: "Please explain the difference between Intellectual Capital, Learning Organization and Knowledge Management!" Now, I know this is very confusing for many that only have access to the material within their particular function, company, industry or region of the world. However, the question for me crystallized my own understanding of the three sub-streams of the knowledge movement - the focus on financial capital, social capital and technological capital. Now, we have a Ph.D. thesis on the topic and soon we will release the results of theorists and practitioners in each of the three domains. Stay tuned…

In short, Spain may be a bit late to the national visibility scene; but they more than make up for it in terms of the quality produced in a short period of time. Their worldwide leadership is immanent. They provide an excellent example of how a nation CAN harness the intellectual resources and drive a vision swiftly to take advantage of the opportunities the knowledge economy affords. Then lesson, however, is that it should not be left to serendipity.

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Reprinted from I3 Update - 29.