Leading Latin America -
PDVSA 4th International Knowledge Conference
by Debra M. Amidon
"Now, in the case
We were back in Caracas, Venezuela, for the 4th International Knowledge Conference; and one wonders whatever they might do for an encore?! It was the Oil & Gas industry that first adopted the knowledge focus as an industry in a London conference in 1997; but it was PDVSA - the quasi -governmental oil conglomerate, and largest employer for the country - who adopted it as early as 1999 as an integral business strategy.
We participated in the 1st International
Forum on Knowledge Management (Foro Internacional Gerencia del
Conocimiento) - http://www.entovation.com/gkp/pdvsa.htm
- where 450 of their senior executives convened for a week of activities
organized by Dr. Olimpia Salas. The substance and magic has continued -
and on an annual basis - with the influence expanding well beyond the
corporate walls of PDVSA into the nation of Venezuela, throughout Latin
America and into stakeholders from around the world.
Program par Excellence
Nelson Nava, Director of PDVSA, opened
the conference outlining the challenges in the new economy. "We need
to redesign the entrepreneur with a push toward 'neo-business' and
highlight the intellectual contribution to growth and
sustainability." He described the synergies that have started in and
across all the business units. Given the new rules of the game, he admits
that the assets to be managed are human resources that need to be
converted into a professional network that creates value in the 'real-time
Nelson G. Rios F., President of PDVSA
CIED (Center for International Education and Development) continued
explaining that this event had become a tradition; but now PDVSA opens the
doors for visitors "to expand influence beyond the geographic and
corporate boundaries...now extending to 100+ countries." He foresees
ways that now - especially with the agenda of corporate social
responsibility (see below) that "Knowledge Management (KM) and
Intellectual Capital (IC) Management should become a daily operation in
our networked world and integrated into society."
The well-orchestrated agenda included
presentations form some of the finest pioneers in the field, such as Arie
DeGeus, formerly from Royal Dutch Shell, who described how "learning
is the investment that the human species develops to cope with and adapt
to its environment." Speaking
of the current velocity of circulation, he issued the challenge for top
management understanding the changes in the world around us. Using the oil
industry as an example and emphasizing the shift from a Capitalistic to a
Humanistic Society, he described the 'war on talent' that had been
previously noted in McKinsey reports. "We think we can buy talent -
get knowledge off the shelves; but knowledge-creation and work are two
different things. The only way to acquire knowledge is through learning.
Therefore, we need to start putting people before profits!"
Legislation, he suggests 9and we will concur) is running 20 years behind
Tom Stewart, of Fortune magazine fame and
now the new editor of the Harvard Business Review, redefined the
proposition of what companies can do to reap economic results. Putting the
evolution of the movement into perspective, he argued, "Knowledge
makes the difference between success and failure." Affirming that
knowledge maters to BOTH high-tech and low-tech forms, he said, "The
Knowledge Economy was never about the dot.com bubble. We've done a lousy
job of connecting the idea - knowledge as an asset - to purchasing and
ultimately, the bottom line."
There were several other presentations
from international beacons of insight representing a diverse group of
institutions (e.g., Madrid's Institute for Innovation, Gartner, IBM, Fuji
Xerox, Statoil, CITGO, Schlumberger, Ford Motor Company, Cap Gemini,
Accenture, and The World Bank) and even more from several boutique
knowledge-consulting firms from various countries.
There were some common themes in the
The most moving moment in the event was
the christening (and yes, they use that term!) - bautizo del Libro - of
the new book 'Concimiento y Capital Intelectual.' This is the 1st such
book written by a Spanish author - by Luigi Valdes, who also served as the
eloquent and entertaining master of ceremonies for the entire week.
What was even more rare is that most of
the presenters stayed an extra day for a debriefing on the conference and
Steven Barth, editor and publisher, "Destination KM," recorded
comments. Based on the collective insight of the presenters - in addition
to the traditional evaluation forms and employee response, this type of
debriefing WITH the international experts is unusual - if not unique - for
such a conference and was considered a tribute to Dr. Salas and her team
for working to harness the collective wisdom!
Leadership for Corporate
Dovetailing with (but separate from) the
4th International Knowledge Forum was the release of the book Corporate
Social Responsibility in the Americas (ISBN: 980-372-192-5; published by
FONCIED) that provides the output of conferences and dialogue on the topic
that have brought together the minds and hearts of 70 speakers, 500
workshop attendees and 200 companies. This represents a vital debate on
how social responsibility perspectives; vision and practices can aid the
transformation of a society.
Nelson G. Rios F. provided the leadership
to explore the role of corporations within their communities. In the
Foreword, he described how the 'whirlwind of activity and sponsorship'
guided the eventual identification of many concrete projects to enhance
the countries of the Americas. Further, the book documents the fact that
corporate executives are realizing that their prevailing position in
society compels them to act as critical factors in the creation of a
climate of trust, and to become leaders of sustainable development actions
that will ultimately integrate the corporate world to civil society and
Dr. Bernardo Kliksberg, the
Inter-American Development Bank, outlined the mandate: " Social
capital translates into stability, and makes the difference in the
economic and political achievement of nations...Latin America is the
region that has the biggest inequality of the planet, a factor that has
direct impact on the degree of poverty of the population of the
In the summary remarks, General Arnoldo Rodríguez Ochoa, Director of PDVSA provided the conclusions citing the concluding messages from the presentations which outlines an agenda that calls for the need to overcome the social problems of the population, such as:
These factors bear a striking resemblance to the factors of the Western Hemisphere Knowledge Partnership (WHKP) outlined in the first Chapter of The Innovation SuperHighway - http://www.entovation.com/forthcoming.htm. The beauty is that companies are now placing resources where their mouths are. The biggest private experience to-date is the voluntary dividend for the Community organized by Don Eugenio Mendoza Goiticoa in 1964 with the participation of 164 representatives committing to give 2-5% contribution over their net profits for the solution of community problems. Since 2001, PDVSA's plans alone include the design, implementation and financing of 204 programs and activities that will benefit directly or indirectly approximately 5,900,000 persons.
GLD meets PDVSA: Global Learn Day stops in Venezuela
We were live on the 24-hour tour of Global Learn Day VI - http://www.bfranklin.edu/gld6/timetable.htm - when some of the finest minds involved in distance education participating in the dialogue. "Welcome to Caracas, Venezuela. The knowledge revolution has taken flight; and communities around the globe are innovating - industrialized and developing nations alike." This was my own 3rd visit to this spectacular country and I invited all listeners from Global Learn Day VI to visit this tropical paradise in person. For me, returning to Venezuela (this was my 3rd visit), it was like coming home - a tribute to this global village of which we are all now a part.
Thank to John Hibbs and his able Global Learn Day team - this village is getting smaller and expanding at the same time. We now have global friends in every corner of the world and through the computer and communications technology, we are all now accessible to one another. This is an ideal example of The Innovation SuperHighway in action!
I was joined with Dr. Olimpia Salas - founder of the Knowledge Management Team at PDVSA -, who was hosting the conference for knowledge and innovation. This event - the 4th International conference in a row - has become a premier event in the knowledge field and is sponsored by their CIED - http://www.pdvsa.com/cied/esp/principal.html. The meetings involve key company organizations and stakeholders, including suppliers, distributors, customers and alliance partners from around the world. They are learning and sharing the knowledge required for their sustained prosperity and thus the prosperity of all their stakeholders within Latin America and abroad.
Dr. Salas outlined the operational steps along the way to link executives with this new agenda and convert good ideas into action. She shared her aspirations for the agenda of the week. She suggested, "The Corporate Knowledge Management Team emerged as a group of advocates, from the different business units, interested in getting synergy from the different efforts that were developing in an independent and autonomous way within PDVSA, such as technological intelligence, knowledge centers, center of excellence, communities of practice." Today over the 117 communities of Knowledge integrate the KM Corporate Network corporate networking, and more than 10,000 employees are connected sharing knowledge and experiences.
Olimpia says that to be a change agent you always will find advocates that follows you in a easy way since sometime they see opportunity in news ideas; and more of the time they may feel and think like you do. However, sometimes you can underestimate people since you feel they think different because they don't embraces the new ideas in the same speed that you do and you may need to understand the difference of being an innovator.
The program objectives as outlined in the brochure:
Now, the KM program is an integral part of each business' structure rather than a parasystem. Salas says, "The challenge - to institutionalize the KM, to promote a new way of doing things and working, and to keep working to close the knowing-doing gap."
I was also joined by Dr. Silvard Kool - www.silvard.com,
a professor of marine biology at Boston College and the international
recording artist, who provides the music harmony for the Tour of the
Knowledge World - the knowledge entertainment featuring the ENTOVATION 100
from around the globe who are featured on the Global Knowledge Leadership
Map - http://www.entovation.com/kleadmap/index.htm.
Silvard, originally from the Netherlands, started playing the piano at age ten. At 18, he left Holland for the U.S.A. to pursue studies in Marine Biology. During his undergraduate studies at the University of South Carolina's Coastal campus in Myrtle Beach, he began performing his own arrangements of contemporary music in local restaurants and hotels. He continued his education by pursuing a graduate career in Zoology at George Washington University, in Washington, DC. Silvard carried out his dissertation research, partially funded by the Smithsonian Institution.
In 1994, Silvard recorded his first piano
album, Heartfelt. In 1996, he released his second album, Picture of Time,
featuring original, orchestrated piano compositions.
Since 1989, Silvard has been the resident pianist for one of the Nation's leading convention hotels, the Boston Marriott Hotel at Copley Place. In addition, Silvard keeps an active concert schedule and also performs at corporate and private functions all around the USA and abroad. When performing, Silvard often composes as he is playing - just as he did for PDVSA - composing and original composition for them. "I feel that composing is communicating from the soul of the musician to that of the listener. It is like sharing your innermost emotions with the audience. When the audience is captivated, it feels like magic!"
In the GLD visit to South America, we also explored the global implications of The Innovation SuperHighway - http://www.entovation.com/forthcoming.htm: the Innovation Frontier, Architecting a Future, the Globe as a Network, Innovation Leadership in Practice and a Millennium Vision. Bottom line: it is up to us as individuals to make a difference in creating the world we want our children to inherit; and the time is now. Following 9/11, it is even more imperative that we 'innovate our future...together.'
|Atlas of Knowledge Innovation® | Knowledge Concert | Knowledge Innovation® Software | Knowledge Millennium Generation | Virtual Knowledge Officer | The 7 C's of Knowledge Leadership | Speech to PDVSA|
International. All rights reserved.