wisdom to win

 Wisdom to Win
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Thomas StewartThomas Stewart


American expert (pictured right) in knowledge management who was a journalist at Fortune magazine and editor of the Harvard Business Review (2002-8).


Key book


Intellectual Capital (1997)


A successful organization is a company of knowledge and effectively uses its intellectual capital (or collective brainpower) to satisfy its customers.


Intellectual capital has three parts:


1. Human capital

Employee brainpower which is best exploited by:

  • removing unnecessary jobs, paperwork and political infighting.
  • encouraging teamwork, innovation and communities of learning.


2. Customer capital

The value of relationships with customers and the ability to create solutions for them, indicated by:

  • market share.
  • customer loyalty.
  • profit per customer.

This is often the worst managed part of intellectual capital, because many organizations have little knowledge about their customers.


3. Structural capital

Knowledge kept within the organization, resulting from individual and group learning e.g. technologies, inventions and business processes.

These three components of intellectural capital should not be treated, or invested in, separately, because they are totally interdependent.


To maximize customer satisfaction organizations must create organization-wide learning through:


1. Recruiting knowledgeable employees

Employees are knowledge workers who know at least as much as managers.


2. Applying people's knowledge and skills

Empowering people to take responsibility for:

  • results.
  • exchanging information and learning (particularly from customer contact).



3. Having leaders and managers who lead and inspire (not dictate)

They must:

  • see employees and customers as vital assets to be invested in and nurtured.
  • create a shared purpose based on learning to improve customer satisfaction.


4. Empowering people to take responsibility for results and learning

Employee power comes from:

  • expertise.
  • the search for knowledge (not position).


5. Implementing the idea of a learning organization


Key quotes on knowledge management

Information and knowledge are the thermonuclear competitive weapons of our time.

Intellectual capital is intellectual material – knowledge, information, intellectual property, experience – that can be put to use to create wealth. It is collective brainpower.



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