Building A Knowledge-Driven Organization
IN THIS SUMMARY
If knowledge is power, then knowledge shared is knowledge multiplied. For many years, the knowledge that Buckman Laboratories, an international specialty chemical company in business since 1945, brought to its customers was limited, for the most part, to that of the individual employee working with a customer. Soon, Bob Buckman, now chairman and CEO emeritus of the company and author of Building A Knowledge Driven Organization, came to realize that if the company’s collective knowledge could be brought to bear on a customer’s problem, the speed—as well as the quality—of the solution for the customer would be greatly enhanced. The challenge would be in learning how to move the knowledge around the organization in time for it to be useful, which implied having the technological capability to locate and move the knowledge, and having the kind of corporate culture that not only permitted, but encouraged, knowledge sharing as opposed to knowledge hoarding.Sharing knowledge across time and space has become the method of meeting customer needs and solving customer problems at Buckman Laboratories. To make that possible, the company’s entire corporate culture had to be reinvented as individuals began to assume responsibility for making things happen for themselves. Buckman Labs became a company organized around knowledge—creating it, locating it, sharing it, applying it—rather than around structures or processes. Senior management focused the company’s strategy on meeting its most critical needs, and on building systems to support that strategy. In addition, trust was built among the company’s employees by emphasizing fundamental human virtues respected worldwide. Knowledge and best practices were shared, allowing customer problems to be solved rapidly by employees solving problems directly without guidance or prompting from management, and allowing for critical customer feedback in the development of new products and services that would ultimately increase the company’s competitive edge and its profitability.