Knowledge management ground zero

We recently had to deal directly with a Very Large Phone Company, on whom most of the businesses in my Manhattan neighborhood ultimately rely for both their telephone and Internet connections.  In the process of getting a new phone system installed after our recent office move, my staff and I witnessed some of the most primitive “knowledge” behavior I’ve ever seen.  We noticed that, at least once a week during our ten-week (!) wait for service, a new team would arrive to scout the connections entering our new building on the street level.  Rarely the same team twice.  And each time, the team seemed to be asking similar questions about where wires came from, where they ran, and so on.  And each time (you guessed it) their report that there were not enough lines coming into the building was oddly familiar.

Our building is a 100-year-old former medical equipment warehouse in the High Line district on the Hudson River just south of the Javits Center—now a thriving art gallery district, and soon to become a thriving business district.  The building was not originally built for telephones.  As a result, connection boxes are in odd places, wires run where you’d not expect—you really have to know what you’re doing.

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The digital half-life

I had an experience recently that reminded me how fragile the Knowledge Value Chain really is.  A client had asked for information on the quality of intelligence, a topic that I’ve addressed in many talks over the years.  I looked through dozens of PowerPoint slide shows from these talks, and was printing the slides that were most relevant to his question.

Then, when looking though a file created about 12 years ago, I got an error message that the file was incompatible, and could not be opened.  I tried another file of the same vintage, and got the same message.

After some research on one of Microsoft’s excellent support sites, I’ve come to the conclusion that the software I’m using (PowerPoint 2007, which I find superior in all other respects to its predecessor) will not open the file I’m trying to access.

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    COMPETING IN THE KNOWLEDGE ECONOMY is written by Timothy Powell, an independent researcher and consultant in knowledge strategy. Tim is president of The Knowledge Agency® (TKA) and serves on the faculty of Columbia University's Information and Knowledge Strategy (IKNS) graduate program.


    "During my more than three decades in business, I have served more than 100 organizations, ranging from Fortune 500s to government agencies to start-ups. I document my observations here with the intention that they may help you achieve your goals, both professional and personal.

    "These are my opinions, offered for your information only. They are not intended to substitute for professional advice."


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