Knowledge Strategy Simplified

I’ve been preparing to help Guy St. Clair teach his course Management and Leadership in the Knowledge Domain. This is part of Columbia University’s exciting new master’s degree program in Information and Knowledge Strategy, which I am pleased and honored to be part of.

This for me is a perfect opportunity to link my ideas about competitive strategy with my ideas about information management.  If you’ve read any of these posts, you’ll know that I believe strongly that the latter should serve the former, with few exceptions.

Guy and I will be presenting a high-level view of how to develop “knowledge strategies” in a range of industries. We’re using as our examples investment banking, pharmaceuticals manufacturing, advertising, and higher education. All are relatively knowledge-intensive as industries, yet each faces significantly different challenges at both strategic and tactical levels from each of the others.

Three basic questions

In approaching these industries, as I would approach any new client, I find the answers to the following qualifying questions essential in setting a direction for further diagnosis.

VM-CS-KS1. What is their value model? How do they produce revenue? Is the value produced solely economic, or are other value components (like societal benefit) also in play?

2. What are their competitive differentiators? How do they make themselves more attractive than their rivals? How are these factors weighted in importance and investment?

3. What knowledge/information do they require to support these value-producing and competitive factors, at both strategic and tactical levels?

Once I have reasonably complete answers to these three questions, I can begin to get a handle on where they need to be in terms of knowledge strategies.

You may realize that this is essentially a truncated version of the Knowledge Value Chain model. It drives down from the top — the organizing principle is the value model, which is then supported by — and even “given life” by — the knowledge model and infrastructure.

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