Originally published on February 20, 2018
This is the sixth article in the Profiles in Knowledge series featuring thought leaders in knowledge management who are gone but not forgotten. C. Jackson “Jack” Grayson, Jr. was born on October 8, 1923 and died on May 4, 2017. He was the chairman of APQC, dean of two business schools, head of the U.S. Price Commission, a farmer, newspaper reporter, and FBI agent. With his wife, Carla O’Dell, in 1977 he founded APQC as a private sector, non-profit organization.
Jack was one of the first people in the nation to sound the alarm about our sagging productivity, quality, and competitiveness. He founded the nonprofit APQC (American Productivity & Quality Center) in Houston, Texas. It was his answer to a dangerous economy — it was an initiative that would help improve American competitiveness.
“Productivity is something like motherhood,” he told The New York Times in 1980. “Everybody believes in it but most people ignore it.” In 1990, Business Week said of Jack, “Few, if any, individual Americans have done more during the last 20 years to shape the country’s economic future for the better.”
- In Memoriam
- Freedom to Dream, Courage to Act: The First Nine Decades of C. Jackson Grayson
- C. Jackson Grayson Distinguished Quality Pioneer Medal
- Grayson Guarantee
4. Knowledge transfer: Discover your value proposition with Carla O’Dell
7. The Forgotten Lessons of Business: An Interview with Productivity Pioneer Jack Graysonby Claus von Zastrow
- Q: If innovation alone is not enough, what comes next?
- A: Hard work. Because you have to implement. Innovation is not of use unless it’s implemented. Without implementation, it’s just an interesting idea. And when you start to implement, you need not just the outcomes the innovation produces — if it’s a good innovation, it will have outcomes — but you need to know, what are the processes that lead to the outcomes? Then you must use both in order to make the innovation useful. The word “useful” is very important. Process is the key to getting an innovation accepted and used.
8. Book Review of If Only We Knew What We Know: The Transfer of Internal Knowledge and Best Practice by Lee Spain
- In part one, O’Dell and Grayson lay out their working definitions and build a framework for internal knowledge transfer. The authors define knowledge as “information in action.” They move on to formally define Knowledge Management as “a conscious strategy of getting the right knowledge to the right people at the right time and helping people share and put information into action in ways that strive to improve organizational performance.” They further distinguish between the tacit knowledge stored in the minds of employees and the explicit knowledge that is formally documented in the organization. From this beginning, the authors move on to identify the following steps as a cycle for transferring knowledge: 1) identify important knowledge, 2) collect the knowledge systematically, 3) organize the knowledge, 4) share the knowledge, 5) adapt the knowledge, and 6) use the knowledge to solve business needs. Each step in the process has potential problems to be overcome. The authors use case studies extensively to show how successful enterprises overcome these problems. The authors also establish a framework detailing the essential value propositions, enablers, and management steps that underpin a well executed KM effort.
- In part two, O’Dell and Grayson on explain that a well-planned KM effort is designed to support one of three basic value propositions: customer intimacy, product-to-market excellence, or the pursuit of operational excellence. The customer intimacy value proposition focuses on harnessing organizational knowledge to better sell to and service customers. The product-to-market excellence proposition focuses on speeding up the product development cycle. The pursuit of operational excellence proposition focuses on using best practices to improve the internal performance of an enterprise. Each value proposition may necessitate a different overall approach. The key learning behind these value propositions is simply that a KM effort must be designed to help solve an important business problem.
- Part three of the book identifies and discusses four major enablers of knowledge transfer: culture, infrastructure, technology, and measurement. The authors outline cultural barriers that inhibit knowledge transfer. For many companies, the shift to a culture of sharing and collaboration is not easy. To enable a successful KM program, transfer specific mechanisms must be put into place to ensure the flow of best practices. In addition, an infrastructure of organizations and people must also be mobilized to make knowledge transfer happen. The authors discuss roles from librarians and facilitators to chief knowledge officers. The book moves on to discuss technology as an enabler. At a high level, they discuss a variety of success stories using technologies including Lotus Notes networks, bulletin boards, and Intranets. While KM technology continues to march on, the authors rightfully argue that technology is an enabler rather than the starting point for a KM effort. Finally, they discuss the importance of obtaining measurements as a gauge for the success of a KM program. Anecdotal evidence, usage statistics, and documented cost savings are important for justifying KM efforts and expanding them within an enterprise.
- In part four, the authors return to case studies to provide details of successful KM programs at leading enterprises such as Chevron and the World Bank. These case studies provide important insights into the actual workings of successful KM programs.
- In part five, the authors using the metaphorical “Monday Morning” action plan to propose a four-phase approach to KM projects that includes planning, designing, implementing, and scaling up from initial success.
2. APQC Origins
9. APQC Tribute
- If Only We Knew What We Know: The Transfer of Internal Knowledge and Best Practice with Carla O’Dell
- American Business — A Two Minute Warning: 10 Changes Managers Must Make to Survive Into the 21st Century with Carla O’Dell
- Decisions Under Uncertainty: Drilling Decisions By Oil and Gas Operators
- Forum for Future of Higher Education, Volume 1: New Thinking on Higher Education — Creating a Context for Change with others
- Freedom to Dream, Courage to Act: The First Nine Decades of C. Jackson Graysonby John DeMers and Paige Dawson
- Handbook of Knowledge Management Vol. 1 edited by Clyde Holsapple — Volume 1: Knowledge Matters, Chapter 31: Identifying and Transferring Internal Best Practices — with Carla O’Dell
- Amazon Author Page
If you know of additional content by or about Jack, please comment and provide the link.