Social Networking Tools, Case Study: General Motors, Multigenerational Knowledge Transfer, Mobilizing Minds

27-Jun-07 Archive of Weekly KM Blog by Stan Garfield

KM Question of the Week

Q: Are corporate employees using public social networking tools?

A: Facebook is very widely used. LinkedIn is very popular in the business world for referrals and job searches.

Q: Which ones have you used?

A: On my home page look under Profiles in the right column:

  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • MySpace
  • Xing

Q: Are you blogging or using wikis?

A: I had an internal blog at HP called Knowledge Sharing Weekly and this external blog.

Wikis I have edited:

Q: Do you see a use for social networking tools within the enterprise, and what do you see as their benefits?

A: An internal tool called me@hp allowed HP employees to personalize their own sites with a bio, a photo, and links; declare their interests; network with others with the same interests; add and list friends; and display their discussion forum memberships. As recent graduates joined HP, they expect this functionality based on their use of Facebook.


  • Recruit and retain recent graduates
  • Increase employee engagement by allowing employees to express their personal identities
  • Enable networking with others with similar interests and skills
  • Increase forum participation by listing discussion forum memberships of others
  • Provide a single site which integrates all personal information, allows sharing of bookmarks, and connects people in a network

KM Blog of the Week

Extacit: Knowledge Management, Collaborative Learning & Research by Colin Mooney

Case Study: General Motors

The General Motors Variation-Reduction Adviser: An Example of Grassroots Knowledge Management Development

Alexander P. Morgan, John A. Cafeo, Diane I. Gibbons, Ronald M. Lesperance, Gulcin H. Sengir & Andrea M. Simon

The case is about the V-R Adviser — one of GM’s takes on KM. The project was meant to help in dimensional control in a vehicle assembly centre and it appeared to succeed.

KM Link of the Week

Multigenerational Knowledge Transfer

The baby boom generation of the United States, Canada, and many European nations is aging rapidly. With a large number of senior leaders approaching retirement, businesses face losing invaluable experience and knowledge on an unprecedented scale. Younger workers now plan to change jobs, frequently taking their technological savvy and knowledge with them. Despite the high risk and cost of losing intellectual capital, a majority of companies still have no plans for managing and transferring knowledge that factor in cross-generational challenges.

The Conference Board® Research Working Group on Multigenerational Knowledge Transfer explored this topic, emphasizing the knowledge retention challenges that organizations face due to shifting demographics and the shortage of new leadership talent in the pipeline. The working group focused on:

  • exploring generational differences in communication, work styles, and values that interfere with effective knowledge transfer;
  • identifying which knowledge transfer techniques work, and why;
  • adapting and applying proven methods for knowledge transfer and retention; and
  • creating new practices for dealing with intergenerational issues.

Also see:

KM Book of the Week

Mobilizing Minds: Creating Wealth From Talent in the 21st Century Organization by Lowell L. Bryan and Claudia I. Joyce

Ted Graham was kind enough to have an advance copy sent to me. Here is the description of the book.

Based on a decade of exclusive research, Lowell Bryan and Claudia Joyce of McKinsey & Company have come up with a simple yet revolutionary conclusion: Your workforce is the key to growth in the 21st century. By tapping into their underutilized talents, knowledge, and skills you can earn tens of thousands of additional dollars per employee, and manage the interdepartmental complexities and barriers that prevent real achievements and profits.

This can only be accomplished through organizational design and redesign. That’s the new model for survival in the modern, digital, global economy. With the right design, your organization will have the capabilities to pursue whatever strategy is necessary to compete on any scale, react to any market change, leverage any opportunity, and sail past the competition.

In Mobilizing Minds, the authors distill their research into seven strategic ideas that shatter the complexity frontiers, have the potential to unleash enormous profits, and enable long-term success for every company. Bryan and Joyce outline innovative principles that enable corporations to:

  • Manage complexity, bureaucracy, and redundancy
  • Use hierarchical authority to strengthen the authority of key managers and drive performance
  • Deliver operating earnings while implementing wealth-creation strategies
  • Allow formal networks, talent, and knowledge marketplaces to work in a large company
  • Motivate and reward wealth-creating behavior
  • Pursue organizational design as a corporate strategy
  • Increase worker satisfaction

It is imperative for corporations to put the same energy used for new products and processes into organizational design. That’s where the money is. That’s where the opportunities lie. That’s the key to surviving and prospering in the 21st century.

Table of Contents

Part I: A New Model

  1. Opportunity for Better Design
  2. Designing Organizations for the 21st Century

Part II: Ideas to Manage Better

  1. Creating a Backbone Line Structure
  2. One-Company Governance
  3. Dynamic Management

Part III: Ideas to Improve the Flow of Intangibles

  1. Formal Networks
  2. Talent Marketplaces
  3. Knowledge Marketplaces

Part IV: Ideas to Motivate Better Behaviors

  1. Financial Performance Measurement for the 21st Century
  2. Role-Specific Performance Evaluation

Part V: Conclusion

  1. Organization Design as Strategy



  • “Mobilizing Minds will more than mobilize the mind of any reader. It will inspire, energize, and give them a basis for taking imaginative and creative action.” — Larry Prusak, coauthor, Working Knowledge
  • “In the increasingly globalized and complex world in which we operate, the need for companies to be agile and mobilize their human capital has never been greater.” — Jean-Paul Votron, CEO, Fortis
  • “Lowell Bryan is one of the most insightful individuals I know when it comes to organization design and leadership models. If we can reduce complexity while increasing collaboration of true leaders, the power of the organization and its people can be realized.” — Dennis M. Nally, Chairman & Senior Partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP
  • Goodreads

Also see:

Written by

Knowledge Management Author and Speaker, Founder of SIKM Leaders Community, Community Evangelist, Knowledge Manager

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