by Hugh McKellar, Editor, KMWorld Magazine
Anyone who has ever had to judge a contest of any sort knows you go into the process assured of your impartiality. As a journalist, objectivity is part of my job, so I didn’t think judging the KM Promise and KM Reality nominations should pose any significant challenges. But along with the other judges I realized that I do have some biases—certain elements of KM technology interest me more than others. So it’s good that none of us went into this alone and that we worked through our prejudices by adhering to the criteria we established for the awards.
For KM Reality we would honor an organization that demonstrates leadership in the implementation of knowledge management practices and processes by realizing measurable benefits. The program had to be in place for a minimum of two years, demonstrate senior management support and have defined metrics in place to evaluate the program and its impact on organizational goals. The winner of the 2001 KM Reality Award was pretty much unanimous: The Office of Special Projects, Veteran’s Health Administration.
Until 1997, the VA had no systematic mechanism for allowing its 219,000 employees to share their informal knowledge, innovations and best practices. The VA Lessons Learned Project and its Web site, the Virtual Learning Center (VLC), were initiated in 1997 to address this need and to serve as a place where any VA employee can access knowledge capital of colleagues. The VA says an overarching reason for initiating the project was a recognized need and motivation to transform the organization into a learning organization. In 1999, the VLC became available on the Internet (va.gov/vlc). The site now has international participation from Korea, Canada, Spain, Pakistan and elsewhere. Through reducing red tape, cutting across organizational silos, partnering and benchmarking with others and establishing best processing, the VA is saving countless hours of staff time by not having to reinvent the wheel at its 173 medical centers, more than 600 clinics, 31 nursing home care units, 206 counseling centers, and other federal and private healthcare institutions, Veterans Benefits and National Cemetery offices.
For KM Promise, we wanted to recognize a company that delivered on the promise of providing truly innovative technology solutions for implementing and integrating KM practices into the business process. This category was especially hard because of the extremely high quality of nearly all the submissions and also because here is where all our personal biases tried to sneak in. We did, however, settle on TheBrain and its Enterprise Knowledge Platform, which links disparate data sources into a collaborative workspace and uses a model that reflects the relationship between people processes and information.
BrainEKP uses a unique graphical representation of information, and through its interface each piece can be connected to any other item, even if it resides in a different repository. The software also encourages communication in context to eliminate redundant efforts to organize information once for access and a second time to share ideas about it—BrainEKP enables discussion at the point of information and creation.
Each of the award winners will be profiled in an upcoming issue of KMWorld. On a final note, for obvious reasons we’d like to acknowledge another organization for its implementation of knowledge management: The Office of Assistant Secretary of Defense for Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence, which has implemented a system for policy and information management, command and control, communications, counterintelligence, security, space systems, surveillance and reconnaissance, as well as intelligence-related activities.
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