The Israeli Knowledge Managers' Forum

As a part of our KM program within our organization, I had a strong feeling that we need to do some more to contribute to the young KM discipline.
As long and as deep I got into this remarkable process, I looked for mature methodologies and knowledge about KM, but I couldn’t find substantive and suitable information. Something was missing: all existing groups where lead or based on software vendors or based on consulting firms. Indeed I thought that the KM deserves more deep and objective treatment.
After a while, I decided to initiate and to establish the Israeli Knowledge Management forum. After few months I became aware that the way we take it in Bezeq – is unique, compared to all the effort, deepness and seriousness at the time around.
It was only natural that we saw it as another part of our leadership in the uprising field in Israel. It was a part of the program rational – Bezeq leads the KM in Israel.
Indeed, there were other firms or organization here that started their own version of KM program, but none of them did not choose “the hard way” and for us – the right way to do it, means: Culture – Process – Tools and in that order.

I started to gather a basic group of people, oriented to the KM. The first list combined and based on my personal friends and colleagues within other organizations, from our shared past: people deals with Intra-Net, QA, IT etc, whom I met during my carrier in conferences etc, people that I met during my lecture at KM events in Israel, and who read articles describing our program in local magazines, as well as new ones that heard about it in newsgroups and other forums.
It seems that the idea fell on the right ground and at the right time: people were strongly seeking ”for the truth”, and were sure that we have it, more than that: we thought that sharing it, (the knowledge about knowledge management) – even with our strong and bitter competitors is a part of our Holistic duty, it derives from our responsibility by dealing with KM.
After few days I set a date, and on January 2000, Bezeq hosted a meeting of this people in our office in Tel Aviv. The target was to check their willingness to cooperate.
At the first meeting I focused on the story telling of our program: I had the strong and brave sponsorship of Deputy CEO & VP Engineering & Planning, to the whole move, and as n expression of his leadership, he deliver a lecture about the sources and the decisions he took to initiate the program here. Around 60 people from about 40 different organizations had a first and unique opportunity to hear the story from the inside: The Organization leader describes the sources, and the Knowledge Manager describes the program.

At the end of this meeting I asked only one question: “Do people here think that there is a place for such a forum?” the response was shocking. It seems that the event opened all hearts and minds, people were talking more and more, on and on about their difficulties, their frustrations, and at the end of the session, I asked for few volunteers to help me move on.
4 people volunteered and now we have a leading team that conduct all forum activities: We have representatives form the Health sector, From Amdocs , an international software corporation, from the Israeli army, and from a big accounting firm.

We at Bezeq got 2 strong responses from the first meeting:
1. “We didn’t know that what you are doing is Knowledge Management!” and more than that ‘
2. “We didn’t know that this is Bezeq!”

Don’t you worry: we have difficulties not only during our program within Bezeq, but also within our forum…. It seems that leading a knowledge management within a community of knowledge managers is not easier than doing it within an organization:

I set the first meeting for the leading team and we were enthusiastic around high and ambitious targets for our forum to lead:
1. Developing the KM methodology
2. Promoting the Knowledge manager as profession within the Academy
3. Representing the Knowledge Managers at international bodies
4. Organizing the first Knowledge Managers conference in Israel

We also had few procedural issues in order to formulate the forum activities.

We announced the first formal forum meeting, dozens of people arrived, and we present the proposed Vision, Objectives and procedure for the forum to act.
The response was as full icy water bucket on our heads: people were angry, cynic and I can say even disturbed: it seems that the “vision” thing was to much for them to swallow, at the time we understood “right in the face” how difficult changes are, even within the KM forum.
People said that they are not formal Knowledge Managers as I am; they say that they don’t know as much as we do about it, etc. They said that they want to go forward on step at a time.
Now, after half a year of activity and 5 successful meetings, I can say the the lesson is: See the big picture, think global, act local.”

The forum site: www.knowledge-management.org.il

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