A Unified Theory of Knowledge Management and Thought Leadership

We have long known that how much good thought leadership you can generate in a professional services firm relies on one or both of two things: the ease of extracting new insights from practicing professionals, and whether or not the firm does dedicated research. This week I saw a model that neatly ties these things together.

I had the pleasure of speaking at KAConnect 2011, a conference mostly about knowledge management in the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industries. As usual at these things, I am sure I learned more than I imparted.

There were some great speakers and lots of discussion about how best to manage knowledge in design and engineering firms: images, building information models, and so on. At one point my friend Chris Parsons put up a slide (which I suspect he invented the day before) which goes a long way to demonstrate the interconnectedness of the things which enable a firm to develop thought leadership.

Chris’s point is that knowledge management, however you do it, is crucial to extracting institutional learning from the projects that professionals do for clients. R&D helps them push the envelope in areas where they want to get ahead of the competition – perhaps areas where there is an unsatisfied need in the market. Together, these can provide an arsenal of thought leadership to go to market with, and to inform future projects.

So there it is: the unified theory of knowledge management and thought leadership.

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