RTKL Technology Leadership Council
Member, 2009 -2011
In fall of 2009 Lance Josal, CEO of RTKL, established leadership councils as a critical part of a new management structure. "The purpose is to apply some of our best and brightest thinkers to some of the most pressing issues facing our practice. And to do it in a way that drives new ideas, fresh perspectives and actionable recommendations," said Lance Josal.
As a result of his recent explorations in knowledge management, social media, and Enterprise 2.0 technologies Brian Frels was appointed by Lance Josal to the Technology Leadership Council. The council's charter was to develop an IT strategic plan that advances RTKL's leadership in the industry, defines a framework for the ongoing adoption of new technology, and fulfils RTKL's mission as a global leader. Areas of focus included: software utilization, collaboration, communication and operational agility.
During his 2 year tenure on the council, Brian has successfully put forward a business case for developing a culture of knowledge share within the firm and implementing an enterprise social network. The Technology Leadership Council's implementation proposal of NewsGator Social Sites on top of a Microsoft Sharepoint backbone was approved by RTKL's executive council.
RTKL's enterprise social network is now known as My Inet and had its official launch firm-wide in September of 2011.
The images below were selected from the Technology Council's business case proposal to the Executive Council.
RTKL's Existing Framework
The image of above illustrates RTKL's original office structure relating to its culture and IT infrastructure. Knowledge is transferred on an as needed basis outside of employees everyday workflow. Robust networks allowed for employees to easily transfer information from one office to another. The downside is the fact that much of the knowledge RTKL possesses as a firm is Tacit and therefore very contextual, making it difficult to record and pass on. Accessing and sharing knowledge within the firm becomes an extremely active task. Employees must be intimately aware of not only what they are looking for, but where it exists in order to find it. In order to be effectively transferred tacit knowledge needs a story....a context....or an illustration...something only PEOPLE can provide.
Within this type of network local offices start to evolve their own knowledge silos or islands because this is where the most effective transfer of knowledge is taking place. Knowledge that is transferred within the office remains connected to the individuals and supported by the context that created it. In order to be transferred from one office to another it must be separated from this context and pulled away from the people and their daily workflows. It is very difficult to define a common firm-wide knowledge base within this type of network.
A commonly proposed solution for defining a firm-wide knowledge base is the warehouse framework. This model implies that if we can store all our information in the same place and provide equal access to it that employees will come and access and contribute for the greater good of the firm. However, similar to the networked model, tacit knowledge doesn’t do well on its own. Here its separated from its context, stories, and people and thus is very difficult to successfully pass on. Much like the network model, the warehouse framework requires a very ACTIVE secondary process that is removed from the daily workflow. Employees are required to share and store their information in a logical manor outside of their everyday billable activities for the greater good of the firm. This model does little to foster synergies between each of the local offices.
Networked Knowledge Sharing Culture
Like the previous models, the networked system enables a firm to transfer information. The difference here is the people and communities are the backbone of the system. They are bridging each of the local offices with an organic structure that works to spread tacit knowledge effectively through stories, context, and commonalities. The transfer of information becomes a PASSIVE experience integrated into an employee's workflow rather than separated from it. Here its not what you know and keep to yourself that makes you an invaluable employee, its what you share, and how you tap into and build upon the vast amounts of knowledge within the firm that makes you invaluable.