Language Lessons

Making Your Move

Mobilizing your company's knowledge doesn't have to be time-consuming. Gruner and her managers, for example, went to a weekend retreat, then imparted their knowledge to other employees in a series of workplace meetings.

Applying the ideas is straightforward. Claudia Viek, executive director of Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center, a San Francisco business incubator, uses what she learned from Kenny in goal-setting sessions with her 10 staff members. Negotiating responsibilities is a very effective way to empower and motivate people, Viek says.

And you can significantly improve your own personal effectiveness without involving anybody else, Denning says. "It's not like you have to change the whole company."

Nor will you have to wait long for results. Kenny says significant results can materialize in three months or less. It can be expensive, however--she charges large organizations $250,000 or more for a full-fledged engagement.

The dean of the field, Flores, has written several books, including Disclosing New Worlds: Entrepreneurship, Democratic Action & the Cultivation of Solidarity (MIT Press). But these are dense works and tend to be "very heavy going," concedes Kenny.

One source for easier tools to employ knowledge mobilization techniques is Action Technologies Inc. of Alameda, California. Action is a software company founded by Flores to apply the concepts of knowledge mobilization in a computer network environment. The company's work-flow software provides such tools as electronic message templates for responding to requests.

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This article was originally published in the May 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Language Lessons.

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