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Straits Knowledge OzWater a management decision game
© 2006 Straits Knowledge OzWater OzWater - Background Australia-based OzWater is the product of water utility privatization. Formed in 1991 out of three state-owned utility companies, OzWater grew rapidly through acquisitions in Australia through the 1990s. In 2001 it started setting its sights overseas, and targetted municipal water services contracts in Asia Pacific and in South America. Shareholder value has grown tremendously, and OzWater is touted as one of Australia’s privatization success stories. The company is finding it difficult to sustain its growth as it takes on larger and more diverse water management contracts. Led by a charismatic Chief Engineer, it had formerly prided itself on the experience and skills of its engineers and managers. Training in consistent methodologies and approaches had been a major emphasis. This is now difficult to sustain as the company is recruiting and absorbing staff at great speed to support its growth. Meanwhile, the core team of engineers and managers who launched OzWater are heading for retirement.
© 2006 Straits Knowledge OzWater ‘Gruff’ Petersen CEO Doug Simes DCEO & Finance Director Dhasha Velucca Director Human Capital Glenda Blane Records Manager Carly Sorrentina Director Corporate Development Danny Digges Asst Director Business Development Jane Mawe Legal Officer David Smith Knowledge Manager Mark Gettit CIO Roy Stead GM Global ICT Charlie Franks Chief Engineer Suresh Narayan GM, Project & Quality Mgmt
© 2006 Straits Knowledge OzWater OzWater – Key Players OzWater was founded by the current CEO “Gruff Petersen”, Finance Director Doug Simes and Chief Engineer Charlie Franks – all are now in their early sixties. Mark Gettit is CIO and has been with OzWater for five years – he has a strong background in IT control systems for utilities plants, and plays golf regularly with Charlie Franks. Carly Sorrentina has been with OzWater for only a year. She is American, and was brought in specifically to head up the newly restructured Corporate Development Division, and spearhead OzWater’s international expansion plans. Her background is in technology sales, not in engineering. Dhasha Velucca joined OzWater at the same time as Mark Gettit (five years ago), from a career in public sector HRM. At the time, OzWater was facing union problems with employees who were former public sector workers, so her experience in public sector employee relations helped in resolving the issues successfully.
© 2006 Straits Knowledge OzWater OzWater – Key Players Suresh Narayan was previously GM of an acquired OzWater Asian subsidiary in Asia, and has been promoted to corporate HQ to address quality and consistency issues in its international projects. Roy Stead looks after global ICT infrastructure. He’s been with OzWater since 1995, and knows the systems inside out. Glenda Blane has been with Ozwater from the start, and was previously Registry Manager with one of the original state water companies that made up Ozwater. Jane Mawe joined OzWater two years ago. Danny Digges is a brilliant salesperson who led much of OzWater’s early expansion, and was a candidate for Carly Sorrentina’s job, but didn’t get it, largely because Charlie Franks was unhappy with the “messy” deals he set up. “If he talked to Engineering more often, he’d know how to sell contracts that we can deliver on”. Doug Simes felt that he lacked the strategic vision that Carly could bring to the company.
© 2006 Straits Knowledge OzWater You are David Smith, recently appointed Knowledge Manager for OzWater. This is your first senior post in KM, your previous post was as an assistant Knowledge Manager with a global mining company. You have just concluded a very successful KM strategy process with the senior management team. You will focus on four core areas to support OzWater’s growth: a.“Up to speed” – rapid knowledge transfer for new staff, particularly project managers and water engineers – sponsor Charlie Franks b.“Virtual experts” – cross border collaboration to give OzWater’s subsidiaries and project teams access to the expertise they need, when they need it – sponsor Suresh Narayan c.“Knowledge base” - a reference resource comprising engineering standards, quality management tools, and project lessons learned repository – sponsor Mark Gettit d.“Leadership knowledge” – pre-retirement interview processes for senior staff to be captured as stories in a special knowledge base, and integrated into OzWater’s leadership renewal programme – sponsor Dhasha Velucca
© 2006 Straits Knowledge OzWater Evaluation Table. Evaluate each step in your case study by indicating on the chart whether you think it is a positive, negative or neutral contributor to your desired outcomes
© 2006 Straits Knowledge OzWater 1.“Gruff” Petersen refers to the new KM strategy as part of his update on the “Tapping Growth” corporate strategy (pioneered by Carly) in his monthly Newsletter to all employees. He writes: “KM is an essential part of our ‘Tapping Growth’ corporate strategy. Moving forward I expect all OzWater employees will benefit from this exciting development.” Your boss Carly is very pleased and tells you “well done”.
© 2006 Straits Knowledge OzWater 2.You bump into Jane Mawe in the cafeteria. She’s looking harassed, so you ask her what’s wrong. “That bloody lawsuit. I can’t believe it’s been going on for ten years already. First I heard about it was yesterday when we got the discovery order. I’ve been trying to track down the records, but Glenda says she’s too busy with her records digitisation project. I have no idea where my predecessor left things. Gotta go.”
© 2006 Straits Knowledge OzWater 3.You’re supposed to have a kickoff meeting with Mark Gettit and Suresh Narayan on the new knowledge-base project. Mark sends his ICT Manager Roy Stead, as Mark has to attend a tender committee meeting for “OzPort” the new global portal project. Suresh is late, and when he arrives seems distracted. You had wanted a brainstorming session with them, but they seem to expect you to have all the answers. Roy isn’t pleased – “It’s a good job you didn’t waste Mark’s time with this. I suggest you get your proposal straight before you come back for our approval.” You ask him for the tender specifications for the portal as a starting point. He says he’ll get his PA to you a copy.
© 2006 Straits Knowledge OzWater 4.OzWater has just won a huge desalination contract in the Middle East. Carly is jubilant, and her press statement says: “This is a first for OzWater, both in its sheer scale and in breaking into the Middle Eastern market against tough competition from Europe and the USA. We see ourselves as becoming the number one water infrastructure providers within the next ten years.” National TV news comes in to interview her for their business segment that evening. Internally, however, company gossip has it that Danny Digges is fuming, because he got the sale and Carly took the credit for his hard work.
© 2006 Straits Knowledge OzWater 5. Despite the disappointing response from Suresh and Roy you decide to proceed with your plans for a knowledge audit – it was, after all, part of the plan endorsed by the CEO. You call in your KM consultant and she advises you “Look, if you’re going to mount all this stuff on your global intranet, you’d better make sure you develop a proper taxonomy for it. Have they included that in the tender specs for the portal? If not, you’ll need to make sure it’s covered somewhere. Otherwise the portal will be a mess.” You tell her you’re not sure. Your current KM funding doesn’t cover a taxonomy. You drop a follow up to Roy to remind him about the tender specs.
© 2006 Straits Knowledge OzWater 6.In your previous job, you got on well with the engineering managers, and this got you a lot of ground level support for KM. So you arrange to have lunch with Suresh. He seems friendly enough, though he admits “I don’t really know what KM is. I have my work cut out just staying on top of my project and quality management portfolio. The engineers we are hiring are basically cowboys… they all want to do things their own way. There’s no discipline at all.” You convince him that KM can help – “Look, Suresh, if we get some standard KM-type processes in place like after action reviews on projects, and getting project teams to consult the knowledge-base as a standard procedure, then half your job will be done.” Suresh seems keen. He agrees to help you draft the “Knowledge-base” portal plan and to support the knowledge audit among his engineering managers.
© 2006 Straits Knowledge OzWater 7.You’re finding it hard to pin down Carly for an update meeting. You haven’t got the tender specs for the global portal from Roy despite several reminders, and you’re worried about provision for a taxonomy. You finally get hold of her, but she seems tired. “Charlie’s been throwing tantrums” she says. “He doesn’t think we should be getting into the desalination business, even though we have a sizable stake in a desalination company in Singapore. He’s so old school. If he doesn’t know the engineering, he doesn’t think OzWater should do it.” However, Carly listens carefully to your concerns and promises to speak to the CIO.
© 2006 Straits Knowledge OzWater 8.Your knowledge audit is going rather slowly. The KM consultants are annoyed with you because the engineering managers keep cancelling their appointments for the audit sessions. You ask Suresh to step in, and he sends a stern note around to everybody. “This is compulsory” he says. Everybody immediately falls into line.
© 2006 Straits Knowledge OzWater 9.The HC Director Dhasha Velucca calls you in to find out how things are going on the “Getting up to speed” project. You tell her you haven’t started yet, because you can’t get an appointment with Charlie Franks, the project sponsor. “Oh he’s impossible, good luck to you there. He only likes messing around with the boys on the golf course. Look, I’m in the middle of doing a competency mapping exercise for the whole engineering division, and I can tell you it’s been like getting blood from a stone. But this induction project should really be under me, and at the very least I should be involved, otherwise we’re duplicating effort.” You tell her about your alliance with Suresh, and promise to raise it with him. When you ask her about the “Leadership knowledge” project, which she is sponsoring, she tells you it’s not a priority right now. “We’ve got to get this competency project done first.”
© 2006 Straits Knowledge OzWater 10.You finally get the tender specs for the global portal and pass it on to the KM consultant for her advice. You’re pleased to see a section on “information architecture” inside the specs, which refers to provision for taxonomy development. However there’s no reference to the knowledge-base project. When you call up Roy to ask him, he says “Oh that’s too recent, we’ve been working on these specs for a year already. We’ve already appointed the vendor. It’s a generic portal solution, I’m sure you can fit your repository inside.”
© 2006 Straits Knowledge OzWater 11. OzWater is in national news again, this time for the wrong reasons. Apparently it’s being sued for millions of dollars by five town councils for the incident last year when bacteria in drinking water caused hundreds of people to fall ill. Jane Mawe tells you she’s tried and failed to find the plant maintenance records to defend the case. “Bloody typical. That Glenda is just interested in getting her records digitised for Mark Gettit’s new portal, and Carly is never around to help.”
© 2006 Straits Knowledge OzWater 12. There’s a rumour going round that Danny Digges has been fired after a shouting match between him and Charlie Franks over the Middle East project. However, Jane Mawe tells you he resigned, after being headhunted by SchwartzWasser, the giant German-owned utilities corporation. “We beat them for the Middle East deal” she says, “so they’re going after the guy that swung it. Everyone will be pleased to see him go, he’s always getting us into trouble. He never discusses anything with Engineering and lands them in trouble every time.”
© 2006 Straits Knowledge OzWater 13.Your KM consultant has come back with the knowledge audit report, and it’s grim reading. She’s mapped out all the key knowledge areas covered across Australian operations, but she reports that OzWater is heavily “silo-ized” and has no consistent information management processes or standards. Furthermore, “lack of integration with management of records means that OzWater is susceptible to major business risks through litigation”. She is also highly critical of the portal specifications, stating that the resource provision for taxonomy development is inadequate, and the change management plan has no provision for aligning information and records policies and practices with the goals of a central repository. You discuss the report briefly with Carly on the phone, and agree with her to table this report for your next KM update briefing for the senior management team next week.
© 2006 Straits Knowledge OzWater 14.You have a meeting with the Records Manager Glenda Blane, to follow up on the KM consultant’s report. She agrees that there has been a history of poor integration of records with information management by the engineering managers. “However, the KM consultant didn’t speak to me about this survey at all – this sounds like Jane Mawe’s propaganda. She is always trying to get me to fire- fight, when we are trying to act strategically. Once we get all our records digitized and on the portal, we won’t have any more of these problems. If I have to drop everything every time she needs a particular document, then we’ll never get it done.” She tells you that the digitization project is already under way, and covers current as well as back records from all of OzWater’s Australian operations. “Mark Gettit has been very supportive” she says, “which is more than I can say for my own boss, Dhasha.”
© 2006 Straits Knowledge OzWater 14.Your planned quarterly KM update meeting with the senior management team is abruptly cancelled. Apparently there’s a high level visit from a bunch of German executives. Jane Mawe thinks the Board has decided to call them in to help on the Middle East project. “Charlie Franks is convinced we can’t deliver on this project on our own. He keeps saying we need a partner to cover our risk.”
© 2006 Straits Knowledge OzWater 15.There’s another press blow-up. “Forty-five minutes” an investigative reporting TV show, has done a feature on “Water Woes”. OzWater features heavily in it, and the programme claims the company is responsible for sewage leaks in Argentina, irrigation disasters in Thailand, and a bribery scandal in Indonesia, not to mention being tangled up in multiple lawsuits in Australia. The presenter ends the programme by asking “Is this the image that Australian business wants to export to the rest of the world?” The share price goes into a nose dive, and Carly and all the top executives go into damage control. Jane is the only optimistic one. “Now they’ll take their records management seriously.”
© 2006 Straits Knowledge OzWater 16.You have been trying to get Suresh to a meeting on the “Getting up to speed” project with Dhasha, but he’s never around. Finally, you catch him at his desk and he says “Look, can’t you see it’s chaos around here? We’re in the middle of a media feeding frenzy, all our projects are under review, and I’ve just been told we’ve acquired a desalination company in Singapore. How the hell I’m supposed to integrate them is anybody’s guess. Come back next year.”
© 2006 Straits Knowledge OzWater 17.You have sent several s to Mark Gettit and Roy Stead about the taxonomy issue. You stress the importance of having a taxonomy to organize the contents of the portal. They don’t respond until you cc your request to Carly, Doug Simes and Charlie Franks. Then you get a two line reply that says “The taxonomy issue is already in hand. We’ll be using the records management classification scheme.”
© 2006 Straits Knowledge OzWater 18.Carly, who has been travelling non-stop since the departure of Danny Digges, announces that she’s going on extended non-paid leave “for family-related reasons.” Her portfolio is temporarily assigned to Doug Simes, Deputy CEO and Finance Director.
© 2006 Straits Knowledge OzWater 19.Your KM consultant is shocked at the reply on the taxonomy issue. “Are they kidding? The only people who know how to use a records classification scheme are the records managers! The engineers will be up in arms. They call the registry “the Black Hole” already. That’s one of the main reasons they are hoarding their documents.” She suggests you use the knowledge audit results to draft a more user-oriented alternative. You ask for a meeting with the consultant, Glenda, Dhasha and Suresh to discuss it, saying it’s urgent. At the back of your mind you’re thinking this might also be a chance to get everybody on board with the “Getting up to speed” project.
© 2006 Straits Knowledge OzWater 20.Doug Simes calls you in to brief him on the status of the KM projects. He seems thorough and sympathetic and listens to your report very carefully. He agrees with you that a firmer line on information management policy is required, but he seems less interested in the other KM projects. He’s also surprised at the negative comments about records management. “Glenda is very good, she’s been with us since year one. If there’s any document you need, she can get it straight away. I only worry that she’s reaching retirement age. We need to capture what she knows.”
© 2006 Straits Knowledge OzWater 21.You’re going to your “showdown” meeting with Dhasha, Suresh and Glenda, with your KM consultant. Jane asks if she can join you. “I can’t work like this” she says. “Glenda just sent me a scanned pdf of an engineering drawing that is barely readable. I need the original for our lawyers, our opponents are saying the original design was modified without their consent. She won’t talk to me any more. Can I come and sort this out once and for all?”
© 2006 Straits Knowledge OzWater 22.The meeting does not go well. Glenda tells Jane that she can’t guarantee they still have the original copy of the engineering drawing. “We can’t hold onto everything you know, and Doug Simes gave us explicit instructions to make savings on our storage costs.” Jane leaves in a huff. Neither Suresh nor Dhasha turn up, so it’s up to you and your KM consultant to try and convince Glenda to let you see the records classification scheme, so that it can be assessed for suitability. Glenda says “We don’t have hard copy of the whole scheme, I’ll have to get it printed out from the system. We have different schemes for the different operations so it will take some time. Anyhow, I don’t know what you are worried about, the portal consultants are already importing it into their system.” You decide to appeal to Doug Simes.
© 2006 Straits Knowledge OzWater 23.Doug tells you that Carly has resigned, and that there will be some restructuring. He says “I think KM needs to be closer to the operations, so people can see the value.” He promises to let you know as soon as a decision is made.
© 2006 Straits Knowledge OzWater 24.You receive a call from a headhunter. “Our client, a project engineering firm, is looking for a Director of Knowledge Management and your name came up. Would you like to be considered for the post?”
© 2006 Straits Knowledge OzWater 25.Suresh calls you up and apologises for his absence. “It’s been crazy the last few months. Look, both Doug and Charlie think that KM is much better off looking at the project management processes and the record-keeping out of projects. How would you feel about moving over to the Engineering Division and helping me?”
© 2006 Straits Knowledge OzWater 26. Human Capital launch their new competency framework just in time for the annual performance review. As you’re browsing it on the HC webpage, you notice that the navigation structure for the competency framework, and also the training directory, both have some similarities with the structure of your knowledge map. When you show it to your KM consultant, she agrees with you: “Between the knowledge map, the competency map and the training directory, it shouldn’t be too difficult to put together a workable taxonomy for the knowledge-base.” You haven’t yet seen the records classification scheme, so you send Glenda a reminder.
© 2006 Straits Knowledge OzWater 27.When you get in to work, the whole company is buzzing. OzWater has been acquired in a takeover by the German company SchwartzWasser. The joint press release from both companies states “We do not anticipate any redundancies in the near term, though some rationalisation will need to take place.” As part of the deal, “Gruff” Petersen and Charlie Franks are both taking early retirement. Doug Simes is interim CEO. You recall reading a case study on SchwartzWasser’s use of knowledge management to support virtual teams across the organization.
© 2006 Straits Knowledge OzWater 28. Doug Simes calls you into his office. “Glenda has resigned. I’ll need you to take over the records management portfolio for the time being. I’m transferring all the KM and records projects over to Mark Gettit, since they all feed into his portal, so you’ll be reporting to him from now on.”
© 2006 Straits Knowledge OzWater Focus Questions What should David do? What should OzWater do in relation to its knowledge, information and records management? What else do you need to know to help your future decisions? What did OzWater get right, and what did it get wrong? What are the key learning points for knowledge, information and records management generally?
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