Then there is the question of motivation for the knowledge behaviors that Hill & Knowlton is trying to elicit. Worldwide Director of KM Services Ted Graham and his colleagues are to be credited for worrying about motivation. They've established several motivational mechanisms -- rewarding managers for their units' sharing behaviors, trying to confer reputational benefits and giving away the cutely named "beenz" for knowledge accesses.
But my experience suggests that what drives desirable knowledge behaviors is not these little trinkets, but rather real rewards -- promotions and salary increases. The kinds of rewards used in this case suggest that the company cares about knowledge management, but only about as much as participating in the United Way campaign. In a knowledge-intensive business like public relations, the best knowledge creators, sharers and users should inherit not beenz but the Earth.
For security purposes, access is customized for each user, too. For example,
employees have access to a client channel only if they're working on that account. And
degrees of access vary from "read only," where all they can do is view certain
documents, to "edit," where they can alter or delete files. Clients, obviously, can
access only their own channels.
The company rolled out hK.net to three practice groups and regions starting in
October 1999. After a successful trial run, the system was rolled out to the rest of
the organization this January, and so far it seems to be a hit among H&K employees.
Angela Bartolucci, a Toronto-based employee, says it's a big time-saver. For example,
Bartolucci spends about half her time marketing the company to prospective clients, an
activity that includes putting together "credential packages" that highlight the
business' experience in a particular industry. The package includes descriptions of
past projects as well as bios of staff who'd be involved in the account. Frequently,
the elements she needs have already been created
by someone else at H&K for a different package. "[In the past] we'd be reinventing the
wheel each time," she says. "Now, through hK.net, we'll have access to all this
information not only across Canada, but all over the world."
HK.net also eases the transition when a key employee departs, says Lorraine
Doherty, account director for the company's advanced technology practice. "When people
leave in midproject, I'm fairly comfortable that whatever they're working on is posted
on the extranet," she says. "We no longer have to search through a hard drive, worrying
that the knowledge is either somewhere it shouldn't be or just in the employee's head."