What did Jack Welch say about KM?

It’s always interesting to see what CEOs say about KM. Here’s Jack Welch.

jack welchJack Welch, the famous CEO of General Electric, did an excellent job of summarising the business vision for Knowledge Management, when he made this statement in the GE 1996 annual report.

“Our behaviour is driven by a fundamental core belief; the desire and the ability of an organisation to continuously learn from any source, and to rapidly convert this learning into action, is it’s ultimate competitive advantage”

That’s a really clear description of Knowledge Management (continuously learning from any source, and rapidly converting this learning into action), and a great link with the business driver  (ultimate competitive advantage).

Is “Ultimate competitive advantage” a bit strong? Are there other advantages, such as market strength, or brand leadership?

Probably not – even organisations that have been in uniquely competitive positions still need to focus on knowledge management. Knowledge management is big at Microsoft, despite their near monopoly in the business software and operating environment market. De Beers have had a near monopoly of the world diamond market, but have also invested in knowledge management. You need to manage knowledge to be competitive, and to remain competitive, and to keep your monopoly in a rapidly changing world.

So if you are asked about the value Knowledge Management brings, then remember Jack Welch. KM is not about better taxonomies, or  new portal, or about “getting people to be more social”. It’s about building a company that continuously learns, from any source, and turns that knowledge rapidly into action.

Learning – actionable learning – is the only continuously renewable business resource, and therein lies the ultimate competitive advantage that Jack Welch was talking about.

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