Oscar Javier Guerra Perdomo, Leader of Knowledge Management Corporate Program of Ecopetrol said, “The work performed in this Technological Environment Forum on KM also helped to break down barriers and paradigms associated with knowledge transfer and collaborative work across the organization, from the skills and competencies of each of those involved, and in this way to meet the new challenges that the company was faced at the time.”
Ecopetrol is the largest company in Colombia. In 2007 they held a Technological Environment Forum to build a knowledge management strategy for the company through the work of more than 100 leaders of tactical and strategic levels. The Forum contacted Common Knowledge Associates, and said, “We are having a meeting to develop a knowledge strategy. We have not had a knowledge strategy and we think we need one now as we get ready to be publicly traded on the stock market. Could you come to our three day meeting and help us figure out what makes an effective knowledge management strategy?”
To obtain the diversity of thought they needed at the meeting, they invited representatives from fifteen MAKE (Most Admired Knowledge Enterprise) winners to speak on the first day of the meeting. Each of them spoke for only 15 minutes. After each presentation time was set aside for small group discussions – not Q&A - but pairs or trios talking together to make sense of what they had just heard.
The second day was devoted to a Knowledge Café (some times called the world cafe) where the Ecopetrol managers worked in small groups to incorporate what they had heard the first day. The Knowledge Café questions were, “What are the critical areas of knowledge that Ecopetrol needs to manage?” and “What KM processes should we focus on to manage that knowledge?”
Those had made presentations the day before also participated in the knowledge café, moving from table to table along with all the managers. After six rounds of the knowledge café, with managers listening to and building on the ideas of other managers from different parts of Ecopetrol, the group began to coalesce around twelve knowledge areas and had also developed ideas about what KM processes would be most useful.
The third day was Open Space where participants selected which of the twelve topic groups they wanted to join, based on their own expertise and interest. The goal of each group was to set up action plans for that critical knowledge area. By the end of the third day the Open Space groups had a plan to implement each of the initiatives they had agreed upon during the Knowledge Café discussions the day before.
Ecopetrol had a knowledge management strategy after three days of convening and conversation – one that 100 top managers were committed to.
Four years later they had 25 Communities of Practice, had held 30 expert meetings to share practices and solve technical problems and help 19 technological environment forums to generate new opportunities to enhance the business strategy of the company. And they has been nominated for the MAKE award.