Client Successes

How Huawei Finally Realized It Was Time for the Human Side of Knowledge Management

Huawei is the largest telecommunications equipment maker in the world,    headquartered in Shenzhen, China with 120,000 employees around the world. It has had remarkable growth and successes.  Huawei is touted as China’s most globally successful company.

Huawei had twice attempted to implement knowledge management without having achieved the results that had been hoped for. When Huawei contacted Common Knowledge Associates to talk about attempt number three, they knew they wanted to focus on the human side of KM, that is, how to draw on what  people were learning through their on-the-job experience and how to spread that knowledge through conversational processes. 

Common Knowledge Associates put together a team of top notch KM consultants that included myself Nancy Dixon, bringing expertise in tacit knowledge transfer,  Nick Milton, who brought his BP experience and well tested KM processes; Trish Silber, who provided an in-depth understanding of complexity theory; Tom Young, a former BP KM consultant with great implementation experience; and Madelyn Blair, bringing expertise in Appreciative Inquiry and storytelling.

We started our work with Huawei in 2011 and spent several months learning about Huawei’s culture, how they were currently sharing knowledge, and what they wanted to achieve through knowledge management.   Based on that understanding we:

  • Designed a KM strategy for Huawei World Wide
  • Developed over 20 training modules to teach KM process such as peer assist, AARs, retrospects, knowledge assets, and CoP
  • Delivered the face-to-face training to over 100 Huawei KM Professionals
  • Conducted site visits, for 3 Huawei KM professionals, to five outstanding KM organizations, Fluor, ConocoPhillips, 3M, Schlumberger and the US Army CompanyCommand. 
  • Assisted in the implementation of several pilot projects
  • Conducted a 3 day Appreciative Inquiry Summit to develop a KM strategy for 2013 

At the AI Summit we heard many success stories of KM implementation across Huawei. Probably most important, we heard that the term “knowledge management” is taking on new meaning inside of Huawei. KM  no longer stands for a repository rather KM has begun to be viewed as a way to improve processes and to make use of experience so that mistakes are not repeated. 

Common Knowledge Associates continues to consult with Huawei  in 2013 to assist in fully implementing knowledge management

The subtitle of Nancy’s blog is “Conversation Matters”, which I have not found a compelling slogan. Before she guided us through the Appreciative Inquire summit to develop our knowledge management strategy, I was still thinking of some more scientific way of managing collective knowledge by matrix, curves, formula and not surprisingly, a powerful software.

But after the two-day-workshop, I realized that conversation, face to face, with both telling and listening, is the essence of collective knowledge management.  In just two days, my perception of some of my colleagues has been changed forever.  I discovered that many colleagues, whom I did not know before, have done a surprisingly good job at knowledge management. All the knowledge management professionals felt our minds were opened, we now know much more about our status quo, our future steps, and knowledge management itself. We, added together, really have more power.

A workshop is not a production line in which materials are fed and products after processing are output. Many results are discovered through conversation, and grown along the conversation.  Conversation among real people seems to me to be the only way to process the facts and ideas, and come up with useful deliveries - a task no magic formula can do so far. Conversation REALLY matters."

Liu Xuehui, Knowledge Management Engineer at Strategy Planning Department of Huawei Technologies.

The same recommendation in Chinese



研讨会不是生产线,输入一些原材料,加工之后输出一些产品,很多研讨的成果是在交流碰撞的过程当中才发现的,而且是在对话的过程当中持续发展 “生长”出来的,除了人和人之间的对话,任何现成的公式都不可能运算出这样的结果,对话真的管用。 刘雪晖,华为技术有限公司战略规划部知识管理工程师

The Latest From Nancy's Blog

What Clients Say

"Nancy provides strategic insights to ConocoPhillips. Her ideas spawned our knowledge sharing program (still flourishing today). She was instrumental in getting our execs onboard: a company that connects and operates like a global company would drive business value..."

Dan Ranta
Director, Knowledge Sharing, ConocoPhillips

Read More Testimonials

"I am impressed by Nancy’s work on knowledge transfer and sensemaking. Her recent work on collective sense making, harnessing collective wisdom to handle organizational complexity, is ground breaking and fascinating..."

Eric Tsui, Professor, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University and
VP Hong Kong Knowledge Management Society

Read More Testimonials

“I know that Nancy understands better than anyone the difference between mere talking and real communication. She is expert at helping groups of people speak listen authentically and intelligently as an important step toward shared understanding, effective problem solving, and innovative thinking..."

Don Cohen
Managing Editor, NASA ASK Magazine

Read More Testimonials

"HEMA Academie is the largest online academy in the Netherlands, we made the course "Common Knowledge Organizational Learning" because of an interview with Nancy. She is gifted with a special kind of energy and has the power to analyze complex problems as an enthusiastic team player..."

Drs. Helma van den Berg,
Head of production, HEMA Academie

Read More Testimonials

"Working with Nancy, I've seen first-hand the power of collective sensemaking. Bringing analytic tools to bear provided new insights into interdependent activities, overall system functioning, and leverage points. Collective sensemaking helps teams work smarter."

Mike Silver
SVP of Corporate Operations, HealthInsight

Read More Testimonials

"Nancy pulled off a great feat at the US Army KM conference. She got the whole room talking, all 200 of them! It broke the mold of presentation after presentation. The feedback was overwhelmingly, "Let's do more of this at the next conference."

COL Charles Burnett
Deputy Director, Center for Army Lessons Learned, Fort Leavenworth, KS

Read More Testimonials

"Her approach to collective sensemaking drives how we teach knowledge management, facilitate communities of practice, and coach highly effective teams of leaders. There is no better way to create competitive advantage in the 21st Century knowledge environment."

Mike Hower
Chief Learning Officer, Strategic Knowledge Solutions, Inc.

Read More Testimonials

Recent Client Successes

The US Army KM conference had a very traditional format, three or four speakers in a row, with a few minutes of Q&A then on to the next speaker. Working with the conference design committee, we introduced interaction opportunities spread throughout the conference that made a huge difference for participants...
Read More

Ecopetrol, the largest company in Colombia, held a Technological Environment Forum to build a knowledge management strategy for the company through the work of more than 100 leaders. The Forum contacted Nancy and asked her to come to help them understand effective knowledge management strategy...
Read More

Huawei had twice attempted to implement KM without having achieved the results that had hoped for. When Huawei contacted Nancy, they knew they wanted to focus on the human side of KM, drawing on what people were learning through their on-the-job experience and how to spread that knowledge...
Read More

The Institute for Healthcare Improvement is a leading innovator in health and health care improvement worldwide. I have had the pleasure of consulting to IHI, particularly in the area of “spread” for over 10 years. But until recently IHI has not had a knowledge management program or staff...
Read More

We were able to help save the knowledge developed in the canceled NASA Constellation project. Working with NASA’s Dave Lengyel, we brought together engineers from all 10 NASA centers to develop a knowledge capture strategy...
Read More