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Building on Knowledge: Developing Expertise, Creativity and Intellectual Capital in the Construction Professions

ISBN: 978-1-4051-4709-5
320 pages
September 2008, Wiley-Blackwell
Building on Knowledge: Developing Expertise, Creativity and Intellectual Capital in the Construction Professions (1405147091) cover image
This guide shows design practices and other construction professionals how to manage knowledge successfully. It explains how to develop and implement a knowledge management strategy, and how to avoid the pitfalls, focusing on the techniques of learning and knowledge sharing that are most relevant in professional practice. Expensive IT-based ‘solutions’ bought off-the-shelf rarely succeed in a practice context, so the emphasis here is on people-centred techniques, which recognise and meet real business knowledge needs and fit in with the organisational culture.

Knowledge is supplanting physical assets as the dominant basis of capital value and an understanding of how knowledge is acquired, shared and used is increasingly crucial in organisational success. Most business leaders recognise this, but few have yet succeeded in making it the pervasive influence on management practice that it needs to become; that has turned out to be harder than it looks.

Construction professionals are among those who have furthest to go, and most to gain. Design is a knowledge-based activity, and project managers, contractors and clients, as well as architects and engineers, have always learned from experience and shared their knowledge with immediate colleagues. But the intuitive processes they have traditionally used break down alarmingly quickly as organisations grow; even simply dividing the office over two floors can noticeably reduce communication. At the same time, increasingly sophisticated construction technology and more demanding markets are making effective management of knowledge ever more important. Other knowledge-intensive industries (such as management consultancy, pharmaceuticals, and IT), are well ahead in adopting a more systematic approach to learning and sharing knowledge, and seeing the benefits in improved technical capacity, efficiency, customer satisfaction and reduced risk.

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Preface .

Part I Foundations.

1 Introduction.

Paradoxical professionals.

New context, new issues.

What is in this book.

2 Knowledge at Work .

How we learn.

What makes an expert.

Varieties of knowledge.

Putting the pieces together.

3 Strategic Frameworks.

Starting points.

Frameworks for thinking.

Finding conviction.

4 The Challenges of Change.

Why initiatives fail.

Difficulty is normal.

5 Leadership and Other Roles.

Action starts where the buck stops.

Practical leadership.

Other roles.

Knowledge-conscious management.

6 Knowledge Audit and Beyond.

Finding square one.

Audit techniques.

From audit to action plan.

Putting plans into practice.

Part 2 Tools & techniques.

7 The Knowledge-Friendly Office.

Environments matter.

Designing the knowledge-friendly office.

Workplaces for teams.

8 Expanding Networks.

It’s not what you know ….

Help from IT.

Designing networking tools.

9 Learning from Peers.

See one, do one, teach one.

Mentoring in different contexts.

10 Learning from Practice.

Practice: the invisible lab and unsung teacher.

Windows of opportunity.

Foresight: learning from invention.

Hindsight: learning from mistakes — and success.

Choosing cases.

11 Communities of Practice.

Encouraging enthusiasts.

Creating communities.

12 Organisational Memory.

The indispensability of writing.

Deciding what to record, and how.

Capturing knowledge.

Documenting knowledge.

Software frameworks.

13 Personal Knowledge Management.

Equipment for the mind gym.

Developing personal expertise.

Building a bionic memory.

14 Synergies.

IT-enabled synergies.

Creating and sharing knowledge.

Multiple synergies.

Part 3 Knowledge Management in Practice.

15 Introduction to the Case Studies.

16 Aedas.

17 Arup.

18 Broadway Malyan.

19 Buro Happold.

20 ECA.

21 FCB.

22 P&P.

23 Whitbybird.

24 WSP.

25 Foresight and Hindsight.

Epilogue: Where Next for Knowledge Management? .

Further reading

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David Bartholomew has been managing knowledge for over 25 years as a director of research, a business manager, a Royal Academy of Engineering Visiting Professor at De Montfort University and a consultant on innovation.
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  • best practice guide of tried-and-tested techniques

  • practical and user-friendly

  • thorough coverage but well phrased and clearly organised

  • style appropriate to busy professionals as well as to senior students
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