A revolution in the sharing of knowledge…

Transforming e-Knowledge  
TABLE OF CONTENTS     Vignettes from the e-Knowledge Future
© SCUP 2003
back page   Page 39   next page    

Tales from the Not-So-Distant Future (continued)


Chapter 2

Vignettes from the e-Knowledge Future

book image
Book Purchase

Case Studies
Contact us


Masazumi Sato —
Manager, Nippon Roche Pharmaceuticals, Japan

Nippon Roche is a pharmaceutical division of the global Swiss healthcare company, Roche Group. Masazumi Sato has worked for them for the past 15 years, rising to the role of manager of a marketing and sales team. In the 1990s, Nippon Roche struggled in a difficult business climate, fighting fierce competition, stagnating market growth, and fundamental industry realignment. Understanding and meeting the needs of customers was seen as a critical element to establishing advantage in this environment. So Nippon Roche launched the Super Skill Transfer (SST) Project in 1998. This initiative focused on leveraging and integrating the tacit knowledge developed by the firm’s front-line medical representatives (MR) in their engagement with medical doctors.

Exemplary Transformed Elements

  • Tacit knowledge captured and shared with every employee through stories
  • Strategic learning to the desktop, laptop, PDA
  • Strategic, enterprise learning driven by changes in corporate strategy, goals, new products
  • Manager and employees as knowledge and learning activists
  • Tacit knowledge insights collected across multinational divisions of Roche Group
  • e-Knowledge for secondary marketplaces is a profit center

Capturing Core Beliefs and Effective Practices. Earlier efforts had failed to improve sales through training or capturing best practices. In observing high-performing MRs, leadership observed they learned by doing and by improvising to create solutions. So Nippon Roche brought 24 of its best performers together for a six-week process of exploring the fundamental questions of their mission and ideal roles.


In the process, these high performers revealed their core beliefs and captured in stories and metaphors the tacit knowledge that was key to success. Management used satellite TV as part of an integrated platform to share explicit and tacit knowledge throughout the enterprise. The benefits have gone far beyond sales process innovation to continuous innovation throughout the organization.

Pervasive Knowledge Systems.
In the past five years, Nippon Roche has built upon the success of the SST initiative. It has created a pervasive knowledge management system that is used by employees at their desktop, laptop, PDA, or other interactivity platform. Employees can access, seamlessly and easily, a vast range of insight on their products and their application. Moreover, the customer relationship management (CRM) component of the portal provides each MR insight on the past history and preferences of individual medical doctors, information that is critical in problem-solving and solution-creating sessions with the client. Finally, the MR can use the system to interact with Sato or other experts to brainstorm solutions and possible approaches. The knowledge system captures syntheses of the best questions, discussions and insights, which can be searched and accessed by Sato or other MRs using intelligent agents.

Widely understood, internalized tacit knowledge is the key to Nippon Roche’s success in the Japanese marketplace. Continuous, rapid changes in the marketplace require this knowledge to be synthesized, updated, and shared with far greater speed than in the past.

Guided and Energized by a Knowledge and Learning Activist. Sato’s role is that of knowledge and learning activist. He personally interacts with all of his MRs and encourages them to share progress and insights with the knowledge systems and one another.


The importance of tacit knowledge is understood throughout the team. Sharing of insight is an indicator of personal performance that is evaluated and accounts for 20% of an individual’s compensation.

Enterprise Learning for Everyone. When Nippon Roche changes strategy or introduces a new product or service, Sato and his MRs have a personalized learning program “pushed” to them via the enterprise knowledge management system. In addition, MRs can elect a variety of personalized learning experiences to extend their skills. The MRs can engage these materials anywhere—in their offices/ work area, conference and meeting settings at Nippon Roche, at home, or in other settings. They also can choose a variety of modes of presentation/ engagement — text, graphics, and/ or audio presentation. Many of the MRs choose to listen to materials using headphones during their long train rides in the morning and evening. The MRs can also engage Sato, other MRs, and other key resources to ask questions or suggest additional insights. New product launches typically are accompanied by group meetings or video conferences to build commitment and to discuss implications and implementation issues.




back page   Page 39   next page

|  TOP  |