Knowledge Management Framework
Bahrain Centre of Excellence

The Problem

Bahrain government has well established systems since the early 1920’s. Much expertise in all the types of the services and products has grown also since then. Bahrain was amongst the highest Middle East ranked countries in Human Development Index and also the annual Economic Forum reports. However, Bahrain was always ranked low compared to its capacity and internal ability for innovation (Economic Forum Report 2009). Government felt this is linked in its parts of contribution due to not overcoming the challenges of how to continually develop and grow without having knowledge drains which caused lots of inefficiencies in services due to inability to manage demands of services that requires better knowledge utilisation. The problem of missing to have a knowledge transfer as an issue became more important with many government failing to deliver their planned strategies in relevance to public services levels and the loss of many know-how practices in the sector of Engineers and Medical Staff due to the booming of the construction industry and expansion of many private sector healthcare institutions. The trend of having duplicated services that deliver and use the same knowledge assets or target the same service outcome was alarming in areas as important human capital tacit knowledge in the areas of Education, Healthcare, Finance and Infra structure planning.
Up to early 2008 there was no framework in the kingdom that would integrate and value the type of Knowledge Assets and ensure its proper utilisation towards a knowledge economy. Much expertise lost due to the nature of retirement scheme or relocation of the civil service staff to other organisation thus loss of learning curve and organisational sustainability cycle that enhance the government performance as one entity. The situation was to the extent that the government can’t track all its knowledge assets potentials and abilities except that of information based systems. There was no possibility for explicit and tacit knowledge tracking, since there is no identification of assets. In June 2008, the prime minister of Bahrain announced the establishment of the Bahrain Centre of Excellence where it’s main to re-establish the government main processes and realign the practices towards a competitive and sustainable government with clearly established knowledge economy framework. The centre managed to attract about 50 public organizations in the first 3 years during which helped to establish excellence club with about 400 members, above 80 of them are prepared as potential government experts through a technique of unstructured learning (learning by doing government innovative projects / initiatives). Also, during the same time more 300 government main processes have been identified. Each main process is identified with measurable KPIs and also type of knowledge assets (both tacit and explicit type).

Solution and Key Benefits

 What is the initiative about? (the solution)
In 2009 the government of Bahrain had no knowledge asset list at all; i.e. repeated knowledge assets are available in many ministries, but the government might not be able to know it is there and where it is exactly. Today as we approach 3 years from this program we have identified more than 1800 important knowledge assets be it knowledge relevant to know-how (human calibres, experience, procedures, etc.); know what, know who and know why. Most of these knowledge assets are not explicit knowledge, but rather tacit knowledge. The results shows major change in utilisation of knowledge management practices as a tool for enhancing the public service improvements. The qualitative examples of KM practices are based on the establishment of Communities of Practice that are specialised in innovation, measurement labs, customer satisfaction initiative, integration initiatives and competitiveness practices. The integration initiatives would use the multi-disciplinary and horizontal (country knowledge capital) to push for new government approaches.
These practices enhanced the know-what of the government organisation so now each organisation through its full understanding of the Key Business Factor can properly make a self diagnosis and bring in its suitable internal expertise which helps in accumulating of experiences in the organisation own Human Capital. The social engineering and networking practices enhanced also the knowledge sharing within the government and now we have something in Bahrain that is very unique and rarely to find in other governments that are people from different organizations they coordinate to help each other to be more competitive. The movement of success stories presented to the centre this year (Success Stories Gathering of 2011) shows that many organizations have started to measure their performance and plan according to actual performance. The (Improvement Effectiveness Lab) which is one of the 13 labs proposed by the Bahrain Excellence Centre (BCE) given boosting to way whole government deals with non-compliance or areas for improvement or customer complaints. These are all now a source for knowledge that is registered and affect the overall change management planning scenarios. Annually (in the last three years in June) a journey is made from the senior ministers and selected leading external government experts is established to evaluate the culture of excellence in each public organisation with specific focus on the knowledge management practices within the government. It worth to mention that this journey usually have a visit from the prime minister himself where he comments on the progress made and encourage the importance of this unique program. In the early 2011 the government also announced that it have changed all its program to what is called (Government Working Program) which is based on the learning collected in the last 3 years.

Today we are moving towards a new initiative in coordination with Retired Employees Society (an NGO for retired employees) that would define the type of assets we have in Bahrain among those retired and which can be utilised for the benefit of the knowledge economy.

Actors and Stakeholders

 Who proposed the solution, who implemented it and who were the stakeholders?
The solution was directed by the Prime Minister of Bahrain and implemented by all the government organizations with the support Bahrain Centre of Excellence which is sponsored by the Prime Minister Court. Even though the knowledge management framework came from the BCE , all the government organizations participating in the program considered partners and give feedback to its improvements through special circle groups or through the frequent “night gatherings” that all the nationals experts are invited to every fortnight. Currently few government organizations started to use focus groups, well designed surveys to get sustained constructive feedback from the concerned parties citizen, beneficiaries, private sector and also the NGO’s. It is worth to mention that the vision of Bahrain 2030 specified the need to implement Knowledge Economy practices however failed to specify how. This initiative addressed the how of achieving 2030 by starting with identifying all the knowledge assets that the country have and can utilise in the public sector. This should help to push further to valuation of cost centres which the government is trying to implement for many years.

(a) Strategies

 Describe how and when the initiative was implemented by answering these questions
 a.      What were the strategies used to implement the initiative? In no more than 500 words, provide a summary of the main objectives and strategies of the initiative, how they were established and by whom.
The strategies for the KM framework were developed based on the collective expertise of three senior ministers from the government, BCE Expert and the intellectual experience of the Bahraini volunteer consultants whom acted on behalf of the government to support such an initiative to effectively implemented. The strategy is based on three main phases where K-Assets would be identified and evaluated , then practices of K-Transfer would be enhanced among the organizations through different means, then K-Capture schemes and enablers would be encourages. Every governmental entity is encouraged to innovate on these stages and establish the most suitable framework based on their Key Business Factors, i.e. University of Bahrain have different KM framework approach than Ministry of Health or Electricity and Water Authority, but at the end of the day what matters what they are adding the process of decision making and whether they’ve all managed to bring in Knowledge Economy practices.

(b) Implementation

 b.      What were the key development and implementation steps and the chronology? No more than 500 words
Stage One- Establishment of K-Assets for all the government entities (2009-2010)
Stage Two-Utilisation of available K-Asset for knowledge transfer & K-Sharing (as integration projects, best practices visits, selling or utilising K-Assets , etc) (2011-2012)
Stage Three- Establishment of Advanced Knowledge Economy Practices that brings in up to 20% of the Bahrain Government Revenue.

In stage Two specifically some of the K-Assets are selected as initiatives through Bahrain Excellence National Experts program.

(c) Overcoming Obstacles

 c.      What were the main obstacles encountered? How were they overcome? No more than 500 words
The main obstacles for establishing KM framework in Bahrain government is that most of the government entities are not used to quantify the K-Assets. However, the other main obstacle is about the level of trust within the culture, where still more than 50% believe that Knowledge is power and not the management of knowledge is the real power. Besides, most of government entities are not used to account for non-tangible assets as tacit or explicit knowledge. Thus, and as a counter-measure BCE established criteria for assessing amount of K-Sharing program and started to learning by doing programs across the government entities where best practices can be shared by the different government consultants trained in BCE. Also, now the unstructured learning program became a popular means to transfer the different expertise within the government senior officials where deep dialogues are established to trigger thoughts.
There are still different legislative obstacles as the presence of Civil Service Ministry regulations that doesn’t encourage leaner and innovative accountability with its current style of human capital development. Till date no carrier paths, appraisals and salaries schemes that would compatible to knowledge assets value. The BCE is still striving to change lots of these rigid systems which prevent tacit knowledge from being flourished.

(d) Use of Resources

 d.      What resources were used for the initiative and what were its key benefits? In no more than 500 words, specify what were the financial, technical and human resources’ costs associated with this initiative. Describe how resources were mobilized
The main resources used were the government organizations human capital which was based on the BCE method that utilise “Total People Involvement” in order to enhance “Accelerated Learning”. None of the resources cost money, except of the BCE expert salary and time given for specifying the knowledge assets related values, processes and key performance indicators. About 40% of the work done during the official and the rest (60%) is executed in the staff volunteer time as part of supporting Bahrain to become a better competent government. In the year 2012 BCE would get the e-government authority to establish a holistic based e-framework where K-Assets would be directly shared based on the type of the development projects approved by the government – considering the whole government as one entity. Today the government understand that if the Bahraini’s can discover a hidden gem like this they might as well come up with more initiatives that pushes more savings or generate better cost centres.

Sustainability and Transferability

  Is the initiative sustainable and transferable?
The Government of Bahrain KM framework initiative is very much based on both the commitment of the government to such Knowledge Economy unique approach and the voluntary efforts of the many Communities of Practice established by the BCE national experts program. The program managed to spread practices and culture that now appreciates what means knowledge assets and that surely understand the importance of Human Capital and partnership knowledge capturing as a value. The same K-Assets Framework program is already starting by January 2012 for private sector with focus on boosting competitiveness through optimisation of tacit knowledge between mainly SME’s and large organisations. Also, the champions of the program (called BCE consultants) are trainers for this initiative in organizations and some have managed to put in even academic and technical papers in the subject.
Now, all the government entities are asked to represent quarterly reports about utilisation of their resources as per KPI’s specified. The participation and involvement in the program have become a mandatory for any organisation receives budget from the government. The annual success stories conference also became an activity that have to be prepared for where knowledge achievements have to be shared between all the 60 government entities with specific care about how the human capital or knowledge assets are utilised. Today, because of identification of the type of calibres we have in the government we have almost all the annual jury members from Bahrain. Also the initiative helped to re-align the direction of the government executives, especially after they witnessed the level of exposure and interest of top decision makers in the country about utilisation of internal resources, i.e. Knowledge assets to make profit or savings.
Even though many developed and some leading developing countries have established a Knowledge Economy Strategy, there are practically few well known initiatives that have identified knowledge assets (both tacit and explicit knowledge) throughout the government entities and based on the identification of the main process and Key Business Factors of all the government delivered services or products. The simplicity of the approach compared to its influence make it a source of inspiration for even the developing countries since it is very simple to initiate and doesn’t need lots of resources. Such initiative should help any country to prepare itself and even start to compete in optimisation of resources to meet the knowledge economy demands. The initiative should help to create a paradigm shift for the decision makers in any country.

Lessons Learned

 What are the impact of your initiative and the lessons learned?
The initiative today inspired lots of organizations to utilise its internal resources and to look again about the issue of measurement all its practices to create success stories. The main lessons learned from this initiative is the government is rich with resources that if well utilised can make itself sustained entities and be a source of income to the country. Just to give an example of type of connectivity and innovation of services this initiative brings in between the organisation and the society the police in Bahrain started to held workshops with the total involvement of the community in the areas of risk management and risk register identification for all the critical areas in Bahrain. What police did is part of the knowledge assets framework utilisation where all the expetese directly or indirectly involved with risk management in all the government entities, schools, hospitals, petrochemical industries, ports, airports, tourism, etc attended workshop to identify together the type and level of risks. Also, the workshop identified the type of mitigation programs that need to be done utilising the countries knowledge asset; i.e. beyond police forces.
The lessons learned is that human capital in the government is full of potential and expertise where techniques as unstructured learning as team work on national initiatives can bring lots of improvements to government services while also building its capacity. The other lesson learned is that all governments can have a major leap towards knowledge economy by having simple, but focus identification of its knowledge assets with specific care on the tacit knowledge which is the hidden treasures and real fortune of any country. Today the government of Bahrain have knowledge Assets Bank and most of the organizations strategies address the development and utilisation of such resource while executing its operational plans. Most of the organizations appreciate now that what matters is not the employee title, but the assets he carries for fate of the government competitiveness.
Every organisation is followed up for developing and updating both a communication model that would ensure the proper utilisation of knowledge assets along with maturity matrix for full utilisation within 3 years. Even though Bahrain doesn’t have a Knowledge Asset Strategy, the BCE preparing specific guideline for developing such strategy for each government entity and specific workshop would be conducted for this purpose in March 2014. The impact of the initiative now reflected in all the types of processes and practices identified by the government entities. The initiative would have an echo in the reviewed prices and laws of the services and products offered. This initiative is believed to lead the way of re-aligning the resources within the Gulf Cooperation Council if adopted regionally.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Bahrain Centre of Excellence
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Mohammed Bujeji
Title:   Expert  
Telephone/ Fax:  
Institution's / Project's Website:  
Postal Code:  
Country:   Bahrain

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