Instilling a Knowledge-Sharing Culture
Building a Foundation for Knowledge Sharing in Research and Development
Business Issue

One of Europe’s largest research-oriented pharmaceutical and diagnostic product companies wanted to embed a knowledge-sharing culture into its worldwide research and development (R&D) organization. The company’s executives desired a culture that would more readily collaborate, share knowledge, and recognize and reward knowledge-sharing behaviors. They launched a knowledge-sharing initiative with three goals:

  • Facilitate collaboration. They wanted their R&D staff to quickly find recognized experts who had addressed the same or similar issues.
  • Improve access to R&D content. They wanted to quickly find relevant content using enhanced search across multiple repositories.
  • Link and harmonize their internal, disparate knowledge sharing projects. They wanted to create common platforms for encouraging collaboration and measuring their knowledge-sharing activities.

The company asked Iknow to assist with two elements of their knowledge-sharing initiative: identifying the organizational and behavioral roadblocks of instilling a knowledge-sharing culture, and recommending software tools that could enable the new knowledge-sharing environment.


Iknow started by defining the specific business requirements regarding access to experts and content. The project team conducted extensive diagnostic interviews in Europe and the United States. Iknow’s deliverables for this work stream included detailed interview results and a requirements summary for future state. The requirements summary covered business requirements, content and content architecture requirements, functional requirements, and organizational, governance, and change management requirements. Iknow also outlined other characteristics of successful knowledge-management program implementations.

A second work stream identified specific types of commercial software packages that enable various aspects of knowledge sharing. Specifically, the Iknow team analyzed the functional requirements, matched the requirements to commercially available technologies, developed selection criteria for knowledge-sharing solutions, and evaluated and recommended specific software packages. Iknow’s deliverables for this work stream included a software vendor analysis and an evaluation of commercial software products. The technology recommendations focused on an expertise and learning portal, an author/expert contribution portal, a content management system, and advanced search and content discovery tools.

A high-level design document and an implementation roadmap were also created.


The company’s senior executives understood that this initiative would provide the foundation for transforming the R&D organization into a knowledge-sharing environment. Desired tangible benefits included streamlined decision making due to faster access to experts and expertise; increased productivity from reduced rework and the reduced effort spent in locating data and documents; and higher-quality R&D outputs.

The company used the outputs from this project to guide its knowledge-sharing initiative.

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