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Corporate Development for a Networked World

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Recycling Knowledge From Active Project Work

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Bruce Donnelly   bruce@gdi-solutions.com    (Biography)

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Introduction

A lot of hard work can go into the planning of investment projects.  GDI Solutions offers a feedback process to share the benefits of such work in a professional manner, while respecting the needs for confidentiality or protection of proprietary knowledge which should not be shared.

For additional details, please scroll down and also refer to the sections on "Sharing Proven Solutions" and "Sharing Lessons Learned".

Before discarding valuable work on active projects, whether or not the plans were implemented, please consider the option of "recycling" useful knowledge through GDI Solutions so that others may benefit through our shared knowledge base.  You may also be the beneficiary of such knowledge from others.

For example, as executives evaluate competing business locations or service providers, they develop knowledge which might be very helpful to others so each investor doesn't have to "reinvent the wheel".  Some research may be proprietary, whether to the company or professional advisors who performed the research work, but some can be shared.  Even if details cannot be shared openly, it may be possible to identify the existence and scope of such knowledge, and who to contact.

Similarly, area representatives and service providers can benefit from shared knowledge to the extent that valuable "lessons learned", timely information, and useful contacts can be separated from any of their confidential or proprietary work among investors.

For Corporate Executives

Even the largest companies may not have an organized "debriefing" or "knowledge management" process to enhance the "institutional memory" about the "lessons learned" or valuable information and services which were identified through the project planning process.

Another complicating factor is that major investment projects may be fairly infrequent in a company, particularly within a single business division or location.  This increases the tendency to think of each project as a unique event, rather than as a process which develops some highly valuable knowledge which should be preserved, or as a process which might benefit from the knowledge shared by others.

The executives who work on the plans for a project in one location may never again face that task, while other executives working in the same company on other projects may not even know much about prior projects, or who was involved, or how key issues were addressed.  Frequently, the executives who took key decisions may have already left the company, or their memory about the process may be limited, and any records about their work may have been destroyed.

An external, shared knowledge management process

GDI Solutions can provide an external solution to the challenge of developing and managing such a shared knowledgebase about work in this niche.  As part of the ongoing working relationship with key executives at participating companies, the assigned relationship leader can help to document the "lessons learned" and separate what can be shared externally from any knowledge which is deemed by the responsible executives to be proprietary or confidential.

This means that such knowledge can be shared in the future within the company, as well as externally as appropriate.  Project planners at the company can expect to benefit from similar initiatives among peers at other corporate participants in the services of GDI Solutions.

In this manner, valuable knowledge can be shared rather than discarded as the work on project plans develops.  Whether or not a particular project is ever implemented, there may be very valuable knowledge which was developed throughout the planning process.  The best time to capture such knowledge is during the actual planning work, rather than through interviews or research work afterwards.  The relationship leader is in a good position to do this, and to also apply judgment about knowledge which is new and potentially valuable to share with others in the future, because that is the focus of our work.

Over time, this process makes it possible for all participating companies to benefit from the shared experience of all the companies which choose to share such knowledge.  This complements other feedback processes, from the structured research work of the GUIDE Experience Reports to the more informal feedback through working relationships or the sharing of "lessons learned" and "proven solutions" as explained in another section.

Sharing knowledge developed with other types of participants

GDI Solutions is also able to develop related knowledge through the support of project plans among professional service providers and area representatives, limited once again by the extent to which they are willing to share knowledge of a non-confidential or non-proprietary nature as a quid pro quo for being the beneficiary of such knowledge.

Aside from sharing the non-proprietary knowledge gained from project research work, such as to address particular planning issues, corporate executives can also benefit by sharing their experiences with specific service providers or area representatives, whether through informal feedback or the more formal process of interviews for the GUIDE Experience Reports.  This, in turn, makes it easier for all such corporate participants to benefit from greater knowledge about relevant services whenever they are needed.

Networking among peers

Finally, as explained further in the section on Referrals from corporate executives to corporate executives, participants may encounter peers in other divisions of the company, or in other companies, who have project responsibilities and are not yet aware of GDI Solutions or the support services which can be introduced.

Without the need to share any sensitive knowledge about the specific project plans of such peers, participating executives can either suggest that they look into GDI Solutions, or can suggest who we should call to introduce ourselves.

This process can help GDI Solutions to rapidly develop a far more valuable service and a much larger network of corporate executives with responsibilities for direct investment project decisions, which should benefit all such participants.  As more companies, executives, and major investment project plans are supported, there will be more useful knowledge to be shared.

Helping the "invisible hand" in the pursuit of self-interests

The growth of the network of corporate relationships also obviously reinforces the attraction of the entire process for the participants who are funding these free services for corporate executives.

Supply is eager to meet Demand, and vice versa.

It should be in the interest of all the professional service providers and area representatives for GDI Solutions to work together with them to develop independent, ongoing support relationships among as many executives as possible so that their own services can be introduced quickly and easily whenever they may be relevant to the needs of such executives.  A more efficient marketplace should become the "rising tide which raises all boats".  Their participation creates such a market.

The "recycling" of project knowledge therefore combines with other aspects of the referrals process and the relationship development and research work of GDI Solutions to greatly enhance the value which can be delivered to corporate executives and all other participants.

This will take some time and a lot of cooperation among many participants to fully develop, but if successful it should transform the process of planning major direct investment projects worldwide. 

The vision is to turn the global economic development profession into an effective "one stop shop" as a global network through which any executive can, through contact with any point in the network, anywhere in the world, be connected quickly and easily to other relevant contacts so that investment decisions develop faster and better.

At the local level, such professionals already maintain contact with leading companies and the top executives in their areas.  They may have difficulty getting in the door elsewhere, but they are in a good position to be very helpful to top executives within their own area of responsibility.  That creates the potential for mutual benefit in areas all over the world by working together at the local level.

That's "Corporate Development for a Networked World", for investment "From Anywhere, To Anywhere".

 

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For Area Representatives

Thousands of economic development organizations invest heavily in marketing activities each year to try to identify and reach the executives responsible for major projects on a timely basis and compete for their investments.

Unfortunately, even if an area reaches a final "short list" of perhaps five competing locations, that still means 80% of those organizations which are doing a lot of hard work to try to win the project are eventually going to be disappointed.  Many compete, but few are chosen, and some apparently good "leads" never turn into real projects for anyone.

Of course, those who didn't even reach the "short list", or perhaps even get onto the initial "long list" for a relevant project, are even more disappointed by the return on their marketing efforts and investments.

In short, finding "hot" prospects for investment in one location with limited marketing resources is a daunting challenge.  It is the proverbial search for a needle in a haystack, or indeed a world full of haystacks.

Nobody expects area representatives to share "hot" project leads which they have found through their marketing investments, and still believe they might be able to win for their location.  Even though we might be able to introduce additional non-competing services or useful information to help the area to better serve the investor, the reality is that few participants are likely to share their own "hot" project leads.  They are too rare and valuable.

The 99% solution : unleashing high value in all "qualified leads"

On the other hand, perhaps as much as 99% of the qualified "real project" leads identified through the marketing efforts for an area turn out, at some point in the subsequent follow-up process, to not be viable for the area to "win", for whatever reason.

GDI Solutions may still be able to add high value for those executives after the area is no longer a contender for the project.  The company may need professional help evaluating the preferred locations, or developing some aspects of their plans, or implementing the project.

In short, we can still make good use of a real project "lead" after it would be discarded by others who know it is no longer relevant to their own capabilities.  Somebody else can perhaps still help that investor.

In effect, imagine the potential impact of sharing the knowledge which thousands of professionals spending millions of dollars in marketing investments develop each year.  Instead of discarding 99% of such work because the qualified leads don't eventually turn out to be a match for their specific location or service, 100% of the real projects which are identified can potentially be introduced to the capabilities of other people who can professionally help executives to do what they want.

This changes everything : leveraging sunk marketing costs

Think about the above section for a moment.  Imagine the potential impact on the direct investment world if every real investor can be quickly and easily introduced to the people they want to meet.  It turns the entire economic development profession into a "one stop shop", though which contact with any participant in this process, anywhere in the world, can help an executive find what is sought, quickly and easily.

In short, the "sunk cost" of hard work and marketing investments to develop leads which don't prove to be real prospects for the area can be recycled into a very high value service for every such contact.  You may not be able to help them in your area, but you can help them to find what they are seeking, and develop their project faster and better, without doing any more work than pointing them in our direction.  That can create a lot of good will and high value among investors, and demonstrates the potential value of participation.   After all, you may similarly be the beneficiary of a lead which somebody else abandons.

Whether the "hit rate" for your marketing program is 1% or 10% or any other level, it certainly isn't anywhere close to 100%.  Think about the combined marketing investment and "reach" of all participants.  Now consider the potential value, and good will, generated by helping the executives behind every qualified project lead to quickly and easily find whatever they are seeking, anywhere in the world.  That, after all, is our mission.  There is obviously potential to work together to achieve dramatic efficiencies for the benefit of all participants in this process.

How it works : a very simple and professional referral process

There are obviously constraints on the sharing of any information about project plans which a company has provided in confidence, but there are still three viable alternative ways to "recycle" such project leads.

  •  Inform the executive about our existence, and how to reach us
  •  Alert us if the executive expresses interest in our capabilities
  •  Alert us without necessarily trying to introduce us directly, and without sharing knowledge which might be deemed confidential

First, you can simply inform the contacts about the existence of GDI Solutions as a potentially valuable service, thereby helping to preserve a valued relationship by offering useful advice even though that specific project has already been "lost" for your purposes.  It therefore remains entirely at the discretion of the executive whether to contact GDI Solutions or not about supporting the project.

Alternatively, if the executive doesn't object, you can alert GDI Solutions to the project and the appropriate contact information without sharing any sensitive details, and we can simply follow-up directly with the executive.  In this manner, it also remains entirely at the discretion of the executive whether or not to share project details or use the services of GDI Solutions.  Once again, this is a way to reinforce your own relationship with the executive by trying to be helpful even when a particular project has been "lost".

Finally, there is also the "anonymous tip".  Since GDI Solutions does extensive marketing work to find project "leads" directly, and can pick up information about projects from many sources, there is no need to identify the source of a "tip" to contact a particular executive.

The only constraint is the obvious limitation on the inappropriate sharing of confidential project knowledge.  If we know who to call, or just know that a company has a project, we can professionally take it from there to determine whether the responsible executives may be interested in the support of GDI Solutions.  They can then make their own decisions about how much information to share about their plans.

For Professional Service Providers

The same principle applies as for area representatives, as above.  Once it becomes apparent that you won't be able to provide all of the support which an investor needs, you can still reinforce the relationship by allowing GDI Solutions to introduce other services or location representatives in an independent professional manner. 

For example, you may not wish to refer the executive directly to some other service provider, for a wide variety of reasons, even though you do not compete directly and believe the other service provider may be well qualified to help the executive.

Whether you inform the executives about GDI Solutions, or inform GDI Solutions about who to call to introduce our services, the point is that valuable introductions can reinforce your own working relationship.  We are in the business of making valuable introductions, so there is potential to work together to mutual advantage while providing a very valuable service to the executives who need such referrals..

Similarly, there may be times when you know that GDI Solutions can be of assistance to area representatives or other service providers.  Once again, a helpful introduction at the right time can reinforce your own relationships with such clients or contacts.

There's a very obvious quid pro quo in all of this.  Participants who help us to identify active projects and the responsible executives who may value the support services of GDI Solutions can also expect us to remain very alert for any relevant opportunities for themselves.  We can also consider discounts on our services, since good referrals can have a very direct impact on our own marketing investments and growth.

Corporate executives determine who they want to meet about their projects, but active participation in our referral process and the sharing of useful knowledge demonstrates the ability of all participants to think beyond the scope of what they can do alone.  That should appeal to such investors, and facilitate fast and relevant introductions of high value based upon the sharing of practical market knowledge within the obvious constraints of respect for project confidentiality.

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Copyright 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009  Global Direct Investment Solutions, Inc.      Last modified: 01/27/09