Gurus share knowledge of good practice on web

Executives at British Telecom, British Transport Police and
the Bank of Scotland are among those who have already signed up for a trial
with, an

on-line knowledge bank which was launched this week.

Founded by economist Margaret Ford, who is also former
managing director of The Eglington Management Centre, the site aims to provide
HR professionals with a valuable resource of ideas, leading-edge thinking and
training material from top management personnel around the world.

"It will help HR add considerable value to their
activities and build the profile of training and development hugely. We believe
it will transform the way HR professionals work," says Ford, who had
recognised a lack of international quality standards when it came to the
provision of expert knowledge and training support materials. This, combined with
the Internet’s potential to be more than "just good for one-dimensional
e-learning", gave her the idea for the site.

She commissioned Mori to carry out research in the UK, US
and Australia to test the concept of the site and glean some initial topics for
the Core Knowledge Bank, the hub of the service.’s content has been built around the top 25
issues in management, including mentoring, emotional intelligence, influencing,
talent management, creativity and innovation. Users can access an overview of
the topic, leading thinking and commentary, models and strategies to implement,
case studies on the topic, a toolkit containing skill-building activities,
slide presentations, legislation updates, web links and reference material.

Although the main target market for the site is HR
professionals, much of the material and resources can be accessed by

end learners and during trials most users found the
information easy to access.

"We spent a great deal of time developing it so that it
would be exceptionally easy to use. My view of e-learning isn’t necessarily
that it is badly implemented, more that it is not always the most appropriate
medium," Ford says.

"Our product enables trainers to enhance the quality of
conventional training sessions and massively reduce the time and cost involved
in designing these sessions. In that sense, we offer a complementary product to
e-learning. The material is broad in scope and will be appropriate to most
levels in an organisation."

An annual subscription to the site costs £20,000 (starter
package is £7,500). Ford justifies this by comparing it with the general cost
of training. "£20,000 is probably 12 days of a trainer’s time," she

The site has been in development for more than a year and a
great deal of effort has gone into finding the right contributors.

"We have deliberately gone looking for new talent with
fresh approaches," says Ford, whose stellar line-up includes Professor
David Bolger of Glasgow University Business School, who is a former director of
the Civil Service College and a visiting lecturer at Harvard and Tilburg
Universities; Dr Neal Rosendorf, a senior lecturer at Harvard’s Kennedy School
of Government; Tharon Greene, a former winner of the prestigious Optimas Award,
which recognises the best HR directors in the US; and Alan Halcrow, former
editor of Workforce magazine in the US.

New material is added weekly and the content team comprises
12 core researchers in the UK and US, plus 40 freelance contributors.

The intention is to be market-driven, with the first
subscribers having a strong say in how the product and technology develops.
"We are getting a lot of requests for us to web-enable client material to
sit alongside our knowledge bank," says Ford.

"People are obviously seeing it as an excellent way of
also managing their own intellectual property in-house."

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