A top-five international recruiter realized there was competitive advantage for its core business in creating an internal knowledge-management function. But what should it look like? More to the point, how should it pay for itself?

CI was engaged to help the recruiter define the nature of its need and to name the elements of an internal KM practice.

The business case virtually made itself. If the firm continued to view search assignments as single-impact events and not as interrelated parts of client relationships—as most recruiters do—it would be forever at risk of losing lucrative search opportunities. Without knowledge sharing the client could not prioritize risks or the growth opportunities available to it. Without knowledge sharing the firm exposed itself to the risk of slower growth. No investment could have a better rationale.

Today the firm is able to "map" leadership talent in companies around the world by identifying individuals responsible for the specific successes of business areas. It analyzes how its client's competitors—in particular their nontraditional competitors—win new business.

Knowledge sharing is also hurrying the firm's rising profile as a strategy consultant—screening acquisition candidates, for example, by providing insights into their managements. Meanwhile, knowledge sharing has given birth to competitive-intelligence products that enable the firm to approach clients with perspectives they need right now rather than waiting out a three-month study.

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