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Knowledge Management of British Holding Company

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Executive summary

The underlying report is a knowledge management case study of the HSBC holding plc which is a British holding company operating at a global scale. This case study analysis has incorporated the supportive frameworks and models such as the McKinsey 7S model to analyze the knowledge management functions of HSBC and has formed also incorporated the SWOT analysis tool to briefly identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of its KM/OL system in order to support the strategy formulation. In the second part of the report, a comprehensive strategy has been proposed based on an action plan in order to develop more appropriate knowledge management and organizational learning strategy for HSBC. Mckinsey’s model has been used as a structure and a comprehensive action plan has been proposed for a time of two months in which the strategy is to be implemented to attain the goals and objectives.


HSBC Holdings plc is a British multinational banking and financial services company which is the 7th largest bank all over the globe as per the total assets an its the largest bank of Europe as per the data of 2016. Currently, the geographical location of HSBC’s headquarters is London United Kingdom but it is having its origin from Hong Kong. The origin of this bank lies in Hong Kong and to some extent Shanghai as it opened its branches first in Shanghais. At present, HSBC declared both Hong Kong and the UK as the home markets. This banking company’s network is based on 67 countries and territories in the Middle East, Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America, and North America and it is operating 3,900 offices all over the globe. This banking company is having a vision “to be the greatest specialist banking group globally and to be driven by core philosophies and commitments as well as values”. The mission is to “utilize the international network linked through the technology and provide comprehensive financial services, corporate investment, commercial banking, private banking, and other financial services. The company is having global markets and it is following a long-term strategy in order to capture the value from its international network. Its long-term strategy is based on two parts including the development of an international network and investing in wealth and retail business with the local scale.

As per the annual financial statements of HSBC the company recorded a profit before tax of about 10.2 billion USD which was 0.5 billion USD lower than its profit before tax than the previous year. Moreover, in 2017, the revenues also declined as the revenue in 2017 was 26.2 billion USD which was 3.3 billion USD lower than that in 2016. The banking group is having a global structure that makes the largest financial services, and banking organization. This global structure is connecting it with 38 million customers with a network of 3,900 offices in 67 different territories and countries. This global network is focused on reviving the knowledge management strategies in order to incorporate the use of new technologies and tools which can not only provide it the strategic edge but will also help in regaining the financial strength. It is involved in knowledge audits as well as the knowledge capture projects in order to ensure knowledge transfer in an effective manner. The banking group places high importance in knowledgebase skills, assets, and resources which can help it in increasing the effectiveness of its human capital.

Critique the organization in terms of its OL/KM capabilities

Knowledge management strategy

HSBC is not using any single knowledge management strategy but it is adaptive to a combination of attractive KM strategies. It utilizes the strategy of simple machines such as the use of training programs as well as seminars, it is using technology, utilizing communities of practice to capture and share the knowledge, and is also using the strategy of process-based models such as concept mapping. Its simple mechanism strategy is effective which is based on the training sessions, workshops, apprenticeships, etc where some are face to face and some sessions are web-based. Its technology-driven KM strategy is also effective where it is using It and ICT systems and each technology incorporated is different in nature but the core purpose is the organization, coding, distribution, and maintenance of knowledge-based resources. The process-based models based on concept mapping are not as effective where it maps out the routines, knowledge as well as capabilities which are used as a tool to advance knowledge management. But here, it has ignored the importance of legislative and environmental elements.

KM process described through 7S framework

Shared values

The shared values of HSBC are based on building trust and long-lasting relationships with the corporate stakeholders in order to generate value and shareholder returns. It not only focuses on building connections but also focuses on organizational learning and knowledge management as a key values. In order to support the value of connection and relationship building, HSBC is involved in using its global expertise as well as the local knowledge for the purpose of connecting multinational clients to products and services in order to meet their financial needs.


The corporate structure of a global structure but when it comes to the knowledge management, HSBC is using knowledge structure models. It is acquiring and integrating the knowledge from multiple sources and unstructured media and the knowledge modeling helps it in reducing the gap between knowledge acquisition and the usage of knowledge. The key discrepancy in its knowledge structure is that the knowledge model structure should represent the knowledge so that this knowledge can be used in the problem-solving process. So its structure must acquire knowledge and the knowledge retrieval must be improved.


The five key systems used by HSBC for knowledge management include the HSBC share point, client vision, My Learning, HUB, and HSBC Sametime. The HSBC SharePoint is a platform which is used to share information across various operating domains in the form of documents, presentations, and excel sheets. The second important system is Client vision which is a global tool that records the client’s details and handles the data related to its clients. My learning platform is used for making tutorials and business sessions. HUB is used to access mutest details such as daily agreements and transactions. Moreover, HSBC Sametime is used for all HSBC employees in order to keep them informed.


The knowledge management style at HSBC is very collaborative and engaging as the employees are shared with the information and knowledge and their perspectives are also collected and used in the amendments. The entire business values the KM and OL and these learning-based functions are the key elements of its culture.


In order to support organizational learning and development a KM culture, the management of staff plays a central role. The knowledge center of HSBC is involved in motivating the employees. But currently, the company is going through some challenges, as its employees are spending less than half of their time in being actually productive. It is becoming expensive and frustrating for its management and employees are the problem which is becoming a hurdle to ineffective implementation of Km strategies.


In order to overcome the de-motivation and enhance the employees’ skills for participating in knowledge-driven culture, HSBC is involved in using knowledge capture projects in order to make the staff member feel valued and impose a positive impact on their skills, knowledge, and accumulated experience.


The key knowledge management strategies currently, used by HSBC include a simple mechanism, technology, process-based models, and communities of practice of capturing and sharing knowledge.

Feeding forward of knowledge and learning from individual to institutionalized

In order to ensure that all of the employees are getting needed knowledge and skills, the company is involved in utilizing on-the-job coaching and mentoring techniques. Moreover, it is also utilizing e-learning and instructor-led workshops. This is how knowledge acquisition by the employees is supported by a company, and some technological tools such as mapping out knowledge ICT systems are also incorporated to ensure the provision of knowledge by the company to employees. On the other hand, the company also ensures that it is gathering information and knowledge from the staff and its partners. As it is a global network, the company is involved in using the local staff to provide the local knowledge. The talent of the staff belonging to various backgrounds is considered crucial for the success of HSBC. The Head of the China Desk, Eric Yu has communicated that Peter Lee and Zee Tsungyung have helped the company is gaining local knowledge in the 1920s and 1930s. It represents that company is having a long history of acquiring the local knowledge and integrating it into the business.

How HSBC uses knowledge and learning from business networks

In order to gain learning and knowledge from the business network based on the company’s suppliers, its partners’ clients, and the employees, it arranges the knowledge café which facilitates HSBC in the business processes and it also helps it in enhancing the business focus and growth. Through the knowledge café, a company in bringing together all important stakeholders involved in its networks such as suppliers, partners, clients,s and employees, and they are encouraged to be creative and open in the conversation on the topics of mutual interest. It is organized both in workshop and meeting format and it is held in an informal environment.

During the knowledge café participants are arranged in groups in order to discuss the questions, each participant is encouraged to share the experience and knowledge without any interruption, after the sharing of ideas by each participant the group engages in collective discussion, and ideas and findings are exchanged. such knowledge café helps HSBC to gather the useful information and the help from local staff which provides it with local information because it is operating in diverse and highly different markets such as Asia, Europe, America, and the Middle East where the execution of the same strategy without the cultural amendments can cause the setback. Moreover, such knowledge collection from network partners also facilitates the development of new connections and important corrections are made.

What key people are explicitly involved in KM/OL

Chief knowledge officer

As the company is emphasizing much on knowledge management and turning HSBC into a learning organization, it is having many important HR positions to support this initiative. Mr. Larry Cambell is the company’s chief knowledge officer. Being chief knowledge officer he is responsible for ensuring that HSBC is maximizing its value in order to attain its goals and objectives through effective use of knowledge. He is the custodian of knowledge management practices and is responsible for managing the intellectual capital.

HRD manager

Elaine Arden is the head of human resources and the former human resource director. She is responsible for managing the employee motivation program in order to align all HR strategies and tactics with the core value of knowledge management.

Chief data officer

Chief data officer is also a very relevant position that is involved in supporting knowledge management at HSBC. This position is based on supporting the firm by the user experience and knowledge of the data modeling techniques so that data can be communicated effectively with the all-important stakeholders in the network.

SWOT Analysis


  • combination of strategies simple mechanism, technology, process-based models, and communities of practice
  • knowledge capture projects making the staff member feel valued and leaving a positive impact on skills, knowledge, and experience
  • effective use of local staff and effectively gaining local knowledge
  • effective use of knowledge cafe


  • the process-based models and mapping are not as effective as they should and the knowledge retrieval is very challenging
  • employees are less productive and it is quite expansive and frustrating for the management
  • knowledge model structure do not represent knowledge and it cannot be easily used problem-solving process


  • it can acquire new technology systems and support the training programs as employee motivational role in KM is significantly important
  • communities of practice must be improved and a common set of frameworks and ideas must be offered to members to use in their work context
  • it should engage in knowledge audits in order to analyze the knowledge gap and help in aligning strategies with business objectives
  • in addition to the knowledge café, it can start using peer assistance to collect insight from various departments as well as teams for any new project inactivity which can also help in building a knowledge base and saving time and cost


  • the structure is not effective in supporting knowledge retrieval which can adversely influence the entire system
  • in the implementation of knowledge management strategies, the company has ignored the importance of legislative and environmental elements which can challenge its sustainability image
  • competition in the global baking and financial services is increasing so any HR discrepancy can turn out to be a threat if not managed in a timely manner

Knowledge management strategy


It has been revealed in the previous part of the analysis that the structure is not effective to support the knowledge and it has been revealed as a threat for HSBC. A weakness has also been discussed that the knowledge model structure is not capable of representing the knowledge which can be used in the problem-solving process. In this regard, a knowledge modeling structure will be incorporated which will represent the knowledge to be used in problem-solving, and in this regard, HSBC is not only in need of acquiring knowledge but it also needs to model the knowledge as per the industry required format.


Another weakness in the system of HSBC’s knowledge management system is that the knowledge retrieval system is not strong. In order to overcome this weakness and preventing into turning into a threat, the company can avail of the opportunity of incorporating new technologies into the systems. As the company’s repository is already very large, it has become challenging to find out the price of knowledge and there are many problems in knowledge retrieval. So the knowledge retrieval system will be strengthened and dynamic extraction of knowledge will be promoted.


In order to overcome the challenge and weakness of weak employee motivation and their lack of interest in being productive, the information sharing style will be used to enhance corporate collaboration. A style will be adopted where the purposes of KM will be communicated, peers will be encouraged to ask questions, the analysis will be adopted, and the feedback will not only be presented but supportive actions will also be taken.


It has been revealed to be the company’s strength that it is using knowledge capture projects that are making its staff member feel more valued and leaving positive impacts on their skills, knowledge, and experience. But at the same time, it is the company’s biggest weakness that its employees are not participating effectively in KM systems and they are not being fully productive. So in this regard, the HRD will be responsible to execute effective motivational programs.


In order to improve the skills to effectively utilize the KM, a knowledge audit will be incorporated. This knowledge audit will help HSBC to identify the effectiveness of its knowledge-based assets and develop strategies in order to manage the human capital in the most effective and efficient manner. In order to support skills, the knowledge-sharing culture will be developed to improve overall organizational performance.


It has been revealed that the simple mechanism technology, technology, process-based models, knowledge café, and communities of practice are the strengths of the company as its strategy is revealed to be very supportive. But in order to avail of the opportunities merging into the market, HSBC can incorporate the use of peer assistance as a major component of its strategy. It can help in gathering information from the peer and from the team before taking any initiative related to the activities and projects. This strategy can help HSBC to take insights from experienced peers which can help it is adopting a new approach to handling the projects which can not only save time but can also turn out to be cost-effective. In this regard, the best initiative is to appoint a facilitator and choose the participants for the meeting who must have the diverse skills, knowledge as well as the experience.

Shared values

The HRD will ensure that HSBC will keep of utilizing its strategy of engaging global expertise and local knowledge for connecting the multinational clients to products and services to respond to the financial needs.

Implementation plan

The implementation plan of HSBC to improve its knowledge management system and develop a culture of learning organization will be based on different steps. A sequenced approach will be adopted in order to effectively implement all the important initiatives proposed. This implementation plan is based on the outcomes captured in the form of SWOT analyses and it plans to maximize HSBC’s knowledge management effectiveness.

Step 1: Knowledge model structure

The first activity will be the development the appropriate structure because without the development of a suitable structure the knowledge management plans can never be executed. It is a major weakness of the HSBC holding plc that its structure is not effective enough to assist knowledge and its knowledge model structure is incapable to represent and using it in problem-solving process. For this, the knowledge modeling structure will be developed under the guidance chief knowledge officer which will acquire the knowledge and will model the knowledge in accordance with industry required format that could be used for supporting the problem-solving process.

Step 2: Knowledge retrieval

The knowledge management system is lacking in knowledge retrieval and knowledge reuse. This weakness can damage the entire system and in this regard, the chief knowledge officer will be held responsible for ensuring the adoption of innovative technologies to enhance the repository and dynamic extraction of the knowledge will be made possible by adopting a relational database. Moreover, a resource description framework will also be added to overcome the weakness of data retrieval and reuse.

Step 3: human resource development

Not only the technical aspects, but the human resource management and development are also a huge threat for the HSBC because it is operating in a highly challenging global business environment, so if the weakness will not be managed it can turn out to be a huge threat by weaning the competitive position of HSBC. This part of the strategy is the responsibility of the Human resource director who will ensure the effective execution of knowledge capture projects along with effective motivational programs in the form of reward management. Competitive pay and benefits packages will be offered to enhance employee productivity.

Step 4: Knowledge audit

It will be the responsibility of the chief data officer to implement the knowledge audit. This knowledge audit will be incorporated to avail the opportunity of effective HR and it will also support the skills of HR and assist the knowledge-sharing culture.

Step 5: Peer assist

The last and most important part of the strategy of HSBC will be peer assistance. It is the strengthens the company that it is already managing its global network with the combination of many KM strategies such as process-based models, simple mechanism knowledge cafe, and communities of practice but it is operating in a highly competitive market so being innovative and becoming a learning organization is a continuous process and not just innovative. So in order to keep pace with changing market dynamics, it must avail the opportunity of peer assistance strategy. This will be the responsibility of the three most important position holders directly involved in implementing the strategy. The chief knowledge officer will approve the use of the strategy, it will be supported by data streaming by the chief data office and the human resource director will be involved in implementing it. It will enable HSBC in gaining insights of experienced peers and will help in handling projects in a more cost-effective technique.

Step 6: Ripple model of evaluation and monitoring

In order to evaluate the knowledge management strategy proposed a Ripple model of monitoring will be adopted. The first level will be knowledge process enhancing activities such as organizing knowledge network meetings, relating the database and selecting the after-action reviews of the team. The second step in this framework of evaluation will be knowledge capital creation. The third step is identifying the changes that are to be tracked and observed including the observation of people, organizations, teams, and functions. The next step will be finding the results and measuring the performance of the strategy implemented for HSBC and identifying how successfully it has influenced the HSBC’s KM/OL goals and objectives.

Step 7: Ongoing evaluation and corrective actions

The last step of the KM/OL strategy implementation will be based on taking the corrective actions based on the continuous evaluation of how well the initiatives taken have contributed in enhancing the corporate value.

Time scale

This entire strategy proposed to strengthen HSBC’s knowledge management system will be implemented in two months. The following Gantt chart is the breakdown of the proposed KM/OL strategy for HSBC.

Reference List

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  4. HSBC. (2018). About HSBC. Available from [Assessed 26 February 2018]
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  15. KM. (2010). Knowledge Management Tools and Techniques Manual. Available from [Assessed 26 February 2018]
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  17. Massingham, P. (2014). An evaluation of knowledge management tools: Part 2 – managing knowledge flows and enablers. Journal of Knowledge Management , vol.18, no.6,pp. 1101-1126.
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