After undergraduate studies of physics and zoology, Bill earned his PhD in Evolutionary Biology from Harvard in 1973 studying complex living systems at different levels of organization (genetic systems to species) and from several points of view. After retiring from academia in 1980, he applied systems thinking variety of knowledge management roles, e.g., desktop publishing, computer literacy education and publishing, technical communication, and documentation management - initially in business applications software development and banking.
From 1990 until retiring in mid 2007, as a roving business analyst and systems designer, Bill solved KM problems for Australia's largest defense contractor in areas from contract management to systems and support engineering. Most of Bill's jobs related to a $7 billion project to design and build 10 ANZAC frigates for Australia and New Zealand under a stringently fixed-price contract signed just before he joined the company. Bill's architectural design and implementation of state of the art engineering content and knowledge management systems helped the ANZAC Project finish in 2007 with a profit for the company, and ensured that each of the 10 ships was delivered to well satisfied clients on time and on budget.
To research organizational issues encountered in his knowledge management practice, Bill returned to academia on a part time basis in 2002. From 2005 he has been a Senior Fellow at The University of Melbourne, first in the Australian Centre for Science, Innovation and Society and currently in the Engineering Learning Unit. Building on his background in complex systems theory and his deep industrial experience through the life-cycle of Australia's largest, most successful defence project, Bill has published important fundamental research on the nature of knowledge systems and organization theory, together with several practical papers on knowledge management architectures in engineering and community organizations.
The take-home message in Bill's long industrial experience and publications over the last decade is that even today, most organizations in both industry and academia do not effectively manage their dynamic information and knowledge flows (which may represent 80% of corporate value) to optimally support decisions and operations. Major improvements are possible through architecturally transforming information, knowledge and governance systems, but to be fully successful the architectural work needs to consider more than applications and infrastructure. The additional ingredients are a sound theory of organizational structure and a deep understanding of the roles and importance of people and their private, personal knowledge in all aspects of organization.