Where should you focus Knowledge Retention?

Knowledge retention can be a massive exercise if not focused. But which knowledge should you focus on retaining?

Imagine you are setting up a Knowledge Retention interview with a company expert. This expert has a lifetime’s knowledge which would take an eternity to capture – where do you start? Where are the highest priority areas for capture?

This Boston Square may help.

The first axis of the square is the routine/non-routine nature of the activity which the Expert knows about. The Expert often has something that the ordinary practitioner does not have, and that is an understanding of the non-routine activity – the “one in a thousand” occurrences that most people never see, but which an expert has either met, or heard of somewhere. Most practitioners, even the junior ones, understand routine activity – it is when they meet non-routine circumstances that an expert is needed.

The second axis is teh criticality of the knowledge. How critical will that knowledge be? Will it save lives and millions of dollars, or is it not particularly critical?

Obviously the focus for your retention is the critical non-routine areas. If you do nothing else, then capture the knowledge of these topics.

Then, if you have time, address the “critical and routine” (although most people will know this already, it may be good to have the experts viewpoint), and then the “Non-critical non-routine” (it will at least help people avoid reinventing the wheel).

View Original Source (nickmilton.com) Here.

10 lessons on communicating Knowledge Management

Introducing Knowledge Management is a program of culture change, and Communication is a lever in supporting change. However communication does not always go well, as these ten lessons show.

Image from wikimedia commons

For all the major Knowledge Management implementations we have been involved with, we try and hold a lesson capture review at the end, to learn from the successes and challenges. Here’s what Knowledge Managers from the past have said on the topic of communication. You can see they didn’t always get it right! (NB each quote is from a different knowledge manager)

“We should have allocated always in our plan, an element of communication process. Even when push came to shove, we should have fought for that just like we fought for some of the other things that were close to our hearts and our commitment”.

“The message that we have been giving has been an honest one. We have told people but we are aiming to do something, although we haven’t told them what it’s going to look like to after the summer, because we don’t honestly know ourselves. If we had gone and said “we are going to do this, this and this” then they might have asked a lot more questions”.

“We should have implemented a communication strategy, to define all the different ways of communicating, what the medium would be, what the target audience would be, what the message would have to be”.

“Compared to some that we have seen, our communication is very much better. (Program X) for example are putting a lot of effort in, but they are not telling anybody anything. We took the opposite tack, and decided to tell people that something was coming. When they ask questions, we say “we do not yet know the details””.

“Maybe what we could have done with the benefit of hindsight is have that communication strategy right from the start instead of inventing it three quarters of the way through”.

“Make it someone’s accountability. To form a strategy and to keep revisiting that strategy. Don’t let it fall below the water line”.

“We developed a bulletin for people who self-select to stay in touch with things. There are 1000 or 1200 people in the organization who have an interest in what we are doing. Every month we send an e-mail to all the new joiners, and say “Do you know that people are sharing their trade secrets on the intranet all across the company? would you like to be kept in touch with this?” And every time we have a workshop with a group of people, we add them on, and every time we do some consultancy or just meet people we ask them if they would like to subscribe. We send it out once a month by e-mail. It is quite colorful, it is not just plain text, we put colored text in it, we have four bulleted items, and there’s a link to one thing on the Live and Learn site and then two other things on the intranet which have been published, and we advertise our workshops”.

“We could easily have doubled or trebled the level of communications that we were doing, if we had had the manpower”.

“For future KM programs, you must have committed SPOCs from the business, you must have committed support from the relevant directors committed, you must have a governance board with clear roles and responsibilities, and you must have a communication plan”. 

“Communication of the KM programme was linked to the approval and to sponsorship. Without the support from above we did not have the mandate to do a big communication campaign, and needed to adopt a bottom up approach for the communication. We could not run a real roadshow, but had to work though low level small communication; communication for information rather than communication for action. This bottom up approach resulted in a progression style of “two steps forward and one step back” for the KM programme”. 

View Original Source (nickmilton.com) Here.

When Knowledge Retention becomes a national issue

You know how we, as knowledge managers, have been warning about the risk of retirement knowledge loss for decades? Finally people high up are taking notice.

Here is a paragraph from the 2016/17 report from the Public Commisioner of Western Australia.

As a result of the reforms announced by Government, some leaders with extensive public sector experience may exit the sector. Without effective succession planning and knowledge management strategies in place, critical leadership knowledge will be lost. Further, organisational delayering that often occurs during times of reform may see operational staff take on management responsibilities without being suitably upskilled.

The Commissioner is an independent statutory officer, established under the Public Sector Management Act 1994, responsible for setting and monitoring public sector standards and codes of ethics, and for the promotion of effectiveness and efficiency within the public sector.

It’s good to see such a high level official recognising the risk of not having a knowledge management strategy.   

View Original Source (nickmilton.com) Here.

Sites don’t build communities; communities build sites

It takes more than a SharePoint site to build a Community of Practice.

Image from wikimedia commons

Not for the first time, we recently ran a Knowledge Management  Assessment for an organisaton which claimed to “have lots of communities of practice”. When we pressed her a little more to find out what she meant by this term, we found that for her, a Community of Practice is a SharePoint site with a list of contributors, a blog, and a wiki. Then when we went online to look at these “communities”, the vast majority were entirely empty. Quite silent. No activity at all.

It takes far more than a SharePoint site to build a Community.

The key is in the word Community. Community is a feeling – it is a feeling of having something in common. It is a feeling of trust and of loyalty. Communities of practice deliver value in organisations because they set up structures of dual loyalty. A community member is loyal to their work team, but also loyal to their community, and this loyalty and trust is what enables the communities to be a conduit of knowledge between one work team and another.  The site is a tool they use to support the sense and feeling of community, not something that creates this feeling.

Providing a set of community tools and expecting community behaviours to emerge is a variant of the “Build it and they will come” argument. It’s like building a village hall in sectarian Northern Ireland, and expecting a multi-sect community to develop.  For many organisations, there are internal divisions and silo walls to overcome before anyone even thinks about sharing knowledge with each other.

They key is to build the community first, often through hard work and much face-to-face interaction,  and let them build the hall. Or the website/blog/wiki/whatever.  The community builds their own site.

Below is the vision I like to offer to communities of practice when it comes to building and populating their site. This is not something you do for the community, it is something the community does for itself.

Provide lots of sites, and you just end up with empty sites. Provide a sense of community, and the site will be built.

View Original Source (nickmilton.com) Here.

Quantified value stories in KM – numbers 115, 116 and 117

As part of our series of stories and examples of quantified value from KM, please find below three examples from a 2015 article in the UAE National, entitled “Knowledge management is power for companies”

An example of KM in action is the case of El Paso Corporation – a 5,000-employee North American provider of natural gas and related products. To maximise the benefits of a new organisational structure and encourage communication, El Paso decided to try a KM programme focused on business opportunities and challenges. Its aim was to foster expertise within the workforce and share technical knowledge with a scorecard used to measure and report on the programme. Its elements included: savings, improvements, successes, costs and milestones. In the first year, the goal was to save the organisation US$500,000, but it delivered $1.2 million in savings.

“A recent best-practice transfer between KOC and other k-Companies in Kuwait, where technology and know-how have been transferred between companies resulted in savings of several million Kuwaiti dinars,” (Abdul Jaleel Tharayil, project leader of Knowledge Management Practice for Kuwait Oil Company) says.

“Another example is an internal collaboration between deep drilling and development drilling, which brought forth a reduction in non-production time by introducing a change in casing design, leading to savings of around 250,000 dinars.”

The Kuwaiti Dinar is currently worth about  3.3 US Dollars.

View Original Source (nickmilton.com) Here.