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.

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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.

How to use external communications to market KM internally

Your KM communication plan should include external communication, primarily as a way to market internally.

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Knowledge Management implementation requires a communication strategy and plan, to help the stakeholders climb the ladder of engagement. One particularly useful strategy is to communicate your KM successes to the outside world, so that the messages can trickle back in.

Often you will have to deal with many cynics on the organisation, who like to treat KM as a fad, a  piece of nonsense, something they can ignore and it will go away. However once these people start to hear messages coming in from the outside, such as “Hey, I hear you guys are really good at Knowledge Management!”, this begins to create cognitive dissonance.

Cognitive dissonance is the observation (based on the work of festinger in the 1950s) that we hold many “cognitions” (views or opinions) about the world and ourselves; when they clash, a discrepancy is evoked, resulting in a state of tension known as cognitive dissonance. As the experience of dissonance is unpleasant, we are motivated to reduce or eliminate it, and achieve consonance.

Sometimes people reduce the tension of dissonance by explaining away the unpleasant “new truths”. Sometimes they alter their views to adapt to the new truths.

So our cynic thinks “Hang on, I know KM is just a fad, but here is somone saying we are admired for it. What’s going on?”  And he or she may start to shift their perception. “Perhaps KM is a useful fad? Perhaps OUR brand of KM is less faddish?”.  At the very least, you are setting up a tension of beliefs, and at the best, the cynics mind may begin to shift.

Here’s a quote from a Knowledge Manager who has used this technique.

 “As a company, we tend to learn more from people outside the company than from inside so we were deliberately trying to create an external reputation for KM that would come back into our company”

Once you have your first few Knowledge Management successes, start to broadcast them externally; not so much to build up your own reputation, but to create stories which will filter back into your organisation and help you with your change program.

View Original Source Here.

What knowledge managers wish they had done to communicate KM better

Communication is key to KM. How could we do it better? Here’s what Knowledge managers say.

KM is a change program, and communication is a lever in delivering change. Every Knowledge Management implementation needs a communication strategy.

For all the KM implementations we have been involved with, we try and hold a learning review at the end, to learn from the successes and challenges. At these reviews, the knowledge managers within the organisations share their learnings with us.

Here’s what they have to say 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”.

“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 someones 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 organisation 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 colourful, it is not just plain text, we put coloured text in it, we have four bulleted items, and there’s a link to one thing on the KM site and then two other things on the intranet which have been published, and we advertise our workshops”.

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

There is a consistent message here. Every one of these knowledge managers realises the importance of communication, and most of them wish they had dome more of it. 

View Original Source Here.

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