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”.