The KM "proof of concept"
In the early stages of Knowledge Management – even when you are still drafting the Strategy – you may need to deliver a “Proof of Concept” exercise.
This is a small intervention with a Knowledge Management tool or process, just so that people can see it in action, and to show that “Yes, it can work here. No, it’s not all smoke and mirrors”.
This is not the same as a full-scale pilot, nor is it part of implementation – it’s a “Look at this” exercise.
Suitable proofs of concept might include the following;
A retrospect on a tricky (or successful) project. For one of the companies we have worked with this was a project that had gone disastrously wrong, and they effectively said to us “if you can get learning from this project, then we will believe what you say about Knowledge Management. We did, and they did.
A Peer Assist for a high profile project. This has been the proof of concept for many companies – a straightforward demonstration that valuable knowledge can be shared between projects teams, and can make a positive impact to project plans.
A Knowledge Exchange on a key topic. For another organisation, the proof of concept was getting experts together from all over the world to build company Best Practice on bidding and winning PFI contracts.
A Knowledge Asset on a key topic. For a third company, who was going through a series of mergers, this was a Knowledge Asset to summarise “what we have learned about mergers.”
A Community of Practice launch. One organisation was seeking to develop knowledge sharing behaviours, and a successful community launch gave them the evidence they needed to move forward
A retention interview from a departing expert. This has been the proof of concept for many a Retention strategy. Management want to see what is possible, and they want to see the output, in order to prove that retention can generate valuable output.
In each case, you should seek to create two things from the Proof of Concept.
The first is some valuable knowledge, either exchanged between people, or captured as lessons, guidance, tips and hints, or FAQs
The second is stories, or feedback from the people involved, saying “Hey, we tried this knowledge management thing, it was great, it was not difficult, and it created real value”.
It is through these stories that the concept is “proven”