Expectation, metrics, rewards, support – the KM Governance quartet

Four elements make up Knowledge Management Governance. Expectations, metrics, rewards and support.

Governance is often the missing element in Knowledge Management, and although it is one of the four legs on the KM table, it is the one that gets least attention.  This is partly because governance is not easy, and partly because there is no clear published model for KM governance.

Governance represents the things that the organisation does, and the management of the organisation does, that drive the KM behaviours and adoption of the KM Framework. We see four elements to governance – expectations, metrics, rewards and support.

Knowledge Management Expectations.

The first thing management needs to do in terms of governance is to set the expectations for KM. This requires a set of clear corporate expectations for how knowledge will be managed in the organization, including accountabilities for the ownership of key knowledge areas, and the definition of corporate KM standards, KM principles and KM policies. These documents should tell everyone what is expected of them in Knowledge Management terms.

Different departments can then add to these expectations, and individuals with KM roles will have KM expectations written into their job description (see examples here).  Within a project, the expectations are set by the Knowledge Management Plan.  Expectations may also be set using the competency framework.

If there are no clear expectations, nobody will know what they should be doing in KM terms.

Knowledge Management Metrics.

If standards and expectations have been set, then the organisation needs to measure against these expectations. For example, if the corporate expectation is that every project will conduct a lesson learned session, and every knowledge topic has an owner, then you should measure whether this is happening.
There are other types of KM metric as well – see these blog posts for more discussion.

If there are no metrics, then nobody will know what people are actually doing in KM.

KM rewards and recognition.

If you are measuring people’s performance against the expectations, then this needs to be linked to rewards and recognition. If people do what they are expected to, this should be reflected in their rewards. If they don’t do what is expected, then there should be a sanction. See these blog posts for a wider discussion of incentives.

If there are no links between metrics and reward/recognition, then nobody will care about the metrics. Particularly important are the sanctions for not doing KM. If people can dodge their expectations and get away with it, then this sends a strong message that the expectations are actually options, and not expectations at all.

Knowledge Management support

It is unfair to set expectations, measure people against them, and then reward people based on these measures, unless you make the expectations achievable in the first place. Therefore you need to set up the systems, the training, the coaching, reference materials and so on, that make it possible for people to meet their expectations.

If there is no support, then you have set up an unfair system which people will resent.

Together, the quartet of Expectations, Metrics, Reward/recognition and Support form the basis of an effective Knowledge Management governance system.

View Original Source (nickmilton.com) Here.

Pride as a KM disincentive/incentive

Pride is an interesting motivator in Knowledge Management. In some cases it acts as a real dis-incentive, but if harnessed well it can be a powerful driver for KM behaviours.

Proud Lion from Public Domain Pictures

I was reflecting on this recently while running one of our powerful Bird Island exercises.

People start this exercise by building a structure from bricks and sticks and rubber bands. They work in isolated teams, and have no knowledge of the task before they start. They create relatively small structures, but are inordinately proud of them.

After a while, we get the teams to share knowledge with one another. They send one member out of the door to go and interact with another team, and very often they have a little discussion about how open the team member should be with the others. Last week, one team actually suggested to their envoy that if the other team’s structure was smaller, they should give misinformation, rather than share knowledge with them. They were proud of their success, and did not want to share it.

This is the negative side of pride. If people are proud of their work they may be unlikely to want to change it, to learn from others, or even to share with others that they see as competitors. Pride is part of what drives “not invented here” and knowledge hoarding.

Wounded pride.

What happened to many of the teams was that they found that the other teams’ structure was much taller, and that theirs looked like a midget in comparison. Now their pride was dented, they realised that their performance was mediocre, and that they had a lot to learn.

When we got the team together in a group and showed them current best practice, their pride was dented even more. Even the best of their structures was less than half the height of the current world record. And sure enough, when we built the structures again, everyone was liberally copying from the “best practice”. There as no evidence of the “Not Invented Here” syndrome.

That’s because wounded pride kills “not invented here”. You cannot proudly continue to reject knowledge from other people who are performing far better than you are.

People want to do a good job, they want to be among the leaders, and if they find that their current approach gives results that are bottom quartile they will not defend their approach, they will not display NiH, but will look for knowledge from any source they can, to restore Great Performance. I remember one drilling crew on the Gulf of Mexico, whose motivation to learn was to be “the best darned drill crew in the Gulf” and who approached KM with great enthusiasm.

You need to remove the false pride in local (substandard) performance and harness the motivation of “proud to be the best” in driving people towards learning and sharing.

View Original Source Here.

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