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.

The leaders who grew up with KM

Knowledge Management is now, in some industries, old enough that that leaders “grew up” with KM as a resource.  What difference does this make?

Average length of time different industries have
been doing KM. Data from the 2014 Knoco KM survey.

We are many of us familiar with organisations where KM is a new discipline, and where leaders need reassurance that KM will add value.  But what about where it is no longer new?

In many industries, as the table above shows, KM has been in place for nearly a decade (this table was created in 2014), and in some companies for nearly 2 decades.  That is long enough for managers to have come up through the ranks with KM already in place.  So what difference does this make to leadership attitudes?

Here are two stories; one positive, and one less positive.

The positive

I talked recently to a knowledge manager from a company who has been working with knowledge management for over 15 years, and has developed an enviable reputation for having for the backing of senior management for their knowledge management initiatives. 

She was explaining to me about their long term approach for communities of practice, and how over the 15 years, many of the initial community leaders have now been promoted into senior management posts. They are beginning to really reap the benefits of this, as the new generation of senior managers have “grown up” in the organisation with knowledge management being a way of life.

 As a result, these managers see KM not as something extra, or as a new initiative, but this or part of the natural way of working. They have been there, they have been involved, they have seen the benefits, and knowledge management for them is now as natural as financial management or safety management.  For these managers, KM is “part of the job”, and they expect their staff to do KM.

The less positive

Then earlier this week I had another conversation, which perhaps shows a potential downside. In this company, KM has been running since the late 90s, with Communities of Practice being a very powerful mechanism. However the CoP forum is still running on late 90s technology, and really needs an upgrade.  Unfortunately the managers, who came up through the ranks using this forum and know it to be a massively valuable resource, are saying “Don’t mess with the forum. Whatever you do – don’t compromise its effectiveness”.

In many ways I sympathise with them – upgrading technology for the sake of it can be risky and if something continues to do the job needed, then why not stick with it. However in this case, they may well be standing in the way of needed progress.

When leaders grow up with KM, their support is assured, but make sure they do not stand in the way of KM developing even further.

View Original Source Here.