10 tasks for the KM team when KM implementation is complete

When KM implementation is over, the KM team still has a job of work to do

Implementing Knowledge Management is a long project of culture change, and the introduction of a new management framework (roles, processes, technologies, governance).  The Knowledge Management team’s initial role is to design and introduce the framework, delivering the required changes in behaviour and culture.

Once that job is done, what role does the KM team have?

Some people say that once this job is done and Knowledge Management is fully embedded into the business, you can disband the team, but that isn’t the case.

Once Safety Management is embedded do you disband the Safety team? Once Quality Management is embedded, do you disband the Quality team? No; you retain them, because they still have a key role to play and without them playing that role, Quality performance or Safety performance would revert to pre-change levels. The same would happen to KM.

Here are 10 key elements of that continuing role for the KM team.

  1. They need to support usage of the framework. This includes training people in its use, coaching the KM professionals, running the KM CoP, launching other CoPs, building the knowledge asset about Knowledge Management.
  2. They need to monitor and report on the application of the framework. This includes checking compliance with the KM policy and expectations, measuring the application of lesson learning, tracking value added through communities , auditing the management level of key knowledge assets, measuring the maturity of key CoPs, collecting results of any KM Dashboards or scorecards. Then reporting a summary of these metrics to senior management.
  3. They need to coordinate any KM recognition activity. This includes running annual awards schemes, for example, or finding other ways to recognise the star performers, as well as finding ways to deal with the people who refuse to engage with KM.
  4. They need to continue to keep the profile of Km high, through communications campaigns or KM focus weeks.
  5. They need to continuously improve the KM framework. This may include improving the company KM policy, bringing in or improving the existing, technology, or adapting the processes and roles;
  6. They will be in charge of testing the KM Framework against international standards such as ISO 30401:2018;
  7. If new KM technology is needed, the KM team will manage the process of technology requirements definition, and managing a vendor tendering process
  8. They may take on specialist roles themselves, such as lessons management, or major lessons capture, development of KM plans for major projects, and big Retention exercises.
  9. Indeed, if your Knowledge Management strategy is a Retention strategy, the KM team may run the Retention process (planning, prioritising, interviewing etc)
  10. The KM team will act as client for any outsourced KM services.

The KM team has a job of work still to do – to manage, maintain and continuously improve the KM Framework – and these 10 tasks form the core of their work.

View Original Source (nickmilton.com) Here.

CKO appointment – internal or external?

A common question when implementing Knowledge Management  – should your KM team leader, or CKO, be an internal appointment, or should you look externally to fill the role?


There are advantages and disadvantages to both options, as I explain below.

Internal appointment

As we have often said, Knowledge Management is a simple idea, but very difficult to do in practice.
The idea – that people should share knowledge with each other and learn from each other – is not a complicated idea. The complicated thing is getting it to actually happen. Implementing KM is about culture change, and culture change is both difficult and highly politically charged.

The primary value in having an internal appointment (and not just an internal appointment, but an internal change agent), is that they know the politics. They know how to get things done in the organisation; they know how to drive change. And that, as we know, is the difficult part of KM implementation.

The internal appointment has existing networks they can use, they know the business priorities, and the way the organisation works.  They may also know the real reasons why previous KM attempts failed.

The disadvantage is that they might not know much about KM, and will need external mentoring and coaching in the details of KM and its implementation.  There also might be a relatively small pool of change agents available within the organisation. And in addition, if the organisation has already tried KM with little success, an internal appointment may be too tied to, and influenced by, the approaches of the past.

There may feel like a lack of urgency of the appointment is internal, and the internal appointee may already have rivals at the firm, and can also find themselves transferred out of the role as quickly as they transferred in as priorities shift.

External appointment

It will be easier to find an external person with a history of KM success in other organisations, and very often a new appointee, with a clear view on KM and a wealth of experience of what “good KM looks like,” can be a breath of fresh air. It may be difficult to find such strong and passionate change agents within the organisation.

They will have experience in KM, a repertoire of interventions, and some good success stories to share.  An external appointment might be on a fixed term contract of a few years, which gives KM an urgency, a project-like structure and a clear cost-benefit equation.

The disadvantage is that the zeal with which an external appointee will bring to KM may be met in equal measure by internal resistance. Organisation often reject “foreign bodies”, and the best change comes from within. The external appointee will not know the “language” of the firm, or the key players, or the unwritten rules and assumptions. They will need strong support from the CEO, and to surround themselves with mentors and coaches with decades of tenure at the organisation, to help steer the CKO through the political maze.

There may be a higher threshold to get started for an external appointee, and if they are on a fixed contract, they will still need to find an internal person to whom to transfer the accountability for KM at the contract end.

What most people do
As the diagram shows,  85% of the respondents to our KM surveys said their KM team leader, or CKOs, was an internal appointments, and 13% said it was external, with 2% “don’t know”s. That doesn’t mean an internal appointment is better; it just means its more common.

Our recommendation is as follows:

If you can find a good, experienced change agent within the firm who “gets” the vision and the opportunity KM can bring, then give them the CKO role but with coaching and mentoring from external experts. Their knowledge of how to change the organisation is more important that their lack of knowledge of KM.

If you cannot find such a person, or if KM exists but needs a shake-up, then look to hire someone external, and give them a wise “chief of staff” who knows the organisation inside out and can help navigate the politics associated with change. And if you are hiring your CKO externally, follow this piece of advice from a Knowledge Manager I interviewed:

If I was recruiting somebody external and I had an interview and I asked “do you think you were successful (in your last KM implementation)” and they said “yes we were absolutely successful” I would instantly be suspicious, because knowledge management is not straightforward. I want practical evidence that it was painful. I want to see the blood and the guts”.

View Original Source (nickmilton.com) Here.

Knowledge Management career paths

I posted on this blog 5 years ago on the topic of KM career paths, and suggested the following model for career progression within KM, at least within a larger organisation.

Image from wikimedia commons

  1. Knowledge facilitator or Knowledge engineer. Doing the basic jobs of KM, facilitating meetings, conducting interviews, facilitating a Community of Practice , Knowledge Management lead on one project, and so on. 
  2. Knowledge Manager. Managing and maintaining the KM Framework for a department or business unit, or acting as leader for a major community of practice. Single point of contact for KM for that topic or that part of the organisation. Making sure the KM work gets done. Managing or supporting the Knowledge facilitators and knowledge engineers. Acting as local champion for KM. Monitoring and reporting the degree of use of KM, and the value delivered to the business. 
  3. Knowledge Strategist. Setting the strategic direction for KM within a business unit, business stream or organisational group. Improving and developing the use of KM in support of the business, and the application of KM in the business. Working with the business to optimise KM support to the business. 
  4. Head of Knowledge Management. Setting the strategic direction for KM within the organisation. Designing any new developments of the KM Framework. Driving the corporate KM culture. Working with the executive level to optimise the way in which Knowledge Management supports the organisation.
Since then I have found a few more KM career path examples, as follows:

  • McKinsey: senior researcher >= lead researcher, or senior researcher => specialist, or senior researcher knowledge operations
  • Bain & Co: Individual contributor (associate/analyst) => Specialist (seasoned professional) => Team leader (experienced professional)
  • World Bank (according to KM Edu hub): Knowledge Management Assistant => Knowledge Management Analyst => Knowledge Management Officer => Senior Knowledge Management Office
  • US Air Force Apprentice (3) Level => Journeyman (5) Level => Craftsman (7) Level => Superintendent (9) Level. (These are levels of development rather than different roles
Please let me know if you have other examples

View Original Source (nickmilton.com) Here.

Can you outsource KM support?

Are there any parts of KM support you can outsource? If so, which parts?

You have a successful Knowledge Management program under way. All is going well, but you are under increasing pressure with requests from the business, and you don’t have enough resources to respond to the demand.

You think “I must be able to outsource some of this work”.

But how much can you safely outsource, and what are the elements you need to keep in-house?

Read on, and find out!

What you can’t outsource

Ownership of the knowledge management framework. Knowledge Management needs to keep running, and the KM Framework of roles, processes, technologies and governance needs to be maintained, applied, monitored and continuously improved. Ownership of the Framework is an in-house responsibility, even though you may employ trusted KM consultants to support you.

Ownership of the knowledge management strategy. Although it a very good idea to get an  experienced Knowledge Management consulting company to help you to draft a strategy, the strategy needs to be owned and delivered from within your own company.

Delivery of knowledge management implementation. Although it is a very good idea to get a good experienced Knowledge Management consulting company to help you with implementation, the implementation project needs to be led and delivered from within the company.

Leadership of the communities of practice. The CoPs own your critical organisational knowledge, and this needs to be owned internally.  The CoP leaders should be in-house experts.

Knowledge ownership. The practice owners, the knowledge stewards, the subject matter experts, all need to come from within the company. If you start outsourcing knowledge ownership, then you have really outsourced that particular capability. And that’s fine; companies outsource things like financial management or catering, but you are outsourcing the entire capability and not just management for knowledge capability.

The ownership of content. The content owners need to come from within the organization, although you can bring in an experienced KM consultancy to help create some of the content in the first place.

The application of the knowledge. Applying knowledge is done by your teams, your departments and your individuals.

What you can outsource

Knowledge capture services, such as the capture of lessons learned from projects. This is an intermittent activity, and can sometimes be a high volume activity and sometimes not very much is going on, which makes it hard to resource internally. Knowledge capture requires specific skills, and you may not have a readily available pool of people with those skills in your organisation. This is an ideal service to outsource, and knowledge capture is a service we already provide to many clients.

Knowledge retention services, such as retention interviewing and the creation of knowledge assets from retiring staff. Like the example above, this is a specialized task requiring specialised skills, but one which is intermittent. Many companies outsource this service – Shell outsourced much of their ROCK interviewing for example, and Airbus outsources management of their ExTra program. If you have a sudden workload of retention work, then look to outsource the service.

The facilitation of knowledge management processes, such as peer assist, knowledge exchange, or community of practice launch can be outsourced to trained KM facilitators.

The administration of the online library or the online knowledge base. Shell, for example, outsourced much of the administration work related to their Wikis, such as building cross-links between articles.

Lessons management, and the administration of your lesson management system. You can bring in people to do the day to day work of quality control of lessons, tracking lessons and actions, following up on actions, and gathering and reporting metrics; also the work of lessons analysis.

The development and maintenance of taxonomy and ontology. These are specialist tasks, and you might as well bring in specialists to help with them.

Audit of your knowledge management framework and application. You can bring in an external objective company on a regular basis to check the health of your knowledge management program, and to audit the degree of management of your knowledge assets – ideally using ISO 30401:2018 as a benchmark.

Provision and maintenance of some of your knowledge management technologies. Technologies such as lessons management systems, customer-facing knowledge bases or collaboration tools can be hosted by the technology provider, rather than having to be hosted and maintained from within the organization.

Maintenance of the search technology. Maintaining and tuning the search engine, particularly AI-assisted or semantic search, can be outsourced to a specialist company.

So there are many things you need to do yourself, in-house, but there are a number of specialist services where it makes sense to set up a call-off contract, so you can respond to needs by pulling on a pool of external specialist resource.

View Original Source (nickmilton.com) Here.

14 tasks for a Knowledge Manager

One in a series of 100 posts about KM roles and role descriptions, here are 14 tasks for a Knowledge Manager

Tumyra Byron,
Knowledge Operations manager,
USAF

Courtesy of Rob Dalton, and reproduced from this page on KM4Dev, here is his “Task list for a knowledge manager”. He originally wrote this list in 2010 for consideration by the U.S. Army at Fort Leavenworth, but these tasks are relevant for most organisations and are a good mix of strategic level awareness and culture work, and on-the-ground process facilitation. The links within the list were added by me.

  1. Work with leadership to build a knowledge sharing environment and culture throughout the organization.
  2. Improve situational awareness throughout the organization. 
  3. Train our leaders on knowledge sharing and transfer techniques they can use with their personnel.
  4.  Train and promote the use of online collaborative publishing throughout the organization. 
  5. Train and promote the use of communities of practice and professional forums. 
  6. Analyze excellence, when it is recognized through organizational award programs, and allow others to benefit from lessons learned from those who were recognized. 
  7. Transform the traditional training process through the integration of social learning techniques when and where appropriate.
  8. Integrate structured socialization into the fabric of our organization in order to build trust and increase communications between our organizational personnel.
  9. Collaborate with the CIO to provide easy to use global online reach-forward and reach-back capabilities to access in near real time knowledge and experience 24/7 to our leaders and personnel when needed and where needed. 
  10. Eliminate organizational continuity breaks caused through loss or turnover of personnel. 
  11. Decrease the use of email internally throughout the organization when and where practical. 
  12. Work with organizational security personnel to minimize security policy impact on knowledge transfer. 
  13. Facilitate the identification of new knowledge and experience of value to management and other key personnel for further exploitation, validation and dissemination. 
  14. Shorten the learning curve for new organization personnel by providing immediate online and offline access to relevant, knowledgeable and experienced subject matter experts and mentors. 
  15. Decrease negative outcomes for first time real world contact experiences for our personnel.
  16. Set up and operate an organization wide program that utilizes and exploits retiree knowledge and experience to the benefit of our organizational personnel and leaders. 
  17. Work closely with organizational IT section to ensure availability to personnel of state-of-the-art knowledge transfer software tools. 
  18. Train, set up and facilitate peer assists and virtual teams when required to either resolve organizational problems or assist the innovation process. 
  19. Train, set up and facilitate After Action Reviews (AARs) when required in order to capture lessons learned for future use. 
  20. Assist organizational IT personnel with training people how to use online search capability  more effectively to find knowledge or experience they need to resolve their issues or to innovate.

View Original Source (nickmilton.com) Here.

How long does a Knowledge Management career last?

KM careers last on average 6.3 years, or else become semi-permanent.

For very many years, on Linked-In, I have been seeking connections with Knowledge Managers from around the world, in an attempt to understand the global KM industry a bit better. Recently I have noticed that many of these connections no longer work in KM, so I decided to do a quick survey to see how long an average KM career lasts.

I started working through my Linked-In contacts in alphabetical order, to determine

  • If they no longer worked in KM, how long their career in KM had lasted (taken as the length of time they had held a job with “Knowledge” in the job title, or
  • If they still worked in KM, how long their KM career has lasted to date.
I chose the first 40 people in each category, and the results are shown below.

For those who are no longer working in KM, the average length of a KM career was 6.3 years, and the modal length (most common) was between 4 and 6 years. There is a “hump” of between 0 to 8 years, and a “tail” up to 18 years.

For those still working in KM at the time of survey, the average length of career was 9.5 years, with a Mode of between 10 and 12 years. There were a number of responses – a “mini hump” on the graph between 0 and 6 years, and some of these might be people in a short term KM career who have not yet moved on, but we have no way of knowing. But it certainly seems to be that if you make it to 10 years or so, your career will continue.

In my data set there were more people still in KM that had left it. I counted 50 people still working in KM before I reached the 40th that had left the career.

So although I am not a statistician it seems as if we can conclude 2 things from these figures;

  • Many people have a short-ish career in KM, which lasts about 6 years 
  • About as many people have a long career in KM, which lasts about 10 years or more.

Please note I did not analyse job types, or fields of industry – this was a simple (if time-consuming) exercise of looking at job titles and length of employment.

View Original Source (nickmilton.com) Here.

Example KM job description – KM advisors at HP

Taken from this publication by Knowledge Street, here is a role description for what is effectively KM Help-desk and support staff – the KM advisors at HP consulting services. This is one in a series of example KM role descriptions on this blog.

image from wikimedia commons

Stan Garfield describes the HP KM advisors role as follows:

Knowledge assistants are people who help employees use the knowledge management environment by offering a variety of services. 

They can advise on how to use collaborative team spaces or how to use other KM tools. They can assist in locating reusable collateral or searching for information needed when a user is facing a deadline or not connected to the network and needs to find something out. They can find needed content and send it by email or post a link to it in an ESN. 

They can help connect to other knowledge sources, either through communities or finding the right people inside or outside the organization. They can help with knowledge capture and reuse, assisting in submitting content to repositories, and evaluating the submitted content it is of acceptable quality And they participate in ongoing training and communications. They host webinars. 

They help people with training. They communicate information on a regular basis to employees. The knowledge assistant is someone to contact with a question about how to do something, where to find something, or for assistance with any process or tool.

Below is an example role description. There are 3 such role descriptions in the publication and I have chosen this one as it is more complete, and also addresses the measurement element ot the role.

HP Knowledge Advisor Job Description – Asia Pacific Region

Role Objective:

  • Help drive the Knowledge Capture and Reuse processes within Asia Pacific (AP) by assisting Bid Managers, Project Managers (PMs), Solution Architects (SAs), and Consultants in accessing and using Engagement Knowledge Management processes systems and tools.
  • Provide advice and KM consulting to project teams and individuals to increase reuse and repeatability across the region.
  • Network with Subject-Matter Experts (SMEs) and other AP and Worldwide KM resources to identify and deliver required knowledge, expertise or collateral to K-Advisor callers requesting assistance.

Key Accountabilities:

  • Act as a broker to connect people to the appropriate SMEs
  • Where appropriate provide expert advice based on personal subject matter expertise
  • Assist users in searching for selling and delivery reusable collateral.
  • Assists users that are wishing to contribute new or improved collateral for possible reuse
  • Help users get up to speed on the Project Profile Repository, SharePoint, Forums, Knowledge Briefs, and other KM tools
  • Facilitate collaboration needs
  • Direct users to the right knowledge sources based on their specific needs
  • Actively advice and guide project teams especially at bid development or project startup to ensure their collaboration workspace are established effectively and efficiently as well as to encourage the teams to search for Project profiles of similar projects to leverage and share.
  • Solicit user feedback
  • Conduct training on KM process, systems and tools
  • Participate in other user support initiatives
  • Provide Monthly AP K-Advisor report with key metrics, issues/problems with KM process, systems and tool, and recommendations

Skills:

  • Good people and communications skills
  • Able to quickly learn about tools and processes
  • Eager to be of help to users
  • Subject matter expert in a solution set or discipline, e.g., PM, SA, Test Manager
  • Demonstrated understanding of C&I business initially, later expanding to the other business units
  • Excellent planning and organisation skills, tracking and monitoring a range of activities at any one time
  • Good analytical & decision-making skills
  • Flexible and adaptable
  • Intellectually curious, actively keeps abreast of knowledge developments
  • Uses own initiative, demonstrates a creative approach to problem solving
  • Strong analytical skills
  • Drive and resilience to achieve challenging objectives
  • Calm and collected, even when under pressure maintaining a high level of performance

Experience:

  • 3-5 years team leader/project manager/solution architect experience
  • 2-3 years business pursuit/customer engagement experience

Reporting:

  • Reports to HP Services KM Lead

View Original Source (nickmilton.com) Here.

Practice Owner – enabler or bottlneck?

The practice owner is a key role in a KM framework, but are they a bottleneck on progress?

Image from wikimedia commons

I was presenting at a client internal conference recently, talking aboutKnowledge Management Frameworks. In one section of my talk, I introduced the concept of the Practice Owner, which I described on the accompanying slide as follows;

“Practice Owner” 

  •  Accountable for “Owning and managing,” or “Acting as Steward” for, defined areas of critical knowledge for the organisation 
  • Validates (or rejects) new knowledge 
  • Writes or updates practices, or delegates this within the CoP
  • Broadcasts new knowledge, or delegates this within the CoP 
  • Often the same person as the CoP Leader
Those of you who follow this blog regularly will be aware of this role – I see it as one of the pivotal KM roles in an organisation. However this slide generated a lot of negative discussion.

  • “Will this role not be a bottleneck for learning” people asked.
  • “If you put one person as arbiter for knowledge, will they not just decide what they want, and stifle discussion?”
This took me aback a little, as I have only ever encountered this role as a positive, enabling, facilitating and mediating role. Perhaps I had described it wrongly? Luckily Etienne Wenger weas in teh room to add his comment:

“The important thing about this role” he said “is its connection with the Community of Practice”. 

He saw this role as a Stewardship role (and he liked the term Steward) as being answerable not only to the organisation, but also to the Community of Practice. By linking Practice Owner and Community Leader, the Practice Owner then speaks on behalf of the CoP, and co-ordinates CoP knowledge into a single place. The practice Owner mediates and facilitates the process of drawing together Community Knowledge into a Community Resource which the CoP can trust and rely upon.

To this extent, the Practice Owner is as much a servant of the community as they are a leader, and play a stewardship role both on behalf of the CoP and on behalf of the organisation. It is only when you divorce the Practice Owner from the CoP that troubles arise.

View Original Source (nickmilton.com) Here.

6 Ps for the knowledge champion

Courtesy of Andrew Trickett, from Arup, here are 6 Ps that knowledge champions and knowledge managers must demonstrate

Knowledge champions are an important part of many KM programs, extending the reach and influence of the KM team and acting as ambassadors for, and facilitators of, KM in their part of the business. But what characteristics are you looking for in a KM Champion, or indeed for a Knowledge Manager?

Andrew Trickett, Knowledge Manager for the Ove Arup Rail business, believes they need 6 qualities, all beginning with P.

They must have Passion for KM. They need to be enthusiastic about the topic, and really believe in the power of KM to support knowledge workers and drive business performance.  

They must have Persistence. The road to KM is long and sometimes hard, and people will need a lot of convincing.  The KM champion must be persistent; prepared to repeat the message as many times as it takes. 

They must solve Problems. KM will be valued by the knowledge workers and the business if it solves problems for them, so this must be an area of focus for the KM champions. 

They must make always seek to make Progress. They need to be able to demonstrate business progress through KM, and progress of KM through the business.

They must keep their Promises.  The KM culture relies on trust, and people must be able to trust the KM champions to do what they said they would do. If they promise to hold a workshop, or to connect people for knowledge sharing, or to facilitate a meeting, then they must keep their promise.  

They must help people take Pride in their work. The link between KM and pride is an interesting one, which I will revisit in a later blog post. 

View Original Source (nickmilton.com) Here.