3 steps to using knowledge management strategically, not tactically

Knowledge management can be a strategic tool, but too often is used tactically.

To add value, Knowledge Management must be strategic. However often its use is not strategic, but it seen as a low-level support activity; managing a generic resource, just as you might manage land or property or money.

See for example this blog post from 2011, by Max Boisot and colleagues, entitled “Are you wasting money on useless knowledge management“.

Most companies recognize the need for knowledge management, but often delegate it to the IT and HR departments without linking it to corporate strategy, often thereby wasting both resources and the strategic options their firm’s knowledge could generate. The problem is that most current knowledge management efforts merely inventory the company’s knowledge, without parsing out the knowledge that is strategically relevant. Strategic management of knowledge focuses only on those knowledge assets that are critical to your firm’s competitive performance — from the tacit expertise of key individuals right through to explicit company-wide general principles.

Boisot and colleagues point out that “most current KM efforts” are divorced from the strategy of the organisation, devolved to a support department (IT, HR), and are non-selective in looking at ALL of the knowledge assets, rather than focusing on those assets that are most relevant to the strategy of the firm. The focus is all too often on improvement of the management of knowledge, rather than improving the strategic delivery of the organisation through better management of knowledge; on KM tactics and not business strategy.

The distinction in the previous sentence may be a subtle one, but it is important.

You can often see it in the way an organisation develops its KM strategy.

  • When the KM strategy starts with a discussion of the types of knowledge (tacit, explicit) and goes on to list the tools that may help management of knowledge, and then the plan to introduce the tools, then you are treating KM tactically. I saw a strategy recently that was driven by cultural analysis. The argument seemed to be that if you address the culture, then people might start to share knowledge better, and that some of this knowledge might help people work better, and some of this working better might help the strategy. This is a strategy for the management of knowledge, rather than a knowledge-enabled business strategy.
  • When the KM strategy starts from the organisational strategy, then you are treating KM strategically. Here the argument is that the business strategy is supported by (a subset of) your knowledge, and if you manage this knowledge better, then it will help your business strategy. This is a much more direct link than that described in the previous paragraph, and you can demonstrate it through tools such as strategy maps.

You can also see it in the level at which KM is working.

When I started working on KM with the BP KM team in the 1990s, we began looking at the knowledge used by shift workers in refineries and on oil platforms, but within 2 years we were working with the knowledge of C-level staff, Regional Presidents, the Chief Counsel and strategic task forces. We began at tactical level, and quickly escalated to strategic level.

To add value, Knowledge Management must be strategic.  Here are three steps you can take to make it so.

  1. Build a good Knowledge management strategy, focused on the critical and strategic knowledge areas rather than on a generic approach for everyone, managing all knowledge.
  2. Engage the senior managers in a conversation about strategic opportunities, and ask them to help you prioritise the strategic knowledge. 
  3. Start to work with the generals, instead of the foot soldiers. The project managers, program managers, divisional heads and senior leaders are also knowledge workers. KM can also help them improve their decisions, and their decisions are often strategic rather than tactical.
Take these steps, and with any luck you will avoid the pitfall of winning the (tactical) battle, but losing the (strategic) war.

View Original Source (nickmilton.com) Here.

How to identify your critical knowledge – look for the areas with greatest room for improvement

KM should prioritise critical knowledge, but how do you tell what knowledge is critical?

Any Knowledge Management strategy, system or approach should be based around, and focused on, the knowledge which is critical to an organisation.

At one level, we need to focus on critical knowledge when piloting and implementing Knowledge Management, so that we address the knowledge of greatest value first.

At a second level, we need to think about the type of knowledge which is most critical, when it comes to developing our communities of practice, and the structures and taxonomies that underlie our knowledge management framework.  Let me give you an example.

In the British Army, the primary structure of their lessons management system is a Practice based structure. They have broken down all the Army activities into a process map, and used this breakdown or processes and practices as the structure of their lessons system. This is because they want to use knowledge and learning to improve their processes and practices. 

In the British Air force, the primary structure of their lessons management system is an Equipment-based structure. They collect lessons on, and seek improvement of, the equipment they use. This is because they want to get improve their equipment, and the way they use and maintain it. 

Similarly an organisation that most wishes to improve its internal practices – a sales or services organisation, for example, – should use Practice as its knowledge dimension,  because practice improvement is important, so practice knowledge is critical. They should appoint practice owners, communities of practice, and use practice-based taxonomies. Within this structure, they should then focus on the practices that most need to be developed and improved. These could be practices that are historically problematical, or new practices that need to be developed; practices and processes with the greatest room for improvement and development.

Knowledge of how to best conduct these processes and practices is the critical knowledge on which the KM strategy should be based.

An organisation that most wishes to improve its products – an automotive or aerospace company, or a manufacturer of  mobile phones – should use Product as its knowledge dimension, because product improvement is important, and so product knowledge is critical. They should appoint product owners, communities of product, and use product-based taxonomies. Within this structure, they should then focus on the products and technologies that most need to be developed and improved. These could be  products that have been historically problematical, or new products and technologies that will open new markets; products with the greatest room for improvement and development.
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Knowledge of how to best design, manufacture, sell and support these products is the critical knowledge on which the KM strategy should be based.

What does your organisation most need to improve? That tells you your organisation’s critical knowledge

View Original Source (nickmilton.com) Here.

50 ways to wreck your KM strategy

Here’s another reprieve from the archives – 50 ways to wreck your KM strategy

When I wrote “Designing a successful KM strategy” with Stephanie Barnes, we originally included a final chapter on “how to wreck your strategy” – a list of 50 things not to do (similar to the chapter on “100 ways to wreck organisational learning” from my previous book). 
The publishers did not like the concept and found it too negative.  Here’s what we would have included. Please let us know if we have missed anything!

“In the previous chapters, we’ve looked at how you can write an effective Knowledge Management Strategy, which will provide context, direction and limits to your Knowledge Management implementation. We’ve looked at the success factors, the things you have to get right; the principles, the inputs, the approaches. In this penultimate chapter, we will turn it around, and look at how not to write a strategy. If you follow any of the advice in the list below, you will weaken your strategy. If you follow all of the advice, your job as a Knowledge Manager can be mercifully swift, and you can sabotage your company’s competitive future as well.

1. First of all, don’t even bother with a strategy. Tactics are so much more fun, and save you a lot of difficult thinking. 

2. Don’t try to understand the field of Knowledge Management before you start. I mean, how complicated can it be? Knowledge is pretty simple stuff, so this won’t need much research. You can make it up as you go along. 

3. Don’t check your understanding of KM with your manager. When he or she says “Knowledge Management”, it’s a safe bet that they mean exactly the same as you do, when you say “Knowledge Management”. The topic is not at all broad or fuzzy. 

4. There’s no need to limit the scope of your strategy. Knowledge Management is surely a small, well-constrained topic, isn’t it? There can’t be any room for scope creep in a Knowledge Management strategy? 

5. Also, there is no such thing as too narrow a scope either. If you narrow your scope far enough, for example to a single tool or a single approach, then you can be unencumbered by any embarrassing success. 

6. Don’t bother to define your own role. A touch of role-ambiguity makes corporate life so much more exciting, especially at performance-appraisal time (“You never told me you wanted me to do THAT!”) 

7. Don’t bother to define any other KM roles either. Let’s share the ambiguity and confusion. 

8. Principles? You don’t need any principles! Guide your KM strategy by imagination and whim, rather than a set of principles.

9. Avoid learning from past KM implementations. Your Knowledge Management implementation will be so unique that there’s no point in looking at success principles from other implementations. Just start from a clean sheet of paper. After all, what’s the point of a wheel if you can’t reinvent it. I am sure you will avoid all the pitfalls that others have found. 

10. You know that statistic about “80% of KM projects fail”? That won’t apply to you! Don’t worry! 

11. I would not bother trying to make the case for a KM strategy. It will be immediately obvious to the senior staff that a KM strategy is needed; you won’t need to collect any evidence. They will be bound to give you the go-ahead anyway. 

12. Similarly, there is no need to demonstrate that value is being lost through lack of KM. Everyone already fully accepts that KM is needed, and worthy of big investment, and they have a pot of money available for you somewhere, I am sure. 

13. Also, there’s no point in getting too clear about who the decisions-makers are for KM, or what you want them to decide. Your KM strategy and KM program will find support from somewhere, somehow, to do something-or-other. 

14. The best way to write the strategy is to shut yourself in a room and write it yourself. There’s no need to include input from anyone else. Interviews and workshops will be a waste of time. 

15. You don’t need your Knowledge Management program to be business-led. That would be such a hassle. Its far easier to be tool-led; to select a new shiny KM tool (or even several tools, if they are shiny enough) and just roll them out. Business value is bound to follow somehow. 

16. That means that there’s no point in trying to identify business drivers. Knowledge Management is bound to help with something, so there’s no point in trying to decide up front how KM supports the business. 

17. Demographics is a red herring. If your company is full of experts, or full of novices, surely the knowledge issues will be identical? 

18. Vision statements! Don’t make me laugh. Visions statements are a total waste of time, and clarity of vision never helped anyone. (Now, remind me of what we were trying to do again?) 

19. Oh yes – scope statements. That’s another total waste of time. Let’s just keep KM open ended – the strategy can cover anything, all staff, all topics, for as long as you like. If we set a scope, we would just be in danger of excluding things, like new shiny tools, or going off on tangents. 

20. If you DO have to write a vision and scope, then, again, there’s no point in involving anyone else in creating these statements. Just make them up yourself – they’ll all buy into it just fine. 

21. Avoid all temptation to focus on specific areas of knowledge. Far better to leave yourself free to address every knowledge topic, whether it is valuable to the business or not. Surely all knowledge is of equal value? 

22. Also its better if you free your KM strategy completely from the company strategy map. You don’t want KM to bear the burden of being seen as something strategic; that would be far too risky and high-profile. 

23. Start Knowledge Management from a completely clean sheet. There may be some aspects of KM in place already, but it’s better to demolish and reinvent these wherever possible, no matter how well they are currently working. 

24. This applies to technology as well. You really need the users to abandon all old habits, and start afresh. 

25. If you are forced to do an assessment of the current state, then do this yourself, rather than hiring an experienced consultant to help you. It doesn’t matter that you “don’t know what you don’t know”. 

26. You don’t need to treat Knowledge Management as a Management Framework – better to see it as a single tool, or perhaps an optional “pick-and-mix” toolbox. That’s how every other management system works, eh? 

27. Don’t seek to embed the framework in business activity. KM works better as an add-on to “real-work”, so that people can ignore it if they want to.

28. There’s no need for Governance within KM. Let’s keep KM low key, let’s leave it up to the individual, let’s keep it as an optional activity. Everyone has plenty of time for optional activity. 

29. There’s no need for Roles and Accountabilities within KM. Just present it as “everyone’s job” and everyone is bound to do it. 

30. If you want to save time and heartache, just ignore the issue of information architecture, and information lifecycle. Information can just look after itself – all you need nowadays is a search engine. 

31. Selecting Knowledge Management Technology is easy. Don’t bother with business requirements, don’t bother with user requirements, just listen to the vendors. They will let you know how valuable their own products are, and in fact you may be surprised to hear that (according to the vendors) there are many products that will just “do KM for you” with no effort from you at all. 

32. Once you have the technology, then there is no need for training or coaching. Roll it out and see what happens. 

33. KM technology, unlike any other technology, is an end in itself, and needs to business justification. All proper companies need a KM toolkit, even if it adds no value to the bottom line. 

34. There are very many types of KM technologies available nowadays. Just buy them all. 

35. OK, here we get to the core of the advice. Forget change management. All the books tell you that KM is a Change exercise, but change is hard, and takes time and effort. Just quietly ignore the Change issues. It will all sort itself out in time. 

36. Similarly stakeholders. Everyone has an equal interest in KM, everyone will naturally support what you are doing, so why bother to engage people – why bother to get powerful people on your side. 

37. Similarly communication planning. KM is common sense, and doesn’t need to be communicated. 

38. Again – piloting – total waste of time. Knowledge Management won’t need any adaptation for your own organisational context – it will work “right out of the box”. Just roll it out to everyone, all at once – you can’t fail. 

39. If you are forced to pilot, then pick the first pilot you think of. Any pilot is as good as any other pilot. Why bother to rank and select. 

40. You can’t make a business case for KM. Don’t even try. Who needs business cases anyway? Your managers will give you the money you need, without you having to explain about benefits, let alone attempt to estimate the scale of the benefits. KM will add value because it will allow people to share knowledge with each other – that’s all you need to say. 

41. If you have to do “KM by stealth”, then be as stealthy as possible. The ideal is for nobody to have any idea at all what you are doing. 

42. You don’t need a leader for the KM project – it will lead itself. 

43. If you do appoint one, make sure they are a KM geek, with no business experience (and especially no Change Management experience). 

44. Don’t appoint a team. 

45. If you do appoint one, ensure they are all from HR, or all from IT, or all librarians (diversity is over-rated). 

46. Avoid any people with passion for the topic. Passion is so exhausting. 

47. Avoid any clear reporting lines. 

48. Avoid using a steering team. Who needs managers meddling in KM, with their “business needs” this and their “operational priorities” that? 

49. Implementation planning is to be avoided at all costs. KM will just implement itself. 

50. You can estimate your budget as being the cost of the software alone. You can treat any other elements (current state assessment, requirements definition, roles, accountabilities, processes, governance, change management, communication, stakeholder management, training, coaching, roll-out) as essentially negligible.”

View Original Source (nickmilton.com) Here.

The dangers of Neomania in KM

Why search for what’s new? Why not search for what we know works?

Image from wikimedia commons

Rolf Dobelli in his book “The Art of Thinking Clearly“, and Nassim Nicolas Taleb in “Antifragile“, refer to the term Neomania.

Taleb defines Neomania as follows

“The “love of the modern for its own sake. We are constantly in pursuit of the next big thing, but how can you know that something will last if it’s only been around for a year, offering no information on its future longevity?”

Dobelli says

“You’re sitting in a chair, an invention from ancient Egypt. You wear pants, developed about 5,000 years ago and adapted by Germanic tribes around 750 B.C. The idea behind your leather shoes comes from the last ice age. Your bookshelves are made of wood, one of the oldest building materials in the world. At dinnertime, you use a fork, a well-known “killer app” from Roman times, to shovel chunks of dead animals and plants into your mouths. We place far too much emphasis on flavour-of-the-month inventions while underestimating the role of traditional technology”.

I think of both these guys when I see the LinkedIn posts looking for the “Next New Thing in Knowledge Management”, or “What’s new in KM”. These discussions appear several times a year, and, to me are looking for the wrong thing.

To be honest, there has been very little new in KM for a long time. OK, there is a lot of social media technology around now, but companies have been using varieties of social technology (personal pages, threaded discussions, user-created content) for a very long time. The technology is commercially available now, but its not new. AI has been around in various incarnations for ages as well, and still suffers from the same problems now as it did then.

If we look at the organisations that still top the MAKE awards and have done for many years, the bulk of them are using the same Knowledge Management approaches that they did a decade or more ago. They may have perfected some of the details, they may have improved some of the technology or added extra governance, but they are using the same basic approaches that they have ever done – Communities of Practice, Collaboration, Learning from Experience, Knowledge Ownership, Learning Before, During and After (or Ask,Learn,Share).

New ideas and new technologies pop up all the time, and few last. Longevity is important. The key thing to understand as far as Knowledge Management is concerned, is not “What’s New”, but “What has been proven to work over the long term”.

If you have been tasked by your organisation with sorting out an approach to Knowledge Management, then don’t go for the new and untried – go for what has passed the test of time, and has proven its value.

Go for what we know works.

View Original Source (nickmilton.com) Here.

The KM strategy map

In another reprise from the archives, here’s a post about that useful tool, the KM strategy map

You know I am a firm believer in business led Knowledge Management Strategy.  At a meeting yesterday, I saw this presented in a very striking and visual way, through the use of a Strategy Map.

 A strategy map is an established way of mapping out the strategy of a company in a visual way, The approach was invented by Robert S Kaplan, and is well described in this HBR article from which the example above – a strategy map of Volvo Dealership –  is taken. A strategy map can be linked to Balanced Scorecard, and can be used to explain why a company is choosing the initiatives that it has.

The standard Kaplan map starts from the vision, and works down, via elements of the strategy (in the example shown, growth and efficiency), then looks at the financial, customer, process and learning elements or objectives that support it.

Knowledge Management should be aligned with this strategy map.

As we know, Knowledge Management should be driven by the corporate vision and strategy, and should support the key activities that are needed to deliver that strategy. When Kaplan and Norton developed the ideas around strategy maps (later published in this book), KM was in its infancy and the “learning” elements were pretty generic (and to be honest, judging from examples, the learning elements are still pretty generic). What KM can do is make these less generic, more specific, and show how the elements of KM can directly support the business strategy.

As an example, I have added a Knowledge Management layer to the HBR “Volvo dealership” example. Sales and Marketing, for example, can be supported by more than generic “active participation, quality focused co-workers” etc, it can be supported by  a Sales and Marketing CoP, actively developing and sharing ideas, solutions, good practices, and so on. Similarly continued education of Volvo dealers can be supported by an online knowledge based, eLearning, and a dealers’ community of practice.

Each KM intervention supports a process, which supports a customer and financial objective.

The two advantages of this form of strategic map is that it helps the KM team top focus on those interventions that most directly support business strategy, and it makes it clear to the business how KM will help in delivering that strategy.

View Original Source (nickmilton.com) Here.

Here is a useful KM Strategy matrix

This a a reprise of a post from 5 years ago, describing a useful matrux for plotting your strategic knowledge topics.

I first described this matrix in this article in KM review in 2007, as a tool which can be useful in developing your KM strategy.

This Boston Square-style matrix is formed of two axes; the current level of in-house knowledge, and the global level of maturity of that knowledge (i.e. whether it is new knowledge with a significant rate of evolution, or old established knowledge which is no longer evolving). These two variables allow key knowledge topics important to your organisation to be plotted into one of four boxes on the matrix, as described below.

  • New Knowledge.These are areas of new evolving knowledge which the company thinks will be very important in the future, but which currently they know little about. The KM focus for strategic new knowledge is on experimentation and knowledge creation, particularly from pilot programs. Ownership of New Knowledge may lie with the R&D or technology departments.
  • Competitive knowledge.These are areas of new evolving knowledge that the company knows a lot about. This knowledge may well give them a competitive advantage – the first learner advantage. In areas of evolving knowledge, the company that learns the best and learns the fastest, has the potential to outperform its rivals.  The KM focus for competitive knowledge is on the development of best practice. As this knowledge is being applied around the business, there needs to be a continuous capture of knowledge from practice, comparing of knowledge through communities of practice, and development of best practice. Ownership of competitive competence probably lies with the communities and networks. 
  • Core knowledge. These are areas of established knowledge that the company knows a lot about. This knowledge is likely to be core to their existing business, and needs to be managed well if the business is to perform efficiently and effectively. The KM focus for core knowledge is on the development of standards. Once the knowledge area is mature and established, best practice can be codified into standards and routines, and embedded in the work practices and procedures of the organisation. In some cases it can even be embedded into software or mechanised processes.  Ownership of this type of knowledge lies with the technical functions and in-house experts.
  • Non-core knowledge These are areas of established knowledge that the company knows very little about. These should be areas where the company has chosen not to apply this knowledge itself, but it may be areas where they have lost knowledge through retirement of key staff.

Using the matrix

Knowledge Management is not just about categorising knowledge, but more about working with knowledge.  This matrix therefore becomes a lot more useful when you use it not just to categorise knowledge, but to plot where you would like knowledge to move to, over time.

  • Imagine some new knowledge, developed in your research centre, which is currently in the “new knowledge” box, somewhere towards the top of the box as well. It is low maturity, and few people in your organisation know about it. You would like it to become competitive knowledge. Therefore it probably needs to increase in maturity a little until it is robust, and then needs to be a lot more widespread within your company. You move it from the top left box to the top right box, following blue arrow number one. You set up the communities of practice, and begin to deploy this knowledge, discussing it within the community and refining it into good practice through use. 
  • Imagine some competitive knowledge which you would like to be core to your business. It is currently relatively low maturity, but widespread in the company. You would like it to be more mature, so that you can embed it into processes and routines. The community needs to compare practices, choose the best, and come up with a standard company approach, documented in the knowledge base. The knowledge moves from the top right box to the bottom right, along blue arrow number two. 
  • Imagine some core knowledge which you decide, in the future, can be non-core. You would rather outsource it. You need to take your definition or specification for standardised knowledge, and move it outside the company so that you no longer have to deal with this area of knowledge. Someone else will manage it for you (which means that you need to make sure they have a good knowledge management capability themselves). The knowledge moves from bottom right box to bottom left, along blue arrow number three. 
  • Alternatively there may be knowledge which is currently non-core, but you need to insource it. You need to learn from those who do it well, develop a standard approach, and deploy this widely within your organisation. The knowledge moves from left to right along blue arrow number four. 

So you can use this matrix not only to plot the current status of your critical knowledge areas, but also plot where you want them to be in future. You can determine how you would like this knowledge to move along the strategic matrix, and you can put in place the knowledge management activities that will move the knowledge to where you want it.

Contact Knoco if you want more help with your Knowledge Management Strategy

View Original Source (nickmilton.com) Here.

Connect and Collect – the left leg and right leg of KM

The Connect and Collect approaches in KM are like the left leg and the right leg- you need to use both. 

image from PublicDomain Pictures

I was working with a client last week who is very interested and enthused about the use of Knowledge Management Processes to drive conversations between staff, as an antidote to previous attempts to collect knowledge. These previous attempts had resulted in a huge lessons database which people viewed as a chore, and a waste of time. 
Much as I applauded their new focus on conversation and Connection, I urged them not to neglect the Collect part of the knowledge cycle, as these two aspects of KM go and in hand.
In fact, they are like the left leg and the right leg. A focus on Connecting can help you make a great stride forward, but you need the other leg to catch up if you want to make real progress. 
I told them this story

We were working with a KM team, who had asked us to come into their organisation and run some Retrospects from major successful bids. They wanted to develop and deploy knowledge of how to bid successfully. 

We held a series of Retrospects, and they worked very well. We had some fantastic dialogue within the bid team, and with the internal client, and identified a series of learning points. We found some really good success factors whch should be repeated in future, and whole set of opportunities for improving the bid process, including some things that were really frustrating the bid teams (mostly related to inappropriate company policies) and we communicated these to other projects. Everyone was very enthused by the process.  

A few months later the client called, and said “That Retrospect process is rubbish”. That took me aback, as I know from experience that it is a very powerful and robust process, so I asked him why he said this. He replied – “those issues that were frustrating the team when we started, are still there. They have come up again in the latest Retrospects. Nothing has been changed”. 

 Well – nothing would be changed, if all they did was hold Retrospects. Retrospects are great for identifying team learning, but there needs to be a follow on process to take action on the issue, and for this particular company, those actions needed to be taken at a high level in the organisation. They had not implemented a process or workflow for documenting the lessons addressing the actions, and had no engagement from senior managers in the learning process. Retrospects, like so many KM tools, need to be part of a system, and no tool in isolation will stand in for the system as a whole.

Connect and Collect  – Conversation and Content – need to work together. Conversation is where content is born, and content is something to talk about together. Retrospects need to work together with the lesson management system, not in isolation.

Connect and Collect are like the left leg and right leg of KM – there is only so far you can travel using one and not the other.

View Original Source (nickmilton.com) Here.

"85% of KM initatives have no stated objective"

It is a strange, troubling, but apparently true fact that 85% of KM initatives have no stated objective.

Image from wikimedia commons

This statistic comes from Page 7 of this presentation by Bob Armacost, and quotes the results of a survey run by KPMG

  • 80% of companies in a recent survey said that they had KM initiatives under way
  • Of those companies, 85% had no stated objectives for their KM initiative.
I suppose it depends what you mean by “stated objectives”, but even so, that’s a scary statistic.

Given that so many KM initiatives fail, then to start an initiative with no clear business objective is surely a rash thing to so. Clarity of purpose is one of our 7 top success factors for successful KM implementation.

So what sort of objective might the KM initiative have?

To answer this question, you need to have determined the business driver for KM. Our KM surveys in 2014 and 2017 tested 7 business drivers, and found they were ranked as follows, with high numbers equating to high ranking:

  • KM to improve operational effectiveness – rank 5.1
  • KM to improve business efficiency – rank 5.1
  • KM to provide a better service to clients and customers – rank 4.7
  • Km to retain knowledge at risk of loss – rank 4.3
  • KM to improve internal innovation – rank 3.9
  • KM to improve health, safety or environmental record – rank 2.
Depending on which business driver is relevant to your organisations (and different industries have different drivers for KM), then impacting this business driver must surely be a stated objective for KM.  If your organisation wishes to become more efficient through the use of KM, then one stated objective of your KM program must be to improve efficiency, for example.
You can map your KM initiatives onto this objective using a strategy map, you can put metrics in place to measure KM activity, and you can seek anecdotal or even measured evidence that KM activity is linked to delivery of this business objective. 
You can then declare an objective such as “Improved knowledge management will deliver efficiency improvements in our capital projects resulting in an average 5% cost reduction against the 2016 baseline”, or “Improved knowledge management in our contact centres and online customer support will result in a 5% improvement on Net Promoter Score against the 2016 baseline.”

The value of a clear objective

It may initially seem scary to link KM to a measurable business outcome, but let me tell you three things:

  • Lots of people have done it, and this blog contains over 100 examples of metricated business impact from KM
  • Your senior management will really appreciate it, and your KM program will be all the safer from having a clear link to business deliverables. No manager will support the development of KM for its own sake, but will support it if there is stated value to the organisation;
  • You will find this business objective clarifies your KM program considerably, and allows you to focus only on those things that add real value. It will make your life simpler and clearer.

View Original Source (nickmilton.com) Here.

Why you may need more than one KM strategy

Complex organisations may be involved in more than one type of activity, and may need more than one KM strategy and framework.

Two of the early activities in any Knowledge Management implementation are to develop a Knowledge Management Strategy (as we discussed yesterday), and start to map out a potential Knowledge Management Framework.  However a large organisation, with many different divisions working in different ways, may need more than one strategy and more than one framework.

Let’s take, as an example, a utility company, providing water and gas to consumers.

This imaginary utility company has a Projects division, which installs new pipelines and new processing plants.  They have a maintenance and operations division which maintains the supply of water and gas to customers. And then they have a customer care division, which signs up new customers and manages the relationship and the interaction with the existing customers.

This organisation might need 3 strategies and 3 frameworks. 

The strategy for the projects division will be about cost reduction, and ensuring that projects are delivered on time, to budget and to specification. The KM framework will focus on learning from experience in order to improve project performance, and will involve processes such as Retrospects and Peer Assists.

The strategy for the Operations division will be about operational reliability and the continued provision of service. The KM framework will focus on maintenance methods and best practices, and on sharing tips and hints in communities of practice.  

The strategy for the customer care division will be about customer satisfaction and customer retention. The KM framework will focus on provision of knowledge to customers, either through online self-help or via a contact centre, and the division will almost certainly need some sort of knowledge base software.

Although the whole organisation can share a KM policy and KM principles, each division will need to interpret these in their own context, and will need their own KM framework embedded in their divisional ways of working.

View Original Source (nickmilton.com) Here.

8 reasons why you need a Knowledge Management strategy

You need a strategy if your KM implementation is to be successful. Here are 8 reasons why.

StrategyImplementing Knowledge Management without a strategy is a risky endeavour. As Sun Tzu is reputed to have said said, in “the art of war”,

“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before the defeat.” 

Lots of books and articles on strategy come from a military point of view or from game theory, and are strategies for competing and winning. Should we think in terms of winning and competing, when implementing Knowledge Management? Surely it’s a Good Thing to do – it’s a win-win for everyone?

But as leader of the KM program, you are in competition. You are in competition against other programs and initiatives, for internal resources (money, people, time) and you are in competition for internal attention (management support). If you do not have a good strategy, then good tactics are not going to save you.

 We are constantly hearing of yet another KM program closed, and yet another KM leader looking for a job, as the company sought to cut back on expenditure, and found KM to be too far from the front-line delivery – too non-strategic – and thus an easy target.

So what can a good KM strategy do for you?

  1. Your strategy will help you define where you heading, and what the end point should be.  It will define the vision, and the objectives for knowledge management within your organisation, and allow these to be discussed and agreed up front, before you start on the planning.
  2. Your strategy will provide a set of principles or ground-rules to guide your actions, and guide your decision making during knowledge management implementation, in order to deliver the greatest chance of success. Don’t forget that 80% of knowledge management programs fail (depending on what you mean by “knowledge management program” and what you mean by “fail”). The reasons for KM failure are well known, and a good strategy will be designed to avoid these reasons.
  3. Your KM strategy will be closely linked to business objectives, business strategy, and business results,  if it follows the principles mentioned above. This protects you from being seen as peripheral to the business, and an easy target for downsizing. 
  4. Your strategy will form the framework of constraints for planning purposes. It will define the areas of focus, the risks to be addressed, and the allies to work with.
  5. Your strategy will guide you in deciding what not to do. If a tactic is outside the constraints, or in opposition with the principles, then it is not strategic, and a waste of resource.
  6. The strategy also looks at implementation priorities and issues. It’s not just a vision; it’s a high level approach for how the vision will be realized. 
  7. Your strategy is a public agreement with your leadership. It represents agreed ground rules for knowledge management implementation, and should have leadership blessing and support. If over time that support does not materialise, then you should be able to go back to the strategy, remind them that it was agreed, and claim their support (or else renegotiate the strategy). The strategy is therefore a key decision point for the organisation.
  8. Your strategy allows managed flexibility. As your business context changes, your organisational priorities, or the competitive or technological landscape, so your knowledge management strategy should also evolve over time, but will need to be renegotiated with your steering group. This is your “Management of Change” process for the KM implementation.
The most important thing for you, therefore, is to get a good strategy in place from the start. Contact us at Knoco if you want a copy of our guide to KM strategy.

View Original Source (nickmilton.com) Here.

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