"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.

How the demographics of the organisation affect Knowledge Management

The demographics of your organisation determine the distribution of knowledge, and therefore the Knowledge Management Framework

Here’s another factor that can affect the way you address KM in an organisation; the demographics of the workforce. Because the demographics are is linked to the distribution of knowledge across the staff, it determines how many sources of knowledge you have, and how many net users, for example:

  • A company with very many junior staff and few experienced staff will have few knowledge suppliers and many knowledge users; while
  • A company with very many experienced staff will have many knowledge suppliers, each of whom is also a knowledge user.

Please note that I am not talking here about whether older people behave differently to younger people – there are many assertions made about these differences in behaviour, few of which seem to stand up to scrutiny.

Take a Western engineering organisation. 

Here the economy is static, and the population growth is stable. Engineering is not a “sexy topic”. The workforce is largely made up of baby boomers. A large proportion of the workforce is over 40, with many staff approaching retirement – the blue line in the graph above.

Experience is widespread in the organisation – this is an experienced company, and knowledge is dispersed. Communities of Practice are important, where people can ask each other for advice, and that advice is spread round the organisation. Experienced staff collaborate to create new knowledge out of their shared expertise. Knowledge can easily be kept largely tacit. The engineers know the basics, and a short call to their colleagues fills in any gaps. The biggest risk is knowledge loss, as so many of the workforce will retire soon, and a Knowledge Retention strategy would be a good investment.

Take an Asian engineering organisation. 

China or in India the economy is growing, the population is growing, there is a hunger for prosperity, and engineering is also a growth area. The workforce is predominantly very young – many of them fewer than 2 years in post. There are only a handful of real experts, and a host of inexperienced staff – the red line in the chart above.

Experience is a rare commodity, and is centralised within the company, retained within the Centres of Excellence, and the small Expert groups. Here the issue is not Collaboration, but rapid onboarding and upskilling. The risk is not so much Retention of knowledge, it is deployment of knowledge, although the reliance on a few experts means that they must be given a Knowledge Ownersgip role, rather than using them on projects.  Rather than keeping knowledge tacit, it makes sense to at least document the basics in explicit form (the experts will be too busy to answer so many basic questions), keeping this documentation updated as the organisation learns.

These two demographic profiles would lead you to take two different approaches to KM. The Western company would introduce communities of practice, and use the dispersed knowledge to collaborate on building continuously improving practices, processes and products. Wikis could be used to harness the dispersed expertise. There would be huge potential for innovation, as people re-use and build on ideas from each other. Crowd sourcing, and “asking the audience” are excellent strategies for finding knowledge.

The Eastern company would focus on the development and deployment of standard practices and procedures, and on developing and deploying capability among the young workforce. The experts would build top-class training and educational material, and the focus would be on Communities of Learning rather than Communities of Practice. Innovation would be discouraged, until the staff had built enough experience to know which rules can be bent, and which must be adhered to. Crowdsourcing is not a good strategy, and the “wisdom of the experts” trumps the “wisdom of the crowd”.

This is one of the factors that KM must address, namely the amount of expertise in the company, and how widely it is dispersed.

View Original Source Here.

Nobody is safe – the knowledge manager as an endagered species

There is one really big risk  to the knowledge manager which can strike you at any time, but it is a risk you can protect against.

Photo from maxpixel.freegreatpicture.com
A couple of weeks ago at the KMUK conference we heard some scary stories from knowledge managers who had lost their positions in management shake-ups, which led to one delegate describing the knowledge manager as an “endangered species”, and another to conclude that “nobody is safe”.

What’s the problem?

The problem is organisational change. Our surveys show that this is the number one reason for KM failure.  You have built your KM program, you have a high level sponsor who believes in what you are doing, and you have a good long-term strategy in place. But all of a sudden, out of the blue, your sponsor has moved into a different role and your “top cover” is removed. You need to find a new sponsor in a hurry, and all the people you talk to are either not interested or have their own agenda. You end up under HR supporting their eLearning agenda, or you end up under IT as a Yammer support desk, or you find no sponsor and the KM program is dead.
The problem is that unless there is a wide understanding that KM is a benefit and not a cost, no senior manager will want you in a restructuring. They are all looking to stock their portfolio with winners, and KM is not always seen as a winner.

So how do you guard against this?

The analogue here is the rock climber. A climber will, on a regular basis, “fix protection”. This involved passing the rope through a ring which is fastened to the rock somehow, so that if a handhold comes away in their hand, they fall only as far as their last protection. This is the climber’s insurance policy.
In this analogy, the rope is the Knowledge Manager’s reputation, and the fixed protection is your successes and proofs of concept.
We have already suggested that your KM strategy should be a two-pronged strategy – a parallel long-term strategy plus a series of shorter term quick wins. This is similar to the Mars strategy of delivering KM as a series of business projects, with two business issues solved every year. Then every time you solve a business issue and deliver a quick won, you should publicise this around the organisation for all you are worth, making sure everyone is aware of the business value you have delivered. Ideally look to deliver one such success story once a quarter.
These success stories are your protection. When your high level support disappears, just like a critical handhold coming away in a climbers hand, your reputation will save you and you fall only as far as your last well-publicised business success.

Make sure, as a knowledge manager, you fix your protection. Business reorganisation can come at any time, and without protection, nobody is safe.

View Original Source Here.

How to avoid Dualism in Knowledge Management

We tend to divide Knowledge Management into opposing categories. Sometimes this is useful, but often this dualism is illusory.

Image from wikimedia commons

Dualism is the idea that, for some particular domain, there are two fundamental kinds or categories of things or principles. It is an “either-or” mindset, which seeks to separate things: mind and body, for example, or good and evil, or Yin and Yang.

Dualism is often a western mindset, and many eastern philosophies take a different view, where apparently opposite or contrary forces like Yin and Yang may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent, and may give rise to each other as they interrelate (see picture!).

There has been a lot of dualism imposed on Knowledge Management – seeing things as alternatives rather than parts of a spectrum, or parts of a total system. For example, consider the following Knowledge Management questions, all of which I have heard asked:

  • “Which is more important – Questions or Answers?”
  • “Which strategy are you taking – Connecting or Collecting?”
  • “Is KM best introduced Top-down, or Bottom up?”
  • “Is KM all about People, or Process, or Technology, or Governance?”
  • “Which should I focus on – Conversation, or Content?”
All of these questions assume dualism, and only make sense if you assume dualism.
Now consider the following non-KM questions, and tell me if they make sense:
  • “Which is more important – the positive terminal on a battery, or the negative?”
  • “Which approach do you take when walking, using your right leg, or your left leg?”
  • “Is it better to begin with breathing out, or breathing in?”
  • “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?”
  • “Is a coin all about the Heads, or the Tails?”

These second questions are ridiculous, and we know they are ridiculous because they try to apply dualism to something we know is a system – an electrical current, breathing, a coin, chicken-breeding and bipedal locomotion.

For me, the first set of questions are equally ridiculous. They also are applying a dualistic mindset to something that is a system.

  • Questions and Answers are both equally important (or equally unimportant) in Knowledge Management. They are Demand and Supply, and both are needed for the flow of Knowledge. One without the other is pointless.
  • You should be developing a Connecting AND Collecting strategy. These are not alternatives.
  • KM is best introduced Top-down AND Bottom-up. Both the Top and the Bottom are stakeholders and both need to be involved.
  • KM is all about People, and it is all about Process, and it is all about Technology, and it is all about Governance. These are the 4 legs on the KM Table.
  • You should focus on Conversation AND Content. Content is something to talk about, Conversation is where Content is born and where it is Tested

In each case the apparent opposties may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent, and may give rise to each other as they interrelate – juts like Yin and Yang.

Beware the Western Dualist Mindset, that loves alternatives and opposites. KM is less about “either-or” and more about “both-and”.

View Original Source Here.

The Knowledge Manglers Handbook – 50 ways to kill a KM strategy

If you want to kill off a Knowledge Management Strategy, here are 50 ways to do it.

When we first wrote “Designing a Successful KM Strategy” there was originally an extra chapter; a tongue-in-cheek list of 50 ways to kill the strategy; a sort of “How not to do it”. The publisher didn’t like the chapter, concerned that it was a bit negative and sarcastic, so here it is as a blog post instead.

  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. It’s 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 it’s 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 are free to 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 organizational 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 KM 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 for KM.
  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 Here.

4 classes of knowledge for an organisation undergoing change

If times are changing, why not take a knowledge-centred view of the change?

If your organisational world is changing, it is easy to take an Activity view (“What will we do to cope with the change?”), but why not take a Knowledge view?

There are four generic classes of knowledge shown in the matrix to the right, which should be considered by any organisation going through major changes, major downsizing, or other big shifts.

Using this matrix, the organization can take a competency-based and knowledge-based view of the future, centred around the services and products it will deal with in the new future. Currently it has the knowledge and competence to deliver the old services, but it needs to move to a set of competencies needed to deliver the new, focused services.

We can think about this competence transition in terms of four areas of knowledge, as shown above, and described below.

Things we need to know in future, but don’t know now. This is the future competence which will need to be developed to operate in the new world. Those organisations which come out of recession as leaders tend to be those who invest in new competence. Knowledge Management can help develop new competence through processes such as Innovation Deep Dive and Communities of Purpose.  In the early days of delivering the new service, the organization will need to learn rapidly, with close attention to the lessons learned process; acting on the lessons from the past and capturing their own lessons, both to develop their own performance, and to share with followers.

Things we need to know in future, and already know now. This is current core competence which will be also needed in the future. Here the focus is on improving and streamlining the current competence, reducing inefficiency and waste, and controlling cost. Knowledge Management can help improve efficiencies through processes such as Lessons learned, After Action Review, and Communities of Practice, and through technologies such as Wikis, Portals and networking tools. Any staff reduction in these areas will need to be done very carefully. An excellent example of public-sector Knowledge Management and Lessons Learning can be seen within the Military sector, where considerable attention is paid to delivering the most effective result through learning from all activity. 

Things we know now, but will no longer need. These are the competences associated with the peripheral areas of business which we will cut, and may be transferred to other bodies. The knowledge associated with these areas should be either archived, or packaged and transferred. Knowledge Management can help retain and transfer this knowledge through processes such as Interview, Knowledge Exchange, and through technologies such as Wikis and Portals. These technologies can host knowledge assets for informing future service providers. The approach to knowledge retention and knowledge capture needs to start as early as possible, so that a measured strategy and process is set in place from the beginning. A model can be taken from NASA, where the strategy to capture and document the knowledge from the Constellation program (cancelled by the Obama administration) started a year in advance of the program closure.

Things we don’t know, and won’t need to in future. These are areas of non-core competence, delivered by others. These areas are outside the scope of work of the organisation, both now and in the future, but still may impact delivery.  . Knowledge Management can help address these areas through the creation of communities of interest along the supply chain, or across government agencies.

View Original Source Here.

Dealing with the important urgent knowledge first

We often say that “Knowledge Management must be focused on the critical business knowledge”, but how do we identify what that critical knowledge is?

There are actually two dimensions to identifying the criticality of a Knowledge Topic (at least in terms of steering your KM program). These are

  • Importance, and
  • Urgency
I have already blogged about how to identify the important knowledge – to start with your business strategy, identify the activities needed to deliver that strategy, then identify the knowledge needed to deliver the activities. These could be activities (and knowledge) at all levels in the organisation 
  • knowledge of how to enter new markets as well, as knowledge of how to sell products
  • knowledge of how to set production forecasts, as well as knowledge of how to operate a plant
  • knowledge of how to interact with host government environmental agencies, as well as knowledge of how to avoid pollution at your chemical plant
The knowledge can be new knowledge which needs to be acquired, cutting edge knowledge which forms your competitive advantage, or core knowledge which is needed to keep your income stream alive, and to fulfil your commitments. It can even be knowledge which is supplied by your partners and contractors, but which is still vital to your business. You identify the important knowledge through conversation with senior managers.

What about the urgent knowledge? This is the knowledge which needs urgent attention from knowledge management. There are at least four cases where knowledge can be in need of urgent attention. These are as follows.

  • When knowledge is important to the company, but we don’t have it (or we don’t have enough of it). Here the focus will be on the acquisition and development of knowledge – on innovation, knowledge creation, research and action learning.
  • Where knowledge exists widely in the company, but is siloed, and not shared, or otherwise not properly managed. Here knowledge is used inefficiently – advances in one part of the business are not shared and learned from, in other parts of the business. Multiple, and inefficient, solutions exist, where one or two solutions would be better. Here the focus will be on the elements of knowledge sharing, and knowledge improvement, such as communities of practice, lessons learned, and development of knowledge assets, best practices, and standardisation.
  • Where important knowledge is at risk of loss (perhaps through the retirement of key members of staff). Here the focus must be on developing and deploying a Retention strategy.
  • When critical knowledge is held by a contractor, partner or supplier, and they don’t have knowledge Management. Here the focus is on defining a Knowledge Management Framework for them to apply, to keep your knowledge safe.
How do you identify the urgent knowledge? You need to do a Knowledge Scan of the important topics, and shortlist the ones in most need to attention.

Those important and urgent knowledge issues are the ones that should drive your knowledge management strategy, tackling them one by one.

View Original Source Here.

When does Learning and Development take over from KM?

Knowledge Management and L&D are both part of the spectrum for Organisational Learning. But where does one take over from the other?

This topic has been a point of discussion ever since KM began.  Where does KM end, and Learning and Development take over?
We can look at this through the lens of 70:20:10, with KM facilitating the 70%, L&D the 10%, and both facilitating the 20%  in the middle. Or we can look at it through the lens of Push and Pull and knowledge flow. L&D is primarily a Push model of one-way flow of knowledge to the user, while in KM everyone is a teacher (or a supplier of content, if you prefer) as well as a learner. 

Another way to look at the question is to consider the characteristics of the knowledge topics themselves. 

You can use the matrix above to characterise knowledge topics using two dimensions; the maturity of the topic (see here for an explanation of knowledge maturity) and the number of people who need the knowledge.  L&D requires corporate investment in creating eLearning and training courses, and is best suited for knowledge which is mature and so not likely to change on a monthly basis, and which has a large enough user-base to merit the investment.  You can develop some marvellous on-line material to distribute this knowledge, and if the topic is mature, you don’t need to worry that the flow of knowledge is one-way. 
If on the other hand the Knowledge is evolving, changing and developing, you need the multi-way flow processes of KM, using knowledge from the users to continually improve the reference material. If there are many users of the knowledge, you are in Community of Practice territory. Knowledge can be shared between the CoP members, who can both use the knowledge and add knowledge of their own. The reference resources can be co-created on the community wiki and continuously updated with new experience. Creating an eLearning syllabur would be a waste of money, as it would be out of date in the first month.
Where there are few users of the evolving knowledge, a CoP solution may be too large-scale. Perhaps we need action learning, or a small group of interconnected experts acting as a global practice group. The focus here will be on knowledge creation as much as knowledge distribution.
The quadrant which is less clear is the bottom left quadrant above, where knowledge is mature (and thus we can focus on one-way knowledge flow) but there are too few users to merit investment in eLearning or formal training. Perhaps the answer here, of the knowledge topic is important enough, is to build the knowledge assets which will act as reference material, and maybe here KM and L&D can work together.
Of course the real world does not divide into simple quadrants, and knowledge topics are often on the boundaries between one quadrant an another. This is why L&D and KM need to cooperate – the corporate universities and the knowledge management teams working together to map out the landscape of knowledge topics, and deciding between them how best to keep that knowledge fresh, current, accurate, accessible and easy to assimilate and use. 

But in general terms, we can say that L&D takes over from KM when the knowledge topic is mature enough to be stable, and when the user population is large enough to merit the investment.

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