Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Knowledge Management: Where do you start?

The amount of critical knowledge, information, insights, ideas and learning in our organizations is overwhelming. We all want our teams to learn from each other, experts to share their way of thinking and leaders to make decision making more transparent. We know we need to learn from customers, vendors, academics and our colleagues.

What we don’t know is where to start. How do you begin to ensure the right people get just the right information exactly when they need it? What is that first step?

Change is driven by a sense of urgency. You can create a vision for managing knowledge and pull together a team of people to get it done, but without a sense of urgency you have little chance of making headway. We are all too busy in life to spend our time on things which have seemingly little impact when other things more immediate compete for our time and energy.

If you want to get people rallied around the need to manage knowledge, ensure you can clearly and concisely describe the problem you are addressing. Give them a purpose, an issue to solve which energizes them to do what is needed to get it done.

Organizations face many issues which can be addressed by efficient and effective knowledge sharing and transfer. Pick one. Pick the right one.
1.Is the issue well defined? If not, you will have a hard time making your business case.
2.Does it have a powerful, potentially far reaching impact? For people to sit up and take notice of the work you are doing, much less get involved and committed, they need to see the value in the outcome.
3.Is there a champion who will commit to visibly backing you to work it takes to solve the problem?

Go for an issue faced by a team which has been experienced before or probably will be again. That will give you both immediate and long term benefit.
Address an ongoing issue such as a new vendor partnership especially if the vendor needs to have operational, organizational or process knowledge aside from an SOP to get the work done.

Better yet, consider what issue keeps you or your colleagues (or your boss) up at night. Go for the issue that is most pressing. Begin there.

Start with a sense of urgency and develop the competencies and processes you need. All of the other necessary components to managing knowledge will begin to emerge, from culture and behaviors to organization of documents. Without urgency, none of the rest matters because no one will get on board.

1 comment:

Stan Garfield said...

Hi, Kathy.

I linked to this from my blog.