Sunday, April 08, 2007

Sustaining the KM effort

You've seen it time and again-- I know I have. You identify a need in your organization. Perhaps you need to ensure meetings are more efficiently run or projects are tracked more effectively. You gather a team, create a process, communicate what you are doing, train those involved and there you go. Now, you think, the problem is handled. For a few weeks, maybe even a few months, it is. And then everyone goes back to past behavior.

This happens in knowledge management just as it does in our other change initiatives. Why? Because we are not nearly as good at or as interested in the work it takes to sustain our efforts as we are to start them.

We might develop an excellent process to identify lessons learned at the end of projects and we might even have created an excellent place to share and store them. Those pieces of the effort can be exciting and rewarding even while they are probably also challenging. We think some new whiz bang idea, process or technology is enough. We forget that we have just begun.

Organizations who remember that change takes time and focus, as well as patience and consistent effort are those in which change sticks.

There are some ground rules to sustained change. We may well know these and yet not want to follow them. Therefore change is not long lasting, we become impatient and often cynical. All of this is avoidable if we stick to our efforts. Here are just a few rules to follow:
  • Say it 7 times. People need to hear it again and again, especially while they are in the emotional aspects of change
  • Communicate in as many forms as possible
  • Continually relate what you are doing to the vision, and ensure the vision is something people can understand and embrace
  • Capture the wins and communicate them -- do this for as long as it takes and beyond. Make the communication of wins part of your way of doing business.
  • Role model the behavior you wish to see in others. Do not stop. Adopt it as your own. Talk about what you are doing and how
  • Don't let up. Above all, don't let up.

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