Friday, July 27, 2007

Just how complicated can we make this?

I have come to believe some organizations and individuals allow themselves to feel overwhelmed by the task of identifying and sharing knowledge. They decide that managing knowledge is all too complicated and they just don't have time.

So, who said they had to start with the most complicated pieces and go from there? Frankly, starting at the complex, in my humble opinion, will lead to failure. It is like teaching a child to run before they walk or crawl-- simply doesn't work and isn't logical.

If every organization took it upon themselves to be disciplined enough to do the following, experience shows they could shift their culture toward a learning environment. Yes, with just the following changes.

1. For every meeting, create an agenda which includes a well crafted description of the purpose of the meeting, what role is played by the meeting (make decisions, have discussion, create new ideas, etc), identify those who are mandatory and those who are optional, describe each meeting topic and who will present it, and let people know if they are able to send a delegate or not.

2. Designate a note taker at the beginning of the meeting (or before) and clearly describe their role. Do not take verbatim notes (unless it is a requirement) but focus on the key learning, the action items, the areas for further exploration. Get the notes out to people directly after the meeting.

3. At the end of the meeting determine: What are the key learnings from the meeting, Who needs else needs to know them, How will they be shared?

The last three points are key. OK, this is simple, isn't it? Now, try to put it into play. What do you need to have in the organization and in yourself to make that happen consistently. If you do not have discipline to have effective and productive meetings, and share your learning after, what would lead you to believe you will have a successful complex KM initiative?

Let's keep it simple. Here is an example of a website that does just that. They know their audience, they know their content, they make it simple to reach. The subject (astrophysics) is not simple at all. But the subject seems quite uncomplicated on this site. Let's hear it for Harvard!

Don't fret that you have not yet found a way to put social networks to work. Get the basic hygiene of sharing knowledge right and you will come a long way. How complicated do you need to make it?

1 comment:

Freddie L Sirmans, Sr. said...

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