Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The challenge and payoff of managing knowledge

It never fails. About 3 times a week, sometimes more often, I am reminded that knowledge management (like personal growth) is not for the faint of heart. It is not easy. Occasionally (though not often) it is not fun. But it is almost always worthwhile, if we keep an eye toward the goal of building trust, collaboration, communication and respectfully sharing critical knowledge.

Even with good intentions, the work can be challenging. Just recently, I was asked to speak to a potential client who was well aware of the need in his organization to retain and transfer deeply held knowledge from those about to transition out of the organization. He knew there was business risk when that knowledge was no longer available, knew he may lose customers as new employees took over long standing accounts. He knew his business operations were not as well codified and understood as they needed to be to sustain success. He could look me in the eye and point out why he needed to use knowledge management.

Yet, he wanted one silver bullet, one answer quick and easy to solve the fact that he and the leadership team had not developed a culture of trust, had not role modeled collaboration and had rewarded heroism and individual contributions over collaboration and communication.

He was upset that I could not provide a 2 month answer to a problem it took 20 years to create. I could not, would not, lie to him.

I will not support the short sighted view of business I witness so often in today's environment. Managing knowledge, even the deeply held tacit kind, can be done in a timely, well considered, organized fashion but it will still take effort, time and patience. Knowledge is accumulated over time, through decisions made well and those not made well resulting in learning. Anything accumulated over time is worth taking some time and effort to sift through and pass on.

No, KM is not for the faint of heart. However for those who put their heart in their work, in their organizations and want to see sustained success, satisfied employees and returning customers, the challenge is well worth the pay off. I have participated in and witnessed that payoff many times and it is always worth the time it took to make it happen.

A new blog for you to review. kindness and excellence. Great topics and a well done blog:


Anonymous said...

I have worked specifically for two companies in my career who have been around a long time. They were both small business with owners who were getting ready to turn over the key, so to speak.

But there was a problem. A big problem. Actually 20-30 years of problems.

See both of these owners were incredibly hands-on in many of the decision-making processes. The knowledge that went into those decisions, the vision of success only they had, the historical understanding of the business - was all in their heads. Yet to be tapped by even the most trusted sources in the company.

This should be a growing concern as the baby boomers get older and start exiting their businesses that they help grow and make America prosper for so long.

Robert Stanke

markinsonmarshal said...

Reading this post it was a great experience got to knew a different perceptive of knowledge management and how do we per-sue it in a life span.Even I will agree with the conclusion that Knowledge is not for faint of heart rather it is the treasure collected by keep an eye toward the goal of building trust, collaboration, communication and respectfully sharing critical knowledge.
knowledge management