Monday, September 20, 2010

Pop-Up Knowledge Management

Frequently we talk about the need and the benefit of transferring and reusing experience and knowledge from one function or department of an organization to another function or department. Although the benefits go without saying, cross boundary knowledge sharing is not common.

Although the organization already has the knowledge, culture often does not encourage or enhance the possibilities or looking elsewhere for applicable ideas. Even as I write this, the logic of NOT doing that eludes me and at the same time I realize the difficulties in working across boundaries.

In the same spirit, looking outside of our usual realm for ideas from other industries, ideas presented to solve problems similar but not the same to our own is very useful and can be economically prudent. Like recycling and reusing materials, recycling and reusing our ideas brings us forward more quickly, with less time and effort.

So, today I looked outside of the usual ideas around knowledge management to the concept of Pop-Up Retail.

The idea of Pop-Up retail and Pop-Up stores is not new but it is getting increasing publicity. Why? Because it is a fast and inexpensive way to create a buzz about your product or service, sell items quickly and learn from your new customers.

Trendingwatching has done a number of stories about Pop-Up Retail over the years as well as lately and the July issue of Inc had a story about How to Do Pop-Up Stores

Why do I bring that up? Let’s take the concept and reapply it.

Let’s think about Pop-Up Knowledge Management (KM)or Knowledge Transfer (KT). We usually talk about the implementation of KM as a long process requiring perseverance and patience. Ok, so humor me here….What if we tried, as one part of our strategy, to use Pop-Up KM or KT?

If we apply the principles from the INC article, we concentrate on the buzz we could create to get the KM word out to the organization, the inventory we could let go (or the processes we could introduce to the audience), testing new products or vetting new business ideas. I don’t know about you, but I see the fit.

Jazz up the introduction of KM by creating very quick, impactful KM (and re-usable) activities like our ‘Active Learning Sessions’ , after action reviews, quick lessons learned, or even the 3 key questions to ask during meetings:
1. What is the most important thing we learned during the meeting
2. Who else needs to know
3. How will we inform them?

Do not make it difficult but do make it meaningful. Choose the right topic, create fun and easy to use materials and invigorate the audience by creating a buzz. Use internal blogs, meetings, posters, internal social networking,….or something very dramatic like email or phone calls to let them know the Pop-Up KM or KT is coming.

Let people know the process is available for a short time, let them know why, let them know how to use it and let them know what to do with the results. Then, make sure you communicate the results.

No, this will not shift the culture alone. Pop-Up KM is only one part of your KM strategy.

It will, however, create some excitement, some fun and help make KM or KT much more trendy and interesting. Be creative! Enjoy sharing the idea of KM and celebrate the outcomes, not matter how big or small they may be. Keep the momentum going!

And try something from another industry --- do this type of thing occasionally so people get used to the idea, are reminded to try it again, see that they are rewarded in a fun way for using it, make it part of the positive part of the culture

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