Knowledge Strategy was the theme of one of the two break-out groups at NetIKX’s 22nd September 2011 seminar led by Chris Collison.
A knowledge management strategy is something you should be able to hold in your head
Our discussion kicked off with what proved to be a slightly provocative but very helpful statement from Steve Dale: “A knowledge management strategy is something you should be able to hold in your head, not in your hand”.
People felt that you needed to start with something more explicit such as:
- An internal audit to discover what’s going on in your organisation and to identify what is needed
- A white paper to stimulate discussion amongst stakeholders
The ideal is to get to the point where the strategy has become the way people act, their way of working. Then, yes, it can be something ‘in the head’ (or tacit).
A knowledge management strategy depends on organisational culture
Stuart Ward in particular reminded us of the need to set the definition of the knowledge management strategy, and how it should be introduced, within the context of the organisational culture and values.
We agreed that we need to clarify organisational values first e.g. how open it wants to be, as these will influence attitudes towards knowledge sharing for example.
Organisational change will put knowledge management strategies back to zero!
Members of the group had direct experience of having had a relatively clear knowledge management strategy in their organisation, only to find that they had to start all over again as a result of mergers or acquisitions.
In addition, not only did redundancies result in loss of key knowledge with the departing staff, but in some cases they also resulted in the loss of those who were key drivers of the organisation’s knowledge strategy.
A key consideration is how to implement knowledge management strategies
We came back many times to the factors that were needed to enable successful implementation of knowledge management strategies. Participants mentioned the importance of leadership from the top, champions, opportunities for presentations combined with Q&A sessions, training, case studies / stories demonstrating the value of knowledge management etc.
For those wishing to explore this subject further, I recommended reading “Influencer – The Power to Change Anything”, by Kerry Patterson et al, McGraw Hill, 2008. This provides an excellent framework for shaping implementation strategies. A brief overview of “Influencer” is available in one of my earlier blogs on change management.
Technology is not the answer for knowledge management strategy, but it helps
Our discussion ended with a recurring theme for knowledge management practitioners: the role of technology.
One of the participants described the situation in their organisation where people carry out After Action Reviews or Learning Retrospects because this is something that is expected. However, they don’t necessarily understand why they are doing these, or what the outputs can be used for, so that the results effectively end-up in an IT ‘bin’ (or black hole).
Conversely, I mentioned the recent inspirational talk by Jimmy Walls, organised by the Cambridge Network, where he showed powerful video clips of individuals of all ages and backgrounds enthusing about sharing their knowledge with others through Wikipedia articles.
One of our participants suggested that knowledge sharing needs a social context: we share with our friends more than with our co-workers. The old ‘water-cooler’ scenario, lunch-time seminars (with lunch provided), creating open spaces for networking, were all approaches that we discussed for creating this kind of social opportunity.
Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting, a consultancy that helps business teams to enhance their effectiveness for greater productivity and improved team morale.
Elisabeth is also Programme Events Manager for NetIKX.