Originally published on October 7, 2017
I was asked to answer five questions about knowledge management. Here are my answers.
Q1: Do you use any standard model or framework of knowledge management?
A1: No, but I have defined standard KM activities, program implementation steps, program techniques, specialties, and components.
- Share what you have learned, created, and proved to allow others to learn from your experience and reuse what you have already done. This provides a supply of knowledge.
- Innovate to be more creative, inventive, and imaginative, resulting in breakthroughs from bold new ways of thinking and doing. This creates new knowledge.
- Reuse what others have already learned, created, and proved to save time and money, minimize risk, and be more effective. This creates demand for knowledge.
- Collaborate with others to yield better results, benefit from diverse perspectives, and tap the experience and expertise of many other people. This allows knowledge to flow at the time of need, creates communities, and takes advantage of the strength in numbers.
- Learn by doing, from others, and from existing information so you can perform better, solve and avoid problems, and make good decisions. Learning is the origin of knowledge.
KM Program Implementation Steps
- Create a Top 3 Objectives List of challenges and opportunities which your KM program will address. These objectives align business direction with program goals.
- Provide 9 Answers to questions about people, process, and technology. This information defines who will participate, which processes will be required, and how tools will support the people and processes.
- Define the KM Strategy. These are specific actions which will be taken to implement the program.
- Gain the sponsorship of your senior executive through The 10 Commitments. These commitments from the leader of your organization will enable the KM strategy to be implemented.
- Create and execute the Implementation Plan. This plan spells out the details of implementing the initiative. Contained in the Implementation Plan are program governance; desired modes of knowledge flow; people, process, and technology component selection; and implementation plans for some of the components, such as training, communications, and change management. Each one of these needs to be followed as part of implementing the overall plan.
KM Program Techniques
- Articulate the end-state vision. What does it look like when it is working? Establish a vision for how knowledge management should work and relentlessly work towards making that vision a reality. See Knowledge Management Visions for examples.
- Define compelling use cases. Don’t talk about adoption or roll-out of a tool. Talk about the advantages of using it over existing alternatives. See COLLABORATION, SAFARIS, and What are you supposed to do in a community? for examples of recommended use cases.
- Reuse proven practices such as 10 Priorities for a KM Program, 30 KM Insights, and 10 Tips for starting a KM program.
- Avoid traps such as 5 Pitfalls; KM Sins, Pitfalls, Mistakes, and Causes of Failure; and KM Myths.
KM Specialties, Components, and Frameworks
Q2: Do you think using frameworks and maturity models is the first step in implementing knowledge management in organizations?
A2: No. It can be helpful to identify your organization’s current and desired states for a knowledge management program. But each environment is unique.
Seth Godin wrote, “Benchmarking against the universe actually encourages us to be mediocre, to be average, to just do what everyone else is doing.” I recommend using frameworks, models, and benchmarking as sources of ideas, not as precise prescriptions to be slavishly followed. See Knowledge Management Maturity Models.
Q3: How do you motivate people to increase their participation in KM?
- How to motivate knowledge sharing using gamification, goals, recognition, and rewards
- KM Incentives and Rewards
- KM Goals and Measurements
- Gamification Applications and Digital Badges
Q4: What are the KM best solutions?
A4: There are no KM solutions that can be applied right out of the box. To meet the top 3 objectives of your KM program, choose the most relevant of the 50 KM components:
Q5: What are the trends in KM, and what does the future hold?
- Digital workplace and digital transformation
- Working Out Loud (WOL) and narrating your work
- Community management
- Cognitive computing and artificial intelligence (AI)
- Analytics and business intelligence
- Enterprise Social Networks (ESNs), especially Microsoft and Workplace by Facebook
- Chat tools such as Slack
- Gamification and digital badging
- Agile methodology
- Mobile apps and bring your own device (BYOD)
Digital Transformation: The role of KM
- Improve the user experience in the digital workplace
- Change intranets from one-way publishing to interactive Digital Experience Portals
- Champion the effective use of collaborative team spaces and Enterprise Social Networks (ESNs)
- Make web conferencing reliable and effective
- Make the enterprise search experience more like Internet search
- Implement social software, including podcasts and videos
- Promote the appropriate use of gamification
- Integrate e-learning with KM
- Facilitate the production and use of analytics
- Pilot practical uses for cognitive computing
Important Skills for KM
- Hard Skills
- Project management
- Processes: master a wide variety of methods, including agile methodology
- Technology: master a wide variety of tools, keeping up with the latest developments
- Analytics and cognitive computing: theory and practice
- Social media and gamification: stay current and apply effectively
- Soft Skills
- Community management
- Culture: promote knowledge sharing and openly asking and answering questions
- Intellectual capital: value intangible assets
- Leadership: influence others, lead teams, and inspire action and change
- Communications: write, speak, and present effectively
Actions for KM to better support the organization
- Identify the top 3 business objectives and meet the biggest needs of the organization
- Articulate the end-state vision: what does KM look like when it is working? Work relentlessly towards making that vision a reality by continually implementing, improving, and iterating
- Define compelling use cases: don’t roll out KM tools or talk about driving adoption
- Understand why people don’t share their knowledge, help them see why they should, and motivate them to do so
- Lead by example, practice what you preach, and model desired behaviors
The Future of KM