In my previous post on defining KM program governance, roles and job descriptions were discussed. This post covers organization structure and meetings.
Composition of program staff, virtual teams, and leader communities
To manage the KM program, engage the constituents, and ensure alignment with the Top 3 Objectives, the following teams and communities are recommended.
Program Staff: A work team with formal reporting lines. It manages projects, resolves problems, and reports progress. It includes the organization KM leader and the project leaders.
Core Team: A virtual team, by invitation of the organization KM leader. It sets the direction of the organization program, debates issues candidly, and makes decisions. It includes the program staff and the group KM leaders.
Knowledge Assistant Team: A virtual team, by invitation of the organization knowledge assistant leader. It monitors trends, manages performance, and facilitates backup in responding to requests. It includes the organization knowledge assistant leader and all knowledge assistants.
Group Teams (e.g., for a region or business unit): Virtual teams, by invitation of the group KM leader. They set the direction of the group program, debate issues candidly, and make decisions. They include the group KM leader, all KM leaders within the group, and all knowledge assistants within the group.
KM Community: A community of practice open to all within the organization. Its purpose is to share, innovate, reuse, collaborate, learn, communicate, solicit input, and provide feedback on knowledge management. It includes the core team, all other KM leaders, and all knowledge assistants.
For the program staff, hire strong project leaders. For the core team, influence the managers in the groups to hire strong KM leaders. For the knowledge assistant community, ask all knowledge assistants to participate. For the group teams, the group KM leaders should influence the managers in the sub-groups (departments, countries, etc.) to hire strong KM leaders. For the KM community, reach out to as many people as possible who are involved with or have a passion for KM and invite them to join.
Here are three examples of possible group teams.
- European KM Team: Sub-groups are countries within Europe and region-level teams.
- Human Resources KM Team: Sub-groups are functions within HR, such as training, organization development, compensation, etc.
- Services KM Team: Sub-groups are business units within Services, such as consulting, outsourcing, and support.
Create collaborative team spaces for the core team, knowledge assistant team, all group teams, and for the KM community. Create a threaded discussion for the KM community, and discourage any KM discussions from taking place outside of this one. Funnel all knowledge sharing, requests for help, and general KM communications through this single threaded discussion. And use it to model behavior for community leadership, participation, and communications.
Objectives and schedules for recurring conference calls and meetings
When you have formed KM teams and communities, you need to decide how and when to meet. Before scheduling calls and meetings, define the objectives for meeting.
Here are suggested objectives from which to select:
- Communicate progress
- Receive feedback on work
- Solicit inputs on future direction
- Educate and inform about new ideas, industry trends, and what other organizations are doing
- Stimulate discussions
- Make decisions
- Initiate pilots
- Evaluate prototypes
- Collaborate on analyzing information, solving problems, and innovating
- Share good ideas, success stories, and lessons learned to encourage reuse
After you select your objectives, poll the members of each team with three possible meeting frequencies and durations, and ask them to vote based on their preferences. For example, a weekly 60-minute conference call, a biweekly 90-minute conference call, or a monthly 120-minute conference call.
Once you decide on the frequency and duration of calls, use whatever technology is available to you to make the entire process as smooth as possible. Consider the following possibilities:
- Use tools such as Skype, Zoom, or Google Meet for video conferencing.
- Record the calls and provide playback on demand.
- Post the meeting agendas to the team space, along with copies of presentations and links to virtual meeting rooms.
Here are some keys to making regular conference calls successful.
- Work hard to ensure that the calls are lively by carefully creating agendas, stimulating discussions, and asking questions.
- Schedule dynamic guest speakers, both internal and external.
- Allow any member to add items to the agendas for future calls.
- If agendas don’t fill up, suggest topics and speakers until they do.
- Moderate the calls to ensure no background noise, adherence to agenda times, and to regulate discussions.
After the calls have been held for a few months, tune the schedule, duration, and content. You may need to increase or decrease frequency and/or duration. Don’t hesitate to do so. This reflects being adaptable, one of the attributes of a good knowledge manager.
One of The KM 10 Commitments is: Ensure that all KM leaders have the time to do a good job in the role and are allowed to meet in person once a year. And one of the Top 10 Priorities is: Get the senior executive to live up to The 10 Commitments. This priority includes: Submit a proposal for the first annual meeting. Another of the Top 10 Priorities is: Hold annual worldwide face-to-face meetings to get all KM leaders informed, energized, and collaborating. Top 10 Priorities has further details on how the meeting should be structured.
Once your KM community has been formed and met by phone a few times, you can ask them for their inputs on when, where, and for how long to have the first face-to-face meeting. Try to include as many of the key KM leaders as possible, but limit the total attendance to no more than 50 to keep the meeting manageable.
If possible, try to rotate the meeting location between different parts of the country or world. To take advantage of the meeting location, invite as many KM leaders who will incur low travel expenses to attend. For example, when meeting in Europe, invite the KM leaders from all of the European countries, but only a few key leaders from other regions.
The third and final post in this series will cover planning, scheduling, reporting, and decision making.