March 24, 2009

Creating a Safe Environment for Knowledge Management

One of the critical success factors associated with introducing and sustaining knowledge management in an organisation is leadership support. The support must be very public and consistent. It is also about creating a safe environment for people to experiment and test processes and to learn. It can take a considerable amount of time and effort to create this environment but it can evaporate overnight if that leadership is removed or staff start to believe that the management isn’t being sincere.

So periodically, sense check that the support is still there and that nothing is happening to undermine the belief of the employees that the leadership is being sincere.

Knoco Ltd

March 23, 2009

Being Opportunistic in Knowledge Management

Introducing knowledge management to an organisation is a change process and you should be using project management techniques to plan and deliver the activities. In addition to this it is advisable to have a ‘strategy to be opportunistic’.

What do I mean by this? In simple terms in addition to your planned activities you should have a strategy on how you are going to spot those unplanned opportunities that could help you demonstrate the value of knowledge management to the organisation. You should also have tools that you can easily pluck from your toolbox and deliver at short notice.

Here is a scenario to illustrate what I mean.

Let’s assume there is a planned meeting of a group of people that you would like to influence or make more supportive towards the work of the knowledge management team. Ask the organiser if you can have a two hour slot. Assuming this request is granted, contact some of the attendees beforehand and ask them what is some of the key knowledge that the company / division / department needs. Create a short list of about 3 to 6 and prepare a flipchart with the title of each on a separate flipchart.

At the appointed time, put flipcharts on the wall and ask people to walk around them and indicate on each one whether they have knowledge to share on that topic or whether they want to learn more about that topic. You can ask them to put a tick or smiley face if they have something to share and a question mark if they want to know more about the topic. Don’t suggest a sad face as it seems to make people feel as if they don’t know anything about the topic. All you are asking is if they would like to know more.

A quick look at the flipcharts will indicate which one to focus on. You will need to decide on terminology eg learners and teachers; giver and receiver etc.

Having decided on the topic put the providers in one room and ask them to create their list of the top 10 things they think the receivers would want to know about this topic. The receivers are in a different room and are given the task of preparing their list of the top 5 things they want to know about the topic. Allow the groups 10 minutes to do this.

It is very, very normal to find that the lists created by the providers and receivers are very different. This is a valuable lesson in knowledge transfer that the participants will very often remark on during the AAR at the end of the session.

Bring them all together in the same room and allow the providers 20 minutes to present their list and allow the receivers to ask questions during the presentation. Have one of the receivers take notes on a flip chart of the key lessons, experiences, names of people, artifacts mentioned during the presentation and discussion.

For the next 20 minutes reserve the roles and have the receivers present their list of things they want to know about. Again during the discussion have the receiver scribe take notes.

For the last 10 minutes conduct a After Action Review on the process which will allow the participants to share their comments on the process and will highlight that it is very common for the knowledge provider to have a different perspective on what knowledge is required by the knowledge receiver. You can then build on this ‘revelation’ when you meet with them after the principle event.

Having the ability to react to unplanned opportunities is vital if the knowledge management team and its manager are to be successful.

The process explanation above is brief, just one of the processes we have in our toolbox.

Knoco Ltd

March 19, 2009

Annual Appraisal for Knowledge Manager

Over the years we have conducted a number of assessments on behalf of organisations. In most instances these have been the foundation of a strategy and implementation plan on how to introduce knowledge management into that organisation. Recently however we have started to receive requests for a variation on the assessment theme, a health check.

The first time we received the request it was from a Knowledge Manager who wanted to include it as part of his annual appraisal. He wanted to be able to demonstrate the progress that had been made in the last year and also what progress we thought should have been made in that period. We were happy to oblige and shortly thereafter I was able to take him through my findings.

Since then I have undertaken several of these health checks, either to report on the progress in the programme or as part of a Knowledge Managers’ annual appraisal. If you want further details, drop me an email or give me a call.

Knoco Ltd

March 18, 2009

Power of Branding in Knowledge Management

We are all aware of the power of branding and how it shapes our lives but have you considered how it can help or hinder your knowledge management activities?

If you have put together a new product or service why not refer to the know-how associated with it as Knowledge Capital? It’s a term that conveys value and worth.

Knoco Ltd

March 17, 2009

Knowledge Management - Move Slow to Move Fast

Welcome to the new location for my blog at www.tomyoungblog.com , sorry for the interruptions to postings, I didn't get the transfer process correct first time around!


Best practice in knowledge management implementation is to introduce knowledge management via piloting and proof of concept testing. This takes time and you might be tempted to accelerate things by jumping straight into rolling out the knowledge management system you have designed. You should avoid this temptation. The piloting stage allows you and the organisation to refine what you have designed and understand what will work, and not work in your organisation. So if you are tempted to skip the piloting phase, just think through the consequences, perhaps it’s better to go slow to go fast.

Knoco Ltd

March 13, 2009

Customer Marketing of Knowledge Management

Use the customer to market your Knowledge Management programme.

As part of your Knowledge Management implementation plan you will have a communications strategy and plan. While you and your team will be the main presenters and distributors of the message, a key component of the strategy should be to use your customers to speak on your behalf.

Think about the advertising industry, they routinely use ‘peers’ to tell you how good the product is. If you have a satisfied internal customer, consider asking them to share their experiences at internal training sessions, workshops and conferences. Ask them to talk about the metrics you are using to measure success. Their peers will possibly listen more attentively to them than to you!

Knoco Ltd

March 11, 2009

Staying Focused With Knowledge Management

If you are a Knowledge Manager one of the things you don’t need to be reminded about is that you have more opportunities than resources to deliver them. You probably run out of time each day. Let me suggest you need to stay focused. You only have so much energy and enthusiasm, invest it in the things that will deliver the objectives for your knowledge management programme. Sometimes you just have to say no.

Knoco Ltd

March 10, 2009

Knowledge Management Processes - Business Driven Action Learning (BDAL)

Have you ever found yourself in the position where your team / project or organisation has identified knowledge that it requires only to find that the knowledge doesn’t exist within the organisation? This is a situation that we at Knoco Ltd have found on several occasions when constructing Knowledge Management Plans for activities that are new to the group or where the group in innovating. For example developing a new product or moving into a new market.

One of the most effective processes for identifying and importing new knowledge to an organisation is the Business Driven Action Learning (BDAL) process.
The following is a much abbreviated description of the major steps in the BDAL process.
1. The knowledge need is defined, perhaps as the outcome of a peer assist or Knowledge Management Plan.
2. A team consisting of diverse individuals are brought together to work on the challenge
3. The team is educated in how to work as a team, problem solving and managing knowledge
4. Visits are arranged to locations / companies that could stimulate the though process and provide insights to the required knowledge
5. The team develop a potential solution which is presented to the sponsor
6. The sponsor accepts the solution unless a very good reason not to can be provided
7. The team is debriefed, their experience of being part of a BDAL team captured and used to update the Knowledge Asset on conducting BDAL projects.
8. The team in disbanded.

You can read more about BDAL on the Knoco Ltd web site or by listening to my video clip here.

Rate of Return on Investment (ROI) in Knowledge Management Programs

Some organisations want to be able to identify in advance the ROI (Return on Investment) that they will get from their knowledge management program. This can be very difficult to quantify.

An alternative strategy is to adopt a proof of concept approach. For example you might introduce the peer assist process and measure the impact that it produces. One organisation took this approach and using the peer assist process identified the top ten most significant risks facing their operation and the options they had to manage those risks. The net outcome of this peer assist was a doubling of throughput within a week of the peer assist.

The actual ROI for a doubling of your throughput will vary industry to industry; plant to plant but is likely to be substantial. The additional benefit is that the measurement and reporting of the impact will go via the routine management reporting system and will come to the attention of the senior management. The discussion on the impact that learning before can have will now be based on proven, approved results.

I have recorded a video clip on this which will be available here with all the other video clips or you can watch it right now here.

Knoco Ltd