July 9, 2014

Don’t #3 – Don’t Allow Anyone To Start A CoP

Communities of Practice are very powerful forces and are well documented in their benefits to an organisation.  There is however a potential rat hole that you can go down by allowing anyone to start a community based on what they think the business requires.

This commonly happens when the company provides technology such as SharePoint and allows anyone to establish a ‘community’ space at a whim.

A much better practice is to have a defined process for establishing a community of practice which includes such thing as a community charter and management validation step.  The community leader (or person who wants to start a community) presents their case for such a community to management and seeks their endorsement.  Only after such validation should the community be brought into existence.  It also prevents or at the very least challenges the creation of very small communities which have been proven to be much less effective than large CoPs.

July 6, 2014

Don’t #2 – Don’t Focus Your Investment On One Area

Any knowledge management program should divide its investment evenly between;

  • People (roles)
  • Process (activities)
  • Technology (hardware and software0
  • Governance (metrics, monitoring and assurance)

If you find that your allocation of resources (money and people) is biased towards one of these categories you should challenge yourself to explain why.  A heavy bias towards technology should raise concern as the ‘provide them with technology and they will do KM’ strategy is very widely known to be flawed.

July 2, 2014

Don’t #1 – Don’t Proceed Without A Business Case

Investing in knowledge management should be treated the same as any other investment of your time and effort.  Be clear on the desired out come or prize that you wish to achieve.  The prize might be a hard metric like;

  • Reduced cost
  • Improved profit margin
  • Increased market share
    If you work in a government department or a not for profit organisation, your prize might not be described by hard metrics like those above but softer metrics such as;

  • Providing an improved level of service
  • Delivering the service to a larger number of people
  • Increased staff moral

Whatever the metric you wish to use, you should be able to describe the prize or desired outcome.  Think about it like setting sail for some distant port, if you don’t know the port you wish to arrive at, you could end up anywhere or nowhere.

The business case doesn’t need to be complex but it should include as a minimum;

  • The desired outcome or prize
  • The level of investment needed to deliver the prize (time, money, people)
  • Who will be involved (internal and external) and what sort of time commitment will  you need from them
  • What support do you need from senior management
  • How will you monitor performance and ensure you are on track to deliver the prize
  • What are some of the risks and barriers you might encounter
  • Communications strategy

Once you have written the business case, socialise it and gain support with decision makers and key influencers.  Once you have that support, present it to management for approval and use it as your high level plan.