September 29, 2014

Don't #8 - Don't Forget About ROI

No matter what stage you are in your KM journey you will be asked the ROI (rate of return on investment) question.

  • You might be at the start of that journey and your CFO / line manager is asking what this "knowledge management stuff" will generate or produce for the organisation.

  • You might be at the end of your first year and facing a First Year Performance Review and suspect that you will be asked this question

  • You might be several years into your KM journey and while management were happy to hear success stories, now they want to hear about hard numbers

Determining ROI on knowledge management activities can be difficult and not as "scientific" as in other business activities.  In part this is due to the outcomes within each department / business unit being due to a number of activities that will be going on at the same time so to try to claim that 100% of the improvement is due to KM is wrong and inaccurate.

To get over this I prefer to use a balanced scorecard approach and I like to talk about before and after introduction of KM.  So for example I would include that before the introduction of KM it took 27 weeks to do that activity, but now it takes 21 weeks.  I wouldn't claim that the reduction in time was totally due to KM but that it had an contributory contribution.

In the balanced scorecard it would include things like;
  • hard numbers from departments focusing on incremental change eg before and after numbers
  • endorsements from business unit leaders, department heads and functional leaders
  • success stories
All of this however presupposes that you have established a benchmark from which to measure your improvement?

September 25, 2014

Don't #7 - Don't Forget To Manage The Stakeholders

It seems very simple and straightforward but stakeholders have a 'stake' in your project and it's outcomes.  While that might seem a very straightforward statement, how you implement it is far more complex.

One of the key tools in managing stakeholders is communication.

Again that might seem very straightforward and obvious, "I already know that", might be going through your head as you read this but have you considered how and what you communicate to each of those stakeholders.

One of the clients that I worked for was a expert in communication and communication media and they used the following process to identify what type of communication they would use when communicating with each stakeholder.

step 1 - identify the role of the stakeholder
  • R = responsible for the activity
  • A = approve the output from the activity
  • C = is consulted about the activity
  • I = is informed about the activity
then having identified the role of the stakeholder, they used the following to determine the medium or process to be used when communicating with that stakeholder

step 2 - the process to be used
  • face to face on all occasions
  • face to face when topic or time permits
  • individual briefing note
  • newsletter
  • web page
  • email via distribution list
  • interactive webinar
  • presentation only webinar
The process doesn't really matter, what is important is that they prioritised and targeted the communication to that they got the support and reaction from the individual stakeholders that they sought.  Why leave it to chance, why not stack the outcome in your favour, we are all under time and resource pressure so why not give yourself some additional time or resource by targeting each interaction with each stakeholder so that you get the outcome you desire and don't have to rework or put more effort into getting the outcome you desire.

September 15, 2014

I Want My Staff To Share Their Knowledge

I am sure we have all heard senior management say, "I want staff to share their knowledge" but the follow up or clarification on what knowledge is frequently missing.  This clarification might not seem all that important but just think of all the knowledge you have, what should you share that the receiver will find useful?

This week I learned;
  1. why the bag attached to the oxygen mask on commercial airlines doesn't inflate during normal use
  2. when we will discover alien life
Unless you are currently creating a business plan to launch a business translating alien language to English / Spanish / Mandarin you probably wont be too interested to know that it will be in 26 years.

Equally unless you are one of those people fascinated by how things work, you will probably just hope that the airbag just works, never mind how it works. 

Knowledge can be transferred by PUSH or PULL.  PUSH is when you decide that you have knowledge that other people could use.  PULL is when you ask people what they want to know, find out where it is and then help them to obtain it.  Knowledge obtained by PULL is far more likely to be used because you wanted / needed that knowledge, it wasn't something that was sent to you. 

We all live in a world where there are limited resources so why not optimise the probability of your efforts delivering benefit to you, the knowledge receiver and the organisation by focusing your efforts on PULL knowledge transfer.

September 1, 2014

Don't #6 - Don't Forget To Collect Your Own Stories

When we run engagement workshops for clients we use the Knoco stories, stories collected from over 15 years of implementing knowledge management in a portfolio of industries, government, military and not for profit organisations.  It works well, it creates a vision of what might be possible in the client's organisation but it's not their story.

From day one you should aim to systematically capture the stories that illustrate the journey of KM in your organisation, things that worked well, success stories, inspirational stories but above all, stories told by our own staff about your own organisation.

I like "talking head" video clips; ideally 30 seconds long but never more than 2 minutes.  People recognise "the head", they have a reputation and a network in the organisation, they will believe the story they tell.  Don't worry too much about the quality of the visual or audio, if the audio isn't great, put a text box at the bottom of the screen.  The aim is to capture the viewers imagination, give them confidence that the too can create that success in their part of the organisation.