January 26, 2015

I Am Retiring But Nobody Wants My Knowledge

Imagine the scenario; HR has been in contact and invited you to the pre retirement seminar prior to your pending retirement.  Everything seems to be in place for that retirement but yet something worries you, nobody has asked about handing over your knowledge and experience.  Nothing is being done to create a legacy, you are just going to walk out the door and within six months nobody will remember you or the vast contribution you made to the organisation.

Perhaps your organisation has a knowledge management team but for some reason you aren’t on their radar.  Perhaps they just don’t know how vital your knowledge has been to the success of the organisation, perhaps they are focused on another area of the company, perhaps they just don’t have sufficient resources to do everything they wish to do.

No matter what the reason, perhaps instead of being passive you need to become proactive in highlighting the value of your experience and knowledge and why something needs to be done to retain it.

Perhaps the first step is to conduct a knowledge scan of what you know and categorise the knowledge that you have into;

  • Obsolete – things you know how to do but it is very unlikely that the company will need this knowledge in the future
  • Short term – things that you know how to do and would be immediate benefit to someone who will be doing a similar role to yours in future
  • strategic – things that you know how to do that will be essential for the organisation as it moves forward

Once you have completed the three lists, starting with the short term list, put the items in order of priority or value, with the one that will be of most value to the user at the top, least valuable at the bottom.  Think about it in terms of what they will value most, not what you value most.  They will be the ones using the knowledge so think about it in terms of what they want, not what you think they will need most.

With the most valuable one, start to construct a knowledge asset and write down things like the answers to FAQs, hints and tips, text books and papers that you would recommend, collect templates and worked examples, even people that you liaise with or work with on that topic.  Once you have the draft of the knowledge asset completed organise a meeting with HR and the KM team and take them through what you have produced and the process used.

Your knowledge is now tangible and they will be able to see for themselves the value that would be lost to the organisation unless further work in undertaken. 

Your legacy is assured.

January 20, 2015

Executive Fear Of KM

There are very many stories of the benefits of knowledge management in business, my colleague Nick Milton's blog contains over 85 individual case studies of the successes achieved so why aren't all companies doing KM?


One reason that all companies aren't doing KM could be that their executives are afraid of it.  When you think about the 'typical' executive, they probably have grown up in an environment where managers were in charge, there was a clear hierarchy and commands flowed from the top down.  Perhaps the notion of staff collaborating with each others in Communities of Practice seems like diluting the power of the line manager, perhaps it seems like chaos.  And there is also the potential for large investment in IT infrastructure, no wonder they are afraid of KM!


The following five steps might help to remove that fear;

  • Assessment – find out what’s working and why as that will give you a great insight into how to design a successful KM system
  • Vision – what does your executive want to achieve from KM?  As a KM professional you might assume that it is a MAKE Award but perhaps your executive would prefer increased market share, reduced operating costs or perhaps entry to a new market.
  • Framework – this is what management and staff will use in a day to day basis to manage the knowledge of the organisation.  It will cover roles, processes, technology, metrics and governance
  • Implementation plan – treat the introduction of KM to your organisation as a project.  Use traditional project management tools such as resource planning, budgets and timelines to manage the project.
  • Governance – this is a step that is frequently missed but it is vital in providing assurance to the executive that what you promised will and is being delivered.

The above five steps should assist you to manage fear that your executive might have over the introduction of KM to your organisation.

January 13, 2015

I Don't Believe It

I like books of facts, trivia and lists.  I am not entirely sure why I like them but I do, I find them fascinating.

When reading them my reactions commonly include;

  • Didn’t know that
  • That’s amazing
  • I wonder how they measured / calculated /verified that

But last night I had a very unusual reaction;

  • I don’t believe that

Now given that it was presented as a fact, I could have left it there and just moved onto the next fact in the book but it bother me that something that was being presented as a fact was so far from my own belief system that I had to do something about it.  There was no reference given as to the origin of the fact, no obvious way of verifying it.

The fact was “The original purpose of the United Nations was to win the Second World War”.  Now on the surface this isn’t the most dramatic statement ever.  If you don’t agree with it, move on.  But it was like a stone in my shoe, it annoyed me.  It also annoyed me that there was no reference that I could follow up with.

Imagine my surprise when I type “The original purpose of the United Nations” into Google (other search engines are available) and opened up a page “History of the United Nations” and there at the top of the page was

The name "United Nations", coined by United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt was first used in the Declaration by United Nations of 1 January 1942, during the Second World War, when representatives of 26 nations pledged their Governments to continue fighting together against the Axis Powers. http://www.un.org/en/aboutun/history/ )

So the fact was correct after all!

This experience reminded me of one of the lessons that I had learned about packaging knowledge; the reader must always being able to go back to the original source and if required verify the authenticity of the material.  I normally include a photograph, email and if it exists, link to the client’s in-house yellow pages (skills directory) page for the individuals who have provided the material. 

Sometimes when someone is reading the captured knowledge, it won’t immediately strike them as being correct (just as happened to me above) and they need to be able to validate or find out more for themselves.  Including contact details is best practice.

January 6, 2015

Experience Of Reviewing A KM Portal

The Knowledge Manager asked me if I would review their KM Portal and provide him with feedback on how it compared with other organisations that I had worked with.

The first thing that I noticed was that it looked ‘nice’, it was easy on the eye and gave the impression that this company was serious about managing their knowledge.  It was easy to navigate, didn’t involve extensive scrolling and had an easy to read font.  Initial impression was very favourable.

I knew that they have put a lot of emphasis into CoPs and yellow pages so I decided to look at these next.

Within the CoP section there was a heading ‘best practice’ and when I clicked on it, a list of appropriate best practices appeared.  I decided to have a look at the best practice that the community had created but was disappointed to find that the best practice was a external web site.  There was nothing to indicate that the best practice was owned and validated by the community members.  Each of the best practices was from another organisation or just a link to an external blog. 

I found when I looked at the other CoP pages that again they had used external material for their best practice content and there was zero evidence of the community owning, validating or updating the content.  It might have been best practice but there was zero evidence that it was their best practice.

My expectation was that a skill directory would have at least the following fields;

  • First, Last & Known Name
  • Photo Upload
  • Job Role/Title
  • Telephone Contact Numbers
  • Manager & Assistant
  • Organisational Structure
  • Fully featured free text area
  • Identify skills from taxonomy
  • Identify languages spoken
  • Colleagues & External Contacts
  • Links
  • CV/Resume upload


The yellow pages area had a skills directory and telephone directory so I am sure you can imagine my disappointment when I found that the skills directory was little more than name, telephone, email and a single line description of their skills.  I suspected the skill might actually be their job title or job description rather than a description of the skills that they possessed.  I struggled to imagine how their staff would find the skills directory of value.

The KM manager was receptive to the feedback, perhaps he had already been told similar things by users of the portal and now has a plan in place to re-vitalise the communities, part of which will be to create best practices that the communities actually own.  He is also investigating commercially available yellow pages, skills directories.