Knowledge Management (KM) is not antiseptic or tech neutral. One thing we know for sure is that there are new and more powerful ways to connect and they have a huge impact on KM. The “social” component has naturally opened up a new study area but this does not mean that KM efforts will be replaced entirely by a “social” knowledge management platform. Even if we agree that such a platform plays a vital role in KM practices, there is another issue. How can we expect it to generate value if we don’t have a strategy in place?
For KM, strategy begins with the identification of the organization´s strategic knowledge. This will provide clear guidance and tangible actions based on current needs and goals. This is usually carried out through a workshop where participants discuss and analyze various aspects related to the organization´s strategy (you can carry out the exercise for specific areas, projects teams or even at an individual level). Participants are defined by the leaders and a prior step is required in order to identify and structure the information that will be used as input in order to identify knowledge. This information is usually related to the organizations strategic plans, objectives, strengths, weaknesses, market metrics, etc. and may derive from different sources such as PMO, marketing and commercial.
The end result is a knowledge matrix (knowledge that supports the strategy) and the actions which are needed in order to develop it. It is important to prioritize knowledge so that you can carefully assign resources and have a clear idea where to start. I have witnessed various instances where many ideas spring up, but finally only 20% of the identified knowledge is really strategic. In GMD we designed a knowledge matrix which allows you to place a score on the knowledge identified taking into consideration a specific set of variables. The matrix ponders the score and automatically assigns knowledge a level of importance so that we have a clear view of what really matters. If you wish to find out more about how we carried out the process and the tools we use, feel free to drop a line and I will gladly get in touch with you.
Another thread woven through KM literature is related to culture; we can´t keep a workforce in line by forcing them to share knowledge. It has to be embedded in their DNA and overall feeling is that there is a reluctance to participate and engage with KM. Culture must be brought together by leadership support, processes, performance evaluation and communication. People are the most important ingredient so they need to feel that KM is central to their work and that it´s part of the “work culture”. “Processes” refers to the arrangement and development of elements in order to deploy the Knowledge cycle: Create, Capture, Organize, Share and Apply. Such elements may include face-to-face and virtual community gatherings in order to collaborate, share and act upon knowledge.
From the above we could state that a KM model is made up of (1)Strategy (“What”- Identify and develop strategic knowledge); (2)Processes (“How”-Knowledge Cycle) and (3)People (“Who”-Culture). Recent changes have brought about new variables to the architecture: In a recent post I discussed the idea of tying Big Data with KM and APQC´s head Carla O Dell (2014) also discussed this point: “The initial business rationale is that an organization can show ROI for its knowledge interventions, and this is something you can do fairly quickly through analytics. But analytics also allows you to detect trends and what’s working and what’s not”. Also, workforce collaboration is changing as we speak and we can´t turn a blind eye to Gen Y and Millennials social behavior. I have defined this in terms of the “Three Cs” : connectivity, collaboration and co-creation”.
In today´s “fast” economy, accelerated knowledge creation, anticipation and use are the power driver of success. Getting there means developing KM in an effective manner and avoid getting caught in the triangle: “Technology first- deploy and develop strategy later”. Also bear in mind that leaders must act as the “Culture Architects” and steward the values required to build KM. As James McGregor stated “Leadership ultimately becomes moral in that it raises the levels of human conduct…of both leader and led, and thus transforms both”.
© Jose Carlos Tenorio Favero