Here's another way to think about Knowledge-friendly culture.
OPEC is an acronym for the cultural elements that really support knowledge management.
- O is for Openness. Openness within an organisation is a great supporter for knowledge sharing - openness to new ideas, openness to learning, looking openly at mistakes and successes from the past.
- P is for Performance focus. A focus on delivery, and in using all available resources (including knowledge) to enable delivery. A drive to continually improve, will only be achieved through a focus on continually learning (see my blog post on knowledge and performance)
- E is for Empowerment. Staff need to be empowered to use the knowledge they find. Empowerment goes hand in hand with knowledge seeking - people need to be given their objectives, empowered to deliver, and provided with access to knowledge. Knowledge also empowers. Knowledge is power, knowledge management is empowerment.
- C is for Conversation. Steven Denning once said that a company's success in KM is related to it's ability to have good conversations. Conversations happen in teams, in projects, in networks, in peer assists and in community knowledge exchange. It is through conversation that knowledge is shared and exchanged.
OPEC companies (companies with an OPEC culture) will find KM a breeze, and an OPEC company has a real head start on the KM journey.
Tom and I were recently working with a non-OPEC company. There was no Openness - mistakes were hidden, reports were "sanitised", messages tweaked and wordsmithed away. There was no Performance focus. Focus was on looking good and going through the motions - whether there was any delivery at the end was not a driver. There was no Empowerment. Any report or finding had to go up through layers and layers of hierarchy before being approved. The one thing they were good at, was Conversation. They could talk forever. They aspire to KM, and they will greatly benefit from KM, but the process of culture change will be long, and will have to be tackled carefully, slowly, and in small steps