Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Two questions that drive KM culture change - message to managers

Originally uploaded by Stefan Baudy
Culture change has been a theme throughout this blog (click the Culture label to the right), and I make no apology for this, as effective knowledge management is accompanied with a change in culture. But culture change is easy to say, and far far harder to deliver. Ultimately, you need to look at a governance system to ensure the KM culture is sustained, but way before that the leadership of the company need to be demonstrating a clear expectation for KM behaviours.

And actually, this is surprisingly easy for them to do. It involves two questions.
Who have you learned from?
Who have you shared this with?

If you are a leader, then every time someone comes to you with a proposed solution to a problem, or a proposed course of action, you ask “Who have you learned from”? Through this question, you are implying that they should have learned from others before proposing a solution – that they should have “learned before doing”. Also, every time someone comes to you to report a problem solved or a process improved, or a new pitfall or challenged addressed, you ask “Who have you shared this with”? Through this question, you are implying that they should share any new learnings with others.

The great thing about leaders’ questions, is they drive behaviour. People start to anticipate them, and to do the learning before, and the sharing afterwards. People hate to be asked these two questions, and having to answer “umm, well, nobody actually”. They would much rather say “we have learned from X and Y, and have a Peer Assist planned with Z”, “We have shared with the A community, and are holding a Knowledge Handover next week with B project”. And once your drive the behaviours, the transfer of knowledge will happen, the value will be delivered, and the system will reinforce itself.

But the moment you stop asking the questions, people realise that you, as a leader, are no longer interested in KM, so they will stop bothering.

There’s an old saying – “What interests my manager fascinates me”, so make sure you are interested, and ask the questions.

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