Friday 15 January 2010

KM translation services

The Cat Translator
Originally uploaded by Migraine Chick
I'd like to expand a little on a point in my last post, about the leader of the KM A team.

I said "Above all, the leader needs to be able to translate KM into the day-to-day working language of the organisation".

They key word here is "translate". The KM leader, and indeed any KM professional, needs a good understanding of KM theory and concepts, and is perfeclty entitled to use the jargon and the technical terms when planning, designing and delivering a KM apprach. But that jargon has to stop when you reach the internal customer.

Imagine someone, centuries ago, introducing financial planning to an organisation. They wouldn;t get very far if they started talking to managers about fiscal prudence, and flow of liquidity. They need instead to say "we would like you to do a budget, we would like you to submit a set of accounts". Similarly in KM you won't get very far talking to the business about tacit and explicit, and socialisation and externalisation. Instead you say "we would like you to do a KM plan, we would like you to submit a set of lessons learned".

Here's what a knowledge manager said to me recently

"I would be suspicious of (a KM leader) using knowledge management terminology.
I would like to hear business and customer terminology. When queried and
challenged on that, then they can explain it in a knowledge management way. To
me, that would suggest they understand the customer, and they understand
knowledge management and how to apply it to the customer and vice versa".

That's one of the most valuable things a KM leader can do - translate the woolly, theoretical, airy-fairy world of KM into real practical operational words and actions.

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