Lots of managers assume that knowledge management is "something my staff need". They therefore set up KM initiatives to cover routine tasks at low levels in the organisation. They might set up a KM program to improve call centre response, or to improve shift handover, or to improve productivity on the assembly line.
This misses the point.
Knowledge Management is something that is of value at all levels. Knowledge supports decisions, and decisions are made at all levels. In fact the most valuable and risky decisions are made at senior level. The default approach to supporting these senior management decisions is to hire a big-5 consutant firm to supply the knowledge, but there is no reason why KM can't help as well.
So when you are proposing KM pilots, look for pilots at senior level, to support the big decisions. Here are some examples from the past.
Knowledge Management to support mergers and acquisitions. There's a massive, high level task, which requires big decisions. Learning from past mergers can materially improve future mergers.
Knowledge management to support new business. Companies may open new offices, or start up in new countries. With knowledge, this start-up may be quick and effective. Without KM, the start-up may hit snags, be delayed, or fail to deliver the required business results.
Knowledge of leadership. That's a massive issue! One company uses a detailed 6-monthly staff survey to measure morale, and gathers insights and learning from the managers of high-morale teams to help develop leaders in the organisation. Another has build an entire knowledge asset providing knowledge for plant managers.
Delivering a high level KM pilot on these areas has three benefits.
- It delivers massive value to the business
- It engages senior managers in KM, and helps them understand the value KM can bring
- It gets senior managers on-side, by solving their problesm for them (see the thorn in the lions paw).