Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Four roles for the KM team

I presented this Boston Square in a recent blog post, to talk about the different polarised attitudes companies can take to knowledge transfer.

 This differentiation into different types of knowledge transfer carries over into the role that the KM support team can take, and suggests 4 potential endmember roles.

I ask all KM professionals reading this, to identify which role(s) they are currently focusing on, and which role(s) they are neglecting.

A KM team that focuses on Explicit Push, or Share, takes the role of a publishing house. They are forever seeking contributors and publishers, to make sure that the flow of explicit knowledge is pushed out to the organisation. If your biggest worry is how to incentivise explicit  content, you are taking this role.

A KM team that focuses on Explicit Pull, or Search/Find, is taking the role of a Library team. They are concerned with taxonomies, ontologies, findability, cross-linking, structures, and owners, to ensure that people can find what they need in the explicit knowledge base.

A KM team that focuses on Tacit Push is taking the role of an events promoter (think of a promoter of lecture tours or concerts).  They are concerned with getting the experts to tell what they know and tell their stories, and with arranging venues and events and spaces where people can hear the stories.

A KM team that focuses on Tacit Pull takes the role of a help center and contact broker. This is the role taken by the US Army Centre for Lessons Learned in the famous story. They are concerned with getting questions answered, and putting people in touch with others, and with documents, that can help.

Everyone will have their preferred role (and my preferred role is the last of the 4, because I think it is the most effective in the short term, is easiest to get off the ground, and changes the culture faster than any other approach), but the key for any KM program is that you need to fulfil all 4 roles.

You need to fufil all 4 roles, as different knowledge needs to be transferred in different ways, and to focus on only one quadrant of the diagram is to miss 75% of the possibilities KM can deliver.

So tell me, what role(s) are you taking, and what role(s) are you neglecting?


Kenneth Huie said...

Thanks for your insight Nick, at this stage we're a small collection of all four, but I'd like to see us focus more towards the Tacit Pull; getting people to the information they need is soo important. I'm thinking of implementing a 'help me find...' button on our site as a short term means of assisting users connect with persons and knowledge. In the long-term we need the culture and capabilities in place to make this happen naturally...

Paul J Corney said...

Nick well thought through; in many organisations especially where KM is closely linked to comms the push (publishing model) is to the fore. You (and your readers) might find this of interest - the Natural England work is a great example (their knowledge charter) of how the culture is worked upon and how its become embedded through the charter.
Paul Corney Sparknow

Anonymous said...

It's too bad the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell " policy explicitly forbids half of the squares on your KM chart.

Sudha said...

tacit segment is the most crucial yet most difficult to manage though..smaller organizations dont see the potential and larger organizations dont have time...

Nick Milton said...

SMEs do it automatically. Some large organisations MAKE the time, and reap the benefits.

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