Friday, 14 October 2011


The four KM incentives expanded


I blogged recently about the four incentives for knowledge management; logic, emotion, expectation and peer pressure.  When I was in Brazil last week I was asked to expand on these, and I thought I would share that expansion with you.

The first incentive, the incentive of logic, is the one that you have to address first, when you start off knowledge management in your organisation.  There needs to be a business case, there needs to be a logical business driver for knowledge management, and this needs to be explained in a very simple way.  In many ways, you need this logical argument in order to convince management to let you even start, and when you to start communicating about knowledge management, again you have to start with the logical business case.  This is not enough to convince people, but it needs to be in place before or any of the other incentives can work.  It can be really helpful if you get your CEO or another senior person to give you a sound bite in which they “make the logical case”. 

In order to bring the second incentive, the emotional incentive, into play, you need to have some success stories from within the organisation.  A good success story, told on video by the people involved, can begin to convey the value of knowledge management emotionally.  People tell how much it helped them, how knowledge management solved a problem, or reduced a risk, or added value.  Through these stories, you can begin to project a human face onto knowledge management that goes beyond the logical business case.  You can make it personal.  But you can’t make it personal until you have piloted KM and have some success stories, and the stories really need to come from within your own company in order for people to identify with them.

The third incentive, management expectations, comes later after the piloting phase.  Once you have defined how knowledge management will work within your organization, when you have piloted the knowledge management framework of roles, processes, technologies and governance, then your managers can set clear expectations and targets for knowledge management, and by doing so they give the message that knowledge management is now part of the job.  Most people go to work to do a good job, at some stage managers need to set the expectation that in order to do a good job, you need to include a component of knowledge management.

The fourth incentive, peer pressure, comes later again.  Once you’ve made the business case, piloted knowledge management, delivered the success stories, defined the framework and set management expectations, then as you begin to roll out knowledge management across your organisation a larger and larger number of people will begin to be involved.  This is where peer pressure comes in; when people see others involved in communities of practice, re-using lessons, sharing knowledge online and so on, then knowledge management becomes “business as usual”, and not doing knowledge management becomes seen as unusual.

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