Friday, 21 October 2011

Knowledge Management "Track Changes"

change This blog post is born out of a phrase used recently by my colleague Ian Fry. He was presenting in the ActKM Conference in Australia, and (in the context of measuring and demonstrating the value of knowledge management) mentioned the term "KM Track Changes"

What Ian meant by this is that you should be able to demonstrate that your knowledge management programme has actually made a difference.  You should be able to show that things have changed as a result of your knowledge management initiative.

So what should change?

I argued a while ago that the memory of an organisation lies in its procedures, as well as is its structures and other ways working.  The way in which an organisation works and is structured, represents the way it has learned to work can be structured.  If knowledge management is going to help that organisation learn to work better, then we should see the structures and processes and procedures changing as well (see this blog post about the learning loop) .  And we should be able to track those changes.

Here are some examples of how this is done.

In one organisation, new knowledge and new lessons are captured on a routine basis through after action reviews of the workforce.  Each lesson has an associated action, and each action is for a expert or process owner  to update a procedure or a process.  The route from observation to lesson to action to update is documented and tracked and reported.  For example, on a quarterly basis the administrator of the system reports how many processes have been updated as a result of new lessons.

Similarly, in the military setting, observations are collected from military activity, these are analysed by a team of analysts, actions are recommended, and these are sent to the doctrine owner in order to update the military doctrine (doctrine being what the military call process).  Again, this process is monitored and any updates are tracked and reported.

In another organisation, the processes are kept on a Wiki, which is owned and managed by the leader of the relevant community of practice. All  new lessons, all new observations, all new conversations within the community forum are forwarded to the community leader.  He updates the community Wiki based on this new knowledge, and of course with any Wiki the changes are tracked.  Community members are notified of any new knowledge in the Wiki.

In each case the organisation is not only using its new knowledge to make changes to the way it works, but is also doing this in a systematic and tracked way.

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