Thursday, 24 November 2011

Back to Front approach for KM

zebra back to front

 I had another request for advice recently from a guy I know; he is a good guy, he sees the value in KM, and wanted my comments on a proposal he wants to make to his management. Reading it made my heart sink.  It was KM; back to front.

You know how I always say that KM should be business-led? That if it's not addressing a business problem, that it isn't worth doing, and is doomed to failure? Well, his approach was far from business led.
First of all, his objective is to “try a community of practice”. So instead of looking for a business problem and choosing a KM solution to address it, he has chosen a solution, and is looking for something to use it on. A solution looking for a problem, rather than the other way round.
Secondly, his community of practice” has a membership of 10 people, spread around the globe. This is VERY SMALL for a global CoP.  Usually you would be looking for 100+ people. He will need to try very hard to make this work (unless these people are the core of a larger CoP or CoI), and I have a strong feeling that it is doomed to failure from the start.
Thiurdly his community objective is to “share best practices”. Not only is this not a business focus, it is a Push focus, and communities work best through Pull.
Fourthly he plans to use a wiki and a discussion forum as the main tools. For 10 people! When they could just as easily have a phone conference, and speak to each other instead.

Friends, your first steps in Knowledge Management should be careful ones. You nly have one chance to make a good impression, so plan your pilot carefully. Make sure it solves a business issue. Make sure you choose a solution that will work. Drive it through Pull (at least initially). Transfer knowledge through the easiest mechanism; through dialogue wherever possible. Set your pilot conditions so that you are most likely succeed. Then once you have that initial success, you have a sound platform to build on.

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