Monday, 21 January 2013
"Today we get married to Knowledge Management"
That was the, shall we say, "unusual" statement made by the convener of a KM seminar that I was speaking at last week. (I was either one of the ministers at the ceremony, or one of the bridesmaids - I am bit sure. Probably the former. Also he said it in Swedish. Thanks Tommy!)
By "getting married" he meant that the company in question was now formally intending to make Knowledge Management "part of the household", or an embedded component of how they do business.
The marriage idea struck me as an excellent analogy, largely by the way that it represented a definite and positive ceremony of commitment. Then I started taking the analogy further, and wondered whether you could take the phases of a love affair and map them onto the Knowledge management journey. Maybe it would go something like this.
You are not sure whether Knowledge Management would suit your company but you are definitely interested. You get the idea that there might be something there - that you might find something of value if you explored a little further. You are reading about the topic, you are following some of the blogs, attending the conferences, maybe holding some internal conferences or seminars. Maybe you set up your first KM task force, and run a KM assessment.
You have explored the topic sufficiently to realise that this is time for a serious trial, and for an investment of some time and money to find out if it is worth proceeding further. You set up your first Knowledge Management pilot program, to see if it works in your company, to see how it works in your company, and to see if it adds value, and if so, how much. To see if it "feels right". If the first date (pilot) works out, then it will be followed by the second, and the third, and so on.
Meeting the parents and getting their blessing
In older more sexist days, this would be "asking her father for his daughter's hand in marriage". Nowadays it is less of a hurdle, but there is a point where you need to declare your relationship with people "higher up", and discuss the next stage. In Knowledge Management terms, this is when you involve senior management. You discuss the pilots, you discuss the value, and you negotiate whether, and how, and when, you can make the relationship with Knowledge Management official. Senior management may need more evidence, or more pilots, but if you have a good enough business case and enough value stories from the pilots, they will be on your side.
This is the commitment to KM (and to be honest, last weeks ceremony was more the engagement party than the marriage ceremony. It was the point at which all the interested parties came together to get to know the new bride/groom). You start the transition, begin the roll-out, ramp up the change management, and get everything ready (the roles, the technologies, the processes, the governance) for the big day.
From this step on, the company and knowledge management are joined at the hip. There is a KM Policy in place (the equivalent of the marriage contract) and KM is now expected to be an integral part of the day-to-day activity of the organisation.
That's as far as I want to take the analogy at the moment, and we can leave the happy couple setting off on the honeymoon together.
It would be worth considering where you and your company are on this journey.