Monday, 8 April 2013

Embedding Knowledge Management

Embedded Artillery Shell at Fort Sumter I often have people ask me what "embedding" Knowledge Management actually means, and how you do it.

Embedding Knowledge Management means making part of the normal work process, rather than an add-on. You do this in four ways.

Firstly, you write Knowledge Management roles and accountabilities into the Organigram. You introduce new roles where needed (lesson teams for example, leaders and coordinators for the big Communities of practice, Practice Owners and so on), and change some of the accountabilities of existing roles (the most senior experts, for example, need clear KM accountabilities, as described here. You need to change their job descriptions, so that they are held acountable for stewardship of the company knowledge). Then you measure and reward people against their performance in these roles, and against these accountabilities, just as you measure and reward them against any other component of their job.

Secondly, you write Knowledge Management processes into the work cycles (using the principles of Learning Before, During and After). Change the project requirements, to include mandatory processes for capture of knowledge at the end of the project or after key milestones, and mandatory processes for reviewing past knowledge at the start of the project. Change the rules for project sanction, so a project gets no money if it hasn't done any learning.

Thirdly you change the technology suite so that Knowledge Management tools are available, and used, as part of the working toolkit, and linked into the existing work tools. While email remains the number one work tool for many people, then link your KM tools into this, rather than requiring people to acquire a new habit. New habits can develop later, when KM becomes part of natural behaviour.

Finally you change the governance. Make KM part of the company values. Write it into the policies. Write it into the way people are rewarded. Change the reporting requirements, the HR appraisal mechanism, change the incentive scheme to reward collaboration and discourage competition.
Do these, and KM will be fully embedded as part of "the way you work"

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