Monday 10 March 2014

Don't make Knowledge Management an Extra-Curricular activity

RT Library Lunchtime Book Group 2010 by RTLibrary
RT Library Lunchtime Book Group 2010, a photo by RTLibrary on Flickr.
A client said to me recently, while describing the use of KM in his new organisation,
"At my previous company, KM was seen as a resource; it was on your screen all day long, and one of first things you did was to log into the system. But in this company where I am now, its treated like one of those "lunchtime clubs" that you have at high school - not really part of Real Work at all".
 At high schools in the UK and US, lunchtime and after-school clubs are set up for "Extracurricular Activity", which means all activities that are not related to the real educational work of the school.

These are clubs like the chess club, the football club, the gardening club. Good for added development of children who volunteer to be involved, but not part of the Real School Day.

In this client's new organisation, Knowledge Management is treated as a "lunchtime club"

  • It is voluntary, not required
  • Many of the events are relegated to lunchtime or out-of-work hours ("lunch and learn", "breakfast and learn")
  • CoP activities are primarily social rather than focusing on business value
  • It is not treated by management as part of Real Work
This is a very precarious place to be as a knowledge manager

No business has time for optional activity, nor for things that are not seen as Real Work. There will come a time of reduced budgets, and "tightening of belts", and that is when the optional, additional, "lunchtime activity" gets cut, and yet another Knowledge Management program is wound down.

Ladies and gentlemen of the KM world, please avoid this trap.

Please do not be seduced into using out-of-hours times for Knowledge Management, as if it were a lunchtime club. Knowledge Management IS real work; it's how we continuously improve the way we operate as an organisation. If the company does not see it as real work, then create the evidence to convince them. Focus your KM activities on solving real business problems. Create the KM business case. Schedule your Peer Assists and Knowledge Exchanges for prime business hours.

Don't treat it as Extra-Curricular.

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