Sold, by Sean MacEntee on Flickr
I met a company Knowledge Manager recently who had a Marketing-based KM strategy.
Although the KM initiative was over 10 years old, the focus of the KM team was on marketing and selling Knowledge Management within the organisation. Through branding, through communications, through market research, they were marketing the application of KM in the operation units, and meeting with the operational managers one by one to make the sell.
It made me think, how long should you need to keep selling KM?
Are there any other management disciplines and initiatives that you need to sell in this way? And if so, for how long?
Do you still have to Market teamwork? Do you still have to Market Quality Management? Do you still have to Market Project Management?
If you still have to sell KM after more than 10 years, surely something is wrong?
In an ideal world, KM marketing comes in three stages, as part of your stages KM Implementation.
- Stage 1 (and this comes after the Assessment and Strategy stages) - you market KM widely in the organisation in order to identify suitable pilot projects. You are marketing the benefits of KM in order to find managers who need it - who are prepared to work with you to apply KM to business problems in order to solve those problems.
- Stage 2 - you market KM to senior managers. You use the results from the pilot projects to broker a deal with the senior managers; that they set KM as a corporate expectation and in return you deliver business value through KM. If they are not convinced by the pilot results, find out what evidence would convince them, and go and get that evidence, until the senior management team "buys" KM on behalf of the organisation.
- Stage 3 - as part of the roll-out campaign you need to raise awareness of KM in the operational units, and awareness of the fact that the senior management have now set KM as an expectation. By now the sell should be much easier. After stage 3, everyone knows that KM is now an expectation, so the selling can end and Support can begin.
For me, the big question when it comes to KM is "Who is the Buyer", and the big answer is "Senior Managers".
That's why Stage 2 above is so crucial. If you cannot get the Senior Management Team commitment to KM, then you are going to have to keep marketing at a lower level, trying to sell something that management don't fully support.
If they did fully support it, you would not have to keep marketing it.