Wednesday, 25 June 2014

KM, what's in it for me?

Knowledge Management will work in an organisation when there is something of value in it for the people involved.

This is what we call the "principle of local value".

If KM is of local value, it will work. If the value is only for others, it won't.

The value is greatest when people can see themselves as benefiting from Knowledge Management, for example when they find valuable and useful knowledge using your KM framework (through Peer Assists for example or through asking questions in a Community of Practice).

Local Value from Knowledge seeking

These benefits for knowledge seeking can come through any of the following means
  • Assistance -- if people seek for knowledge, and find useful knowledge easily which they can apply to help them in their work, then this is a very powerful incentive to seek again next time.The knowledge can save them time, save them effort, and help them deliver better results.
  • Answers -- if people have questions, then the KM framework should provide answers 
  • Curiosity -- some people are much more inclined to look for alternative ideas and new approaches than others. Make sure that the KM system satisfies their curiosity
  • Trust -- if people trust the knowledge source, and trust the process of asking for help (in other words, they trust that they will not be ridiculed or criticised for needing to ask) they are more likely to seek for knowledge. 
  • Satisfying management expectation - people are very good at sensing (and doing) what is expected of them, and management can explicitly set the expectation that people will look for knowledge before starting something new. 
  • Peer pressure - people follow the example of others. If they see others successfully seeking knowledge, and being recognised for this, they are more likely to follow suit. 

Local value from Knowledge Sharing

The value of sharing knowledge is less clear, because Knowledge Sharing requires an investment of effort on behalf of others (for example holding a Retrospect, or collecting Lessons for others). Here is some of the value for people in sharing what they know

  • Pride, status and recognition -- people are more likely to share knowledge when they are proud of what they have accomplished. They are also more likely to share knowledge if the knowledge “travels with their name on it”.  Nobody likes to contribute knowledge which somebody else will claim credit for. Good behaviours in terms of capturing and sharing knowledge can be recognised through awards, through mentions from senior management, or via articles in internal publications
  • Reciprocity -- people are more likely to share knowledge with others when they expect to get knowledge back again at some time in the future (or have already benefited from the knowledge of others). 
  • Friendship and Loyalty -- people are more likely to share knowledge when they have built relationships within the community of practice, and feel that the knowledge will be used by people they know, respect and like. 
  • Altruism -- let's face it, some people are just naturally more helpful, and more willing to share what they know, than others. Work with these people in the early stages of implementation. 
  • Satisfying management expectation -- management can set the expectation that people will capture and share knowledge after a significant piece of work. 
  • Peer pressure - people follow the example of others. If they see others taking time out to capture and share knowledge, especially from projects that may not have gone well and where there may traditionally have been a reluctance to "wash dirty linen", they are more likely to follow suit. 

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