Friday, 29 August 2014

KM - changing hearts and minds one at a time

It's an old saying; How do you change hearts and minds? One at a time!

Implementing Knowledge Management is a change process - we all recognise this. Implementation involves changing behaviours and attitudes as well as changing workflows and toolkits.

You are tying to change attitudes towards knowledge; from people seeing it as a personal attribute to seeing it as a collective resource, from seeing it as a source of personal power to seeing it as a source of company power, and from seeing it as something acquired in the classrooom to seeing it as something acquired every day through work (see more details on the KM culture shift).

If people can understand this with their heads and grasp in in their hearts, then we have made the culture shift.

KM professionals, helping the organisation make the culture shift, need to recognise that these hearts-and-minds shifts cannot be made wholesale. You need to plan a campaign of culture change.

There are three weapons in your arsenal here - stakeholder mapping, communications planning, and a compelling case.

The compelling case

Taking these in reverse order, the compelling case needs to be a case for the individual as well as a case for the company, and ideally should be presented in such a way that the individual can "feel" the benefit, or "experience" the value of shared knowledge. We like to do this through exercises, such as our millionaire game, or (the King of all KM experiences) Bird island.

The compelling case can be made intellectually or emotionally, and the case can be made at organisational level or at individual level. The intellectual organisational case ("we will increase profit by x% through re-use of knowledge") needs to be there in order to change the minds. However it is the personal emotional case that will win over the hearts ("If we give you access to the best knowledge we can find, your life will be simpler, easier and less risky. Listen to this story from one of your colleagues ....").

The Communications plan and strategy

Communication is key to a change campaign, and we believe that communications planning needs to be one core component of a Knowledge Management strategy. To help you with this, we have produced a Communications Plan Template, which is available free of charge from our Downloads page. This template is one we use ourselves, and will allow you to
  • define which message needs to be given to which audience
  • define the medium for delivery of the message, the frequency of delivery, the owner and the sign-off for each message 
  • change the communication style and message as Knowledge Management implementation proceeds through it's four stages.

Stakeholder mapping

The final weapon in the KM managers (or CKOs) arsenal is Stakeholder Mapping.

There are many methods of Stakeholder mapping, most of which rely on defining relationships of power and influence (or power and impact). That's not what you need.

You need to map stakeholders in terms of buy-in and influence, and then you need to map, for the most influential stakeholders, how you need their level of buy-in to change over time. No one person buys into KM in a single step - there are several levels of buy-in maturity. We use an old Amoco model which recognises a ladder of 8 levels of buy-in to an idea, where people seldom move more than 1 or 2 steps at a time.

So once you have listed your stakeholders, look at your Knowledge Management implementation plan, identify the critical decisions, define the level of engagement needed from the critical stakeholders, and map out carefully how you will help them climb the ladder, step by step, reach that level.

That way, when the critical implementation decisions are reached, the hearts and the minds will be in the right place to make the right decision.

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