Friday 24 October 2014

The two questions you can use to drive a KM culture

If you are a leader who want's to help develop a Knowledge Management and Organisational Learning culture in their organisation, you can do this simply, by asking two questions. 

The two questions are
Who have you learned from?
Who have you shared this with?

If you are a leader, then every time someone comes to you with a proposed solution to a problem, or a proposed course of action, you ask “Who have you learned from”? Through this question, you are implying that they should have learned from others before proposing a solution – that they should have “learned before doing”.

Also, every time someone comes to you to report a problem solved or a process improved, or a new pitfall or challenged addressed, you ask “Who have you shared this with”? Through this question, you are implying that they should share any new learnings with others.

The great thing about leaders’ questions, is they drive behaviour. People start to anticipate them, and to do the learning before, and the sharing afterwards. People hate to be asked these two questions, and having to answer “umm, well, nobody actually”.

They would much rather say “we have learned from X and Y, and have a Peer Assist planned with Z”, “We have shared with the A community, and are holding a Knowledge Handover next week with B project”.

And once you drive the behaviours, the transfer of knowledge will happen, the value will be delivered, and the system will reinforce itself.

But the moment you stop asking the questions, people realise that you, as a leader, are no longer interested in KM, so they will stop bothering.

There’s an old saying – “What interests my manager fascinates me”, so make sure you are interested, and ask the questions.

(Incidentally, I discovered yesterday that two similar questions - "Show me that you have shared knowledge" and "Show me how you have re-used knowledge" - are embedded into staff appraisals at Microsoft, as a way of driving the right Knowledge-friendly behaviours).

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