Wednesday, 14 January 2015

How to change culture - the importance of "first followers" in KM

If you are leading a change program such as Knowledge Management in your organisation, it is not so important what you do yourself - the most important thing is what your first followers will do, as that is what others will be watching.

I have shared this video before, a few years ago, but it is so good that I thought I would share it again. 

This is a 3-minute video of a culture change which happened at Sasquatch Music Festival in 2009.

You can clearly see, with the help of the voice-over, the importance of the first follower in validating what the change leader is doing, and in "making it OK" for others to join in.  You can see the first follower, the second and third, and then the tipping point where the culture change really takes hold.

In change management terms, you (as Knowledge Management leader) are the shirtless dancing guy.

The first followers are the people who commission and lead the first "proof of concept" exercises or the first Knowledge Management pilot projects.

You need to ensure that

  • The first followers succeed
  • They "own the success", rather than you owning the success
  • They are seen widely to have succeeded ("a movement must be public", so make their success a key part of your communication strategy), and
  • You are Easy to Follow, so that the barrier of entry (ie the difficulties of being the 3rd, 4th, 5th followers) are as low as possible.
Contact Knoco for more advice on how to get the KM party started.

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