Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Learning your way through KM implementation

"No plan of operations extends with any certainty beyond the first contact with the main hostile force" (von Moltke). "A comedy routine is not finished until it has been performed in front of a crowd" (Dara O Briain). And a KM Implementation plan cannot be fully determined in advance - it needs to be adapted on contact with the organisation.

Implementing Knowledge Management is a change management process, and change is two way.

You are trying to effect a change in attitude and behaviour in your target population through implementing a Knowledge Management program, but at the same time, you must allow the target population to change your KM program in return. To paraphrase von Moltke, no KM implementation plan survives first contact with the organisation.

Does this mean that planning is a waste of time? No - far from it. 

Even if your plan needs to be adapted on contact with the organisation, you still need to do the following preparation work before implementation starts.

You need a Knowledge Management Strategy. The purpose of the strategy is to provide principles, priorities, scope and constraints to your Knowledge Management implementation. It is as much about defining what not to do as it is about defining what to do. It also defines the WHY of KM - why you are doing KM in the first place. The KM strategy also may change over tine, but nowhere near as fast as your Implementation Plan will change. 

You need a first-pass Knowledge Management Framework.  This defines the elements of KM which need to be tested and introduced - the roles, the processes, the technologies and the governance. You build this first-pass framework based on an  understanding of what already works well in the organisation in KM terms (most organisations are doing elements of KM already), plus an enlightened estimate of how to fill in the gaps and the missing elements, based on effective practice in similar organisations.

You need an initial Knowledge Management Implementation plan. Although this will need to be adapted, it gives you a place to start, and allows you to estimate your resources and timings. It is a beginning point. Even von Moltke started with a plan; even Dara o'Briain starts with an outline of a comedy routine.

Then what do you need, on order to be able to adapt as you go?

Firstly you need to start with a period of experimentation.  Much as a comedian will practice a new routine in the back rooms of pubs and in small comedy houses before going on a nationwide tour, so you need to begin implementation with some proof of concept exercises and some Knowledge Management Pilots, to see what works in your own organisational context.

Secondly you need to "learn while doing". As Knowledge Managers, you need to manage your own knowledge. You need to conduct After Action Reviews after stakeholder engagements, and Retrospects after KM pilots. You need to ask
  • What did we set out to achieve?
  • What did we actually achieve?
  • What were the root causes behind success and failure?
  • What have we learned about implementing Knowledge Management in our own organisation?
  • What do we need to either sustain or change going forward, in our KM plan, KM framework or even KM strategy?
By applying Knowledge Management principles to your own Knowledge Management implementation program, you can learn your way to Knowledge Management success.

Contact Knoco for help with your own KM implementation program. 

1 comment:

Jillian Bhambhani said...

Thank you for sharing this article. I am glad to have read it as the timing could not have been better 😊

We are in the process of piloting a demand survey in our organisation and this article is a reminder of things that are easily forgotten while on the KM path. I strongly believe that the survey will help us identify what we know, what we don't, and how to bridge the gaps.

Thank you once again. I look forward to reading more

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