Monday, 13 April 2015

Balancing short term and long term in KM

The short-term/long-term balance is critical in KM. The business of KM is long term culture and behaviour change, but the company will have no patience for the long term, if you do not deliver benefits in the short term. 

The balance between short term and long term is tied to the balance between Push and Pull (where Push is the publication of knowledge, or knowledge sharing, while Pull is seeking for knowledge).

Many companies seem to start instinctively with Push. "Let's share our Best Practices" they think. "Let's find what we are doing well, and then look for opportunities to replicate this elsewhere in the company". Knowledge push is "a solution looking for a problem".

Seductive though this idea is, it is a long-term game and won't deliver the quick wins,.

Let's imagine you capture some best practices on mergers, or on outsourcing, or on implementing ISO. It may be a long time before another merger, or another outsourcing, or another ISO implementation. Maybe nobody is ready to adopt these Best Practices right now. The gains will come at some point in the future, when the next merger or the next acquisition or next ISO implementation is on the cards.

Pull, on the other had, delivers quick wins. Knowledge Pull is "a problem seeking a solution".
Start with a problem, and seek for the knowledge to solve the problem.

Take, for example, Peer Assist; a meeting held by a project team with a problem, who are seeking knowledge from others to solve the problem. The knowledge shared through the Peer Assist will find an instant application and a willing audience. There should be little or no "Not Invented Here".

Knowledge Pull delivers the short term wins, Knowledge Push delivers the longer term.

Some time in the future, there WILL be another merger, or another outsourcing, or another ISO implementation, and then the knowledge will come in really handy. And then later there may be another another merger, outsourcing, ISO implementation. Then another. Push reaps benefits over the long term. Capture knowledge once, re-use it twenty times. Pull reaps instant benefit, but maybe only once. It solves an instant problem, but leaves no trace.

Any well-balanced KM strategy requires Push and Pull, but don't count on Push for quick wins, or Pull for long term benefit.

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