Friday 15 May 2015

Revenue stream, knowledge stream and timewriting

There is often  conflict between creating revenue and creating knowledge. Both of these require time, resources and incentives, and so are often in conflict. The problem is that knowledge is the source of future revenue. 

Any piece of revenue-generating work can create knowledge as well. In parallel with the revenue stream, we have a potential knowledge stream, both of which add value.

Knowledge is a by-product of what we do - we learn about the processes we use, the products we create and the customers we serve. That knowledge can be captured, shared, reapplied, and can help us perform better in future.

However the capturing and sharing takes time - time which could be spent generating further revenue now. We see this conflict particularly in fee-earning industries such as the legal sector or consulting sector, where people need to write their time to specific current projects and clients, thereby incentivising the revenue stream at the expense of the knowledge stream.  Any time spent on knowledge work is time that cannot be written to a client, and therefore time seen as "lost".  The firm makes more money in the short term, less in the long term.

There are a few ways around this, even where you have a timewriting system.

1. You can remove the timewriting system, and manage by objectives instead.

2. You can include Knowledge Management activity within timewriting (so documenting and sharing the lessons from a project can be timewritten to that project).

3. You can set the expectation for a minimum acceptable level of KM activity which has to take place outside the timewriting system

4. You can introduce a timewriting code specifically for KM activity, funded through a central pot of money

4. You can involve non-timewriting staff to do the bulk of the KM work, interviewing the senior staff to gain the knowledge, for example

5. You can use junior staff  to do the bulk of the KM work, treating this as a development activity.

My preferred option is number 5 - this not only creates the knowledge stream, but also brings the junior staff up the learning curve at an accelerated rate.

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