Sometimes the simplest KM tools add the most benefit.
After Action Reviews being used by a negotiation team as part of a bare-bones KM framework. The source has to remain anonymous, but what’s great about this example is that the application of KM was totally business-led, and the simplest tool gave the greatest benefit. The story is written by the team knowledge manager
“For the first 5 months of this year I co-ordinated a real-life, application of KM in Country X. The situation was one of intensive commercial negotiations, on multiple fronts across senior levels. Negotiations are difficult being the first deal of this type and size for the country. Things were tough and decisions difficult to achieve despite daily contact with a large team with many different players meeting many different people.
"The stand-off and complexity, led to a reasonably forthcoming environment for KM in the team, and almost a desire to try anything, including Knowledge Management. However, the main KM tool that achieved instant buy-in was the After Action Review process, which we applied rigorously to all external interactions.
"Key success factors
• Heavy facilitation in the early days
• Keep it short (around 15 minutes)
• Do not let it substitute the minutes of the meeting
• Output less than one page, big font, based on proforma, 3 or 4 points per question
• Ensure everyone gets the opportunity to speak, best run and owned by one of the team, not the team leader ... who should always add his views last
• Concentrate on How and Why, not What
What it gave us in return
• Effective fast, broad communication throughout the team of what happened and what was learnt at each meeting
• Lateral communication across all teams and into management, within 24 hours of each interaction occurring
• Consolidated weekly summary of all AAR's, linked together into the bigger picture, and pushing all lessons that can be learnt laterally across the organisation ... prepared by me in my KM role”
A few things to note;
- KM was introduced as a solution to a business problem, and it was a knowledge based problem - they did not know the best way to negotiate, they did not even know what was going on at times.
- The KM solution was very simple, and tailored to the working style and culture
- Facilitation was heavy in the early days
- KM was kept distinctive, not just "another way to write minutes"
- Knowledge turnaround was very rapid - everyone know the learning from each interaction within 24 hours
- The KM solution was coordinated. There was a KM role; coordinating, consolidating, pushing knowledge laterally