Wednesday, 24 February 2016

How KM changes culture

Implementing KM requires culture change, but KM itself changes the culture.

There is always a lot of energy around the topic of KM and culture change. Everyone accepts that culture will help or hinder KM implementation, and that there are supportive cultures and hindering cultures.

What we also need to remember, is that Knowledge Management practices are themselves agents of culture change.

  • The After Action review was first introduced by the US Army after Vietnam as a culture change process, and they found that learning was a major by-product. I also have an excellent video from the Process Manager at Jwaneng diamond mine, where he describes the business value, then lights up completely as he talks about the culture change that came with the business prize.

  • Peer Assist is an excellent culture change process, making connections across the organisation, promoting learning from others, and breaking down cultural silos. Introducing Peer Assist is like planting the seed of a collaborative culture.

  • Communities of practice also are a new cultural phenomenon. I am sure you have seen the Rio Tinto video, where the manager describes communities as "a significant shift in the culture of the organisation" (at about 4m 10s)

  • Retrospects (provided action is taken based on the lessons) are also a harbinger of a new culture - a culture of reflection and self analysis. (If no action is taken, this reinfirces the feelings of "this is a waste of time" and "nobody ever listens to us").
So even if your culture is anti-KM, dont wait for the culture to change before you start KM.

Start KM, and the culture will change!

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