Wednesday 15 June 2016

Sometimes a knowledge manager needs to take a risk

Sometimes playing it safe in Knowledge Management is a dangerous approach. Sometimes we need to be bold.

Danger de mort Jon Harman is the head of Knowledge Management at Syngenta Crop Protection. I know him quite well, and admire the work has has been doing. In 2010 Jon had been in post for many years, making steady though slow progress. Then, in 2011, he had a breakthrough - he had the most productive year in KM that he has ever had.

The reason? He had lost his job.

Or perhaps to be more exact, he was under notice that his KM post was closing.

For Jon, this was liberating. Released from the fear that he might lose his job (because he knew the axe had already fell),  Jon decided to live dangerously. Instead of waiting for permission, he acted. Instead of working through is boss, he went direct to the CEO. Things started to happen, the CEO liked what he saw, and the KM train started to accelerate. Not only that, but Jon was offered another KM post within Syngenta.

So what's the lesson?

If you are going to make Knowledge Management work, you have to be bold. You have to live dangerously, because (as I said in the post "KM, simple but not easy"), "it needs courage and it needs dedication and it needs perseverence and a thick skin, and it needs you to work at some very difficult conversations".

Jon learned the lesson through the risk of losing his job. If you learn the lesson, rather than making your job more risky, it may actually make your job safer.

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