Following on my post last week about managers being knowledge workers; here is a reprise of a post from 5 years ago which rings just as true today.
It takes the form of a letter from the Knowledge Management team to the senior managers of the organisation.
Dear Senior Managers
Over the past year, our pilot projects in Knowledge Management have shown that there is huge value to be delivered to the organisation through introducing a systematic managed approach to knowledge. The ROI of these pilots has been in the order of 10-fold, and we believe this can be scaled up to corporate level.
We, the KM team, commit to delivering this value to you, but we need something in return.
Here are our requests for you
1. We need you to steer our program. Help us to understand what knowledge is strategic to the organisation, so that KM activities can fully support your own strategic agenda. Lets work together to make KM a core supporter of the business strategy.
2. We need your endorsement. We need you to be talking about the importance of knowledge. We need you to be asking the questions "Who have you learned from?" and "Who will you share this with?" Eventually we will be asking you to set clear expectations for KM in the organisation in teh form of a Knowledge Management Policy.
3. We need your example. As someone once said, "I cannot hear what you say, for the thunder of what you do", so you need to be acting, as well as talking. Get involved in KM. Hold your own learning reviews. Capture and share and build knowledge at senior management level.
4. We need you to reward and recognise wisely. KM requires a change in culture, and people will be very alert to how you recognise behaviours. If you reward and recognise the wrong things, such as internal competition, or the lone hero who "doesn't need to learn", or the knowledge hoarders who keep it all "in their heads", then our good work of culture change will be in vain. Recognise instead those who learn before doing, those who share hard-won lessons, and those who show bravery in admitting to mistakes from which others can learn.
5. We need you to be consistent in how you follow up expectations. The company will watch how you deal with the project that doesn't hold a learning review, or the expert who neglects their community. If you let them get away with bad KM behaviours, you have sent a strong message to the organisation; that you can refuse to be involved in KM, and nobody will make a fuss.
6. Finally, we need you to challenge us. We know the value of KM, and you need to challenge us to use it to make a real step-change in business deliverables.
Together, we can make a real difference through knowledge management.
the KM team