There is a lot written about KM culture and how to implement it, but most organisations already know how to build and sustain a culture.
Introducing a Knowledge Management culture is not easy and many people are looking for the secret of how to do this, but my view is quite straightforward. You foster a KM culture in just the same way as you foster any of the other cultures you already have in your organisation.
Knowledge Management isn't anything really special or unique; it's one of a number of management disciplines, and it's the one focused on knowledge and organisational learning. Almost certainly you have already introduced, and continue to maintain, a series of cultures related to other disciplines. You might already have, for example, one of the following:
- a Quality culture
- a customer-focused culture
- a Safety culture
- a culture of Equality and Diversity
- a Creativity culture
- a culture of financial responsibility.
One of the tenets of Knowledge Management is that we should learn as much as possible from others. If we are to practice what we preach, then we should learn how these other cultures have been built and sustained. They are your sources of knowledge, and what works for them, is likely to work for for the knowledge management culture as well..
So if you are interested in fostering a knowledge culture, then look at what culture your organisation is already successfully fostering, and look at how that is done. Try the following approaches:
- Find the people who were involved in introducing these cultures, and interview them to find out their lessons: what they did what was successful, and what they would have done differently with hindsight;
- Find the people who are responsible for these cultures, and set up a peer assist so they can share their knowledge with you;
- Talk to the staff within the organisation and find out why they comply with the culture. What are the things that influence their behaviour?
Look at how the existing cultures are expressed, look at the messages given from leadership, look at how the culture is rewarded and reinforced and communicated, look at how it is embedded into processes and roles.
Then do the same for knowledge management.