Monday, 10 July 2017

More common objections to KM, and how to answer them

Here are 5 of the common push-backs to KM you will hear from management. Be ready to answer them.

I blogged a couple of weeks ago about one of the most common objections to KM you will hear, which I called the four most dangerous words; "KM won't work here because our organisation is different"

However this is not the only push-back you will receive. Here are 5 more.

"We do this already"
"We already have a training program", "All of this is covered by staff induction", "We have a library that takes care of this", "we have SharePoint". These are the objections of someone who wasn't listening when you explained that Knowledge Management is a framework, not a single tool. You need to explain again how Knowledge Management is a framework of people, processes, technology and governance. It's not training (because KM deals with organisational learning, not individual learning), it's not staff induction (because learning is for all staff, not new staff, and knowledge is needed to make effective decisions at all levels), it's not a library (because KM is as much about Connection as Collection, and as much about Tacit as it is about Explicit), and it isn't SharePoint (though SharePoint can play a role).

"We tried Knowledge Management. It didn't work"
This is a common objection in a company that has already attempted KM, and its a valid objection. Why try again? What's different this time?. You need to firstly understand why it failed last time (usually because it wasn't introduced as a change program, or it was led by a single technology tool, or one of the other top 7 reasons for KM failure), and then you need to be able to explain that you have learned from the failure, that you have learned from successful implementations in other companies, and that it will be different this time.

"It will take too long. We need quick fixes now".
We know that implementing Knowledge Management is a long term affair, and we also know that most organisations are prone to short-termism (and quite right in many cases; if you dont get the short term right, there may be no long term). However there need be no conflict. One way to get to the long term change is through a series of quick fixes, implementing knowledge management, as Mars did, one business issue at a time.

"Our people are too busy for this. It will take too much time"
Too busy to learn, but not too busy to reinvent wheels, rework solutions, and revisit old problems? You need to have enough data to show that KM is a time-saver, that it cuts project times by up to 16%, that it removes waste, and that it's the busy person's way to work. As one of my colleagues said "You work surrounded by the knowledge of others, why on earth would you not use it? It will save money and time, it will make your life easier, and you will do a better job". Basically, if people are so busy, then that is an argument FOR KM and not against.

"It's simple - lets just do it".
This isn't really an objection, it's more of a misunderstanding. Sure, KM is simple, but it's not easy, Getting people to change the way they prioritise things, and to move from seeing Knowledge as a personal property to seeing it as collective property, requires a significant culture shift, and culture change is never easy. So you need to recognise the enthusiasm of this person, and then explain why you can't just "tell people" to do KM - it requires a hearts-and-minds change.

Recognise these objections, and prepare your rebuttal. If you do it well, then hopefully you will get the verdict - Objection Overruled

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