Monday, 26 October 2020

4 roles for the KM team

I presented this Boston Square last week to talk about 4 styles of knowledge transfer. Here's how the KM team can help with each. 



The Boston Square looks at four modes of knowledge transfer within KM, differentiated by Push and Pull, and Documented/Undocumented knowledge.  Any balanced KM program will address all four, more or less equally. Any KM program that focuses only on one or two quadrants in unbalanced.

Here is how the KM team can ensure balance.

The Explicit Push quadrant, labelled Share, is where an organisation focuses on collecting and publishing codified or documented knowledge, thus creating knowledge collections. It is the "Collect" route described here. The KM team can help ensure collection of documented knowledge by:
  • Training people in how to collect and document knowledge:
  • Ensuring each project understands what knowledge products it should document:
  • Embedding into the workstream knowledge-collection processes such as lesson learning;
  • Providing facilitation for these processes, or training facilitators;
  • Providing technology where knowledge can be collected, which is outside "project space" and visible to other projects or to the organisation as a whole (ie technology for the "knowledge workstream");
  • Measuring whether the required knowledge products are being created, to the right standard;
  • Promoting a culture of openness and honesty, and discouraging secrecy and knowledge hoarding.

The Explicit Pull quadrant, labelled Search, is where an organisation focuses on facilitating searching for documented knowledge. The KM team can help by;

  • Ensuring the organisation has an enterprise search engine;
  • Ensure there is someone in the organisation responsible for maintaining and tuning the search engine;
  • Ensuring that there are roles in place for maintaining, curating and synthesising the stores of collected knowledge;
  • Ensuring the knowledge stores are browsable as well as searchable;
  • Ensuring there is a taxonomy and metadata system in use;
  • Embedding into the workstream  processes that encourage and promote searching, such as knowledge gap analysis;
  • Providing facilitation for these processes, or training facilitators;
  • Measuring search, eg search queries, and the number of document downloads;
  • Measuring whether the use of sought knowledge is aiding the business, and by how much;
  • Promoting a culture of curiosity and Learner behaviours, and discouraging not-invented-here, "too busy to learn" and other Knower behaviours.

The Tacit Push quadrant, labelled Tell, is where an organisation focuses on storytelling and knowledge exchange.  The KM team can help by;
  • Ensuring people and projects understand what knowledge they should talk about:
  • Embedding into the workstream knowledge-presentation processes such as knowledge handover, knowledge exchange, knowledge café etc;
  • Providing facilitation for these processes, or training facilitators;
  • Providing blogging platforms for individuals and/or projects and communities of practice;
  • Measuring whether the required knowledge presentations and discussions are happening;
  • Measuring whether they are aiding the business, and by how much;
  • Promoting a culture of openness and honesty, and discouraging secrecy and knowledge hoarding.

The Tacit Pull quadrant, labelled Ask, is where an organisation focuses on creating and satisfying a demand for knowledge. This is the "Connect" route described here. The KM team can help by;
  • Ensuring people and projects have channels and mechanisms to ask questions;
  • Ensuring, where appropriate, that communities of practice are set up for the main knowledge topics;
  • Providing Q&A forums for communities of practice;
  • Providing a "knowledge index"/"yellow pages"/"Expertise locator" system if appropriate;
  • Embedding processes like Peer Assist into the workstream;
  • Introducing knowledge discussion processes such as knowledge handoverknowledge exchange, knowledge café etc;
  • Providing facilitation for these processes, or training facilitators;
  • Measuring whether the required  discussions are happening;
  • Measuring whether they are aiding the business, and by how much;
  • Promoting a culture of curiosity and Learner behaviours, and discouraging not-invented-here, "too busy to learn" and other Knower behaviours.

Everyone will have their preferred quadrant in which they feel most comfortable, but the key for any KM program is that you need to address all four elements, as different knowledge needs to be transferred in different ways, and to focus on only one quadrant of the diagram is to miss 75% of the possibilities KM can deliver.

Use this lists here to check how balanced your KM program is.

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