Thursday 7 January 2010

quick wins, long term benefit

Where do you start with KM? Where do you put in your efforts? Especially if you want to demonstrate quick wins? Do you start with Push, or with Pull?

Many companies seem to start instinctively with Push. "Let's share our Best Practices" they think. "Let's find what we are doing well, and then look for opportunities to replicate this elsewhere in the company". Seductive though this idea is, it won't deliver the quick wins. Let's imagine they capture some best practices on mergers, or on outsourcing, or on implementing ISO. It may be a long time before another merger, or another outsourcing, or another ISO implementation. Maybe nobody is ready to adopt these Best Practices right now. And even if they are, there is the Not Invented Here barrier to deal with. Maybe nobody is interested. There's many a failure story from "all push and no pull"

My recommendation is always to start with Pull, if you want the quick wins. Start with a problem, and share knowledge to solve the problem. Start with something where someone IS interested. Start with Peer Assist ("the killer app in KM"). The knowledge shared through the Peer Assist will find an instant application and a willing audience. There should be little or no "Not Invented Here".

But don't forget about Push. Don't forget about the Retrospects and the Knowledge Assets. Some time in the future, there WILL be another merger, or another outsourcing, or another ISO implementation, and then the knowledge will come in really handy. And then later there may be another another merger, outsourcing, ISO implementation. Then another.

Push reaps benefits over the long term. Capture knowledge once, re-use it twenty times. Pull reaps instant benefit, but maybe only once. It solves an instant problem, but leaves no trace.

Any well-balanced KM strategy requires Push and Pull, but don't count on Push for quick wins, or Pull for long term benefit.

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