Monday 13 June 2011

8 steps to KM culture change

You can't change the culture all at once.

We most of us realise that introducing Knowledge Management is a culture change process, and we generally also realise that culture change is not something that happens all at once. We know that culture is changed one heart and one mind at a time, but we also need to realise that each individual heart and mind does not change all at once either.

There are a number of steps to successful KM culture change, and it is worth understanding these, as you cannot move an individual or a team more than two or three steps in any one interaction.

The steps are these
  1. First Contact - the first time that the individual or team hears the term "knowledge management"
  2. Awareness - the individual or team becomes aware of knowledge management as something that may be an issue in the organisation
  3. Understanding - the individual or team understands what knowledge management means (in basic terms)
  4. Acceptance - the individual or team accepts that there may be value in knowledge management, either a WIIFM for themselves, or a value proposition for the company
  5. Trial - the individual or team agrees to try knowledge management. This leads to the first commitment threshold - the commitment to act
  6. Adoption - assuming the trial has gone well and delivered more value than it cost, this is when the individual or team agrees to adopt knowledge management processes or technologies
  7. Embedding into work process - this is where the individual, team and eventually company embeds knowledge management into work process
  8. Embedding into culture - this is where the individual, team and eventually company Internalises knowledge management  as "something we just do." At this stage it becomes a core value.
You can see there are a lot of steps, and it is easy to neglect them. Many KM programs never go beyond the trial stage, or perhaps they adopt KM but never embed it, at which stage it can easily become unadopted again - re-orphaned. It is only when you get to step 7 that KM is relatively safe, and even then you want to take care of the final step, the Internalisation step, so that the culture becomes pervasive and unconscious.



Jack Vinson said...

This is very similar to the process model in The New Edfe in Knowledge by APQC's Carla O'Dell. She has a few different words and groups some of the steps, by the concepts seem quite similar. That probably says that you are both onto somethimg.

Nick Milton said...

Either that, Jack, or we are both using an older model. This one came from Amoco in the 90s, if I remember correctly, so Carla may have got it from there, or from its use in BP

Alice MacGillivray said...

As I recall, I first saw the APQC model in the late 90s or perhaps 2000. My memory (may not be accurate) was that it was being rolled out at that time, or perhaps it was "new and improved."

Nick Milton said...

Just for clarity, I am not sure whether you are referring to the APQC maturity model?

What I describe here is not a maturity model such as the APQC model, it is a template for engaging an individual stakeholder, representing the steps you will need to take her or him through before he or she accepts KM and commits to trying it.

I am not a fan of maturity models for an enterprise (see my post on the danger of maturity models

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