Friday 6 September 2013

Communicating Knowledge Management, the 151 rule

speakers' corner cowboy
Are you tired of repeating the same old Knowledge Management message?

According to an interesting article from Ramon Barquin and Chris Coleman, you may just have to keep on repeating - 151 times!

Their central message is not only that you need a simple, understandable message (see my tips for the KM salesman) , but that you also need constant repetition. Here's some excerpts.

A memo from the CEO isn’t enough to build support for knowledge management. Constant repetition from a variety of sources, both spontaneous and carefully strategized – meetings, memos, word of mouth – is the only way to do it, and this brings us to the Rule of 151.

Scientific? Maybe not, but the Rule of 151 goes something like this. The first 50 times you talk about the business advantages of (KM), nobody seems to hear you. The second 50 times you explain it, they don’t understand. And the third 50 times, they just don’t believe it.

Persist beyond this point, however, and you see progress. Colleagues, peers and bosses hear what you’re saying. They understand it, and more importantly, they repeat it. Fueled by word-of-mouth, even the most offbeat notions can evolve into conventional wisdom. Marketers call it branding, politicians call it campaigning, cynics call it brainwashing. Call it whatever you like: repetition works.

And a really useful summary paragraph at the end
Shortly after Michael McCurry, Clinton administration press secretary, left the White House, a writer for the Harvard Business Review asked what McCurry says when people ask him how to become better communicators. “Know what you’re trying to say and say it precisely and simply,” McCurry answered. “And be committed to telling the story over and over again. You have to persevere.”

So, persevere! Communicate! Keep sowing the seed on the stony ground, until one day, after 151 sowings, it takes root.


Karthik said...

I don't get it Nick. I feel this rule should be validated. Do you have any such proofs? I feel no rule is needed, except that one needs to keep all senses open to look for opportunities to help people in managing knowledge.

Please correct me if i am wrong. Thanks for sharing.

Nick Milton said...

If you read the referenced article, this 151 rule is not a rule, nor is it based on proof. It is a metaphorical way of saying that you need massive repetition of your message if it is to be understood if you are to achieve first awareness, then understanding, then acceptance.

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