Monday 30 September 2013

What can KM learn from supply chain management?

Distribution centre Last week I presented the lessons learned loop as a Knowledge Management supply chain,

If this is a reasonable analogy, then we should be able to look at the principles behind good supply chain management, and see if Knowledge Management can learn from them.

Principle number 1. Everyone involved must be committed to the (knowledge) supply chain. Supplier-user relationships must be good. The teams must be eager to share their lessons, the process owners must be eager to hear them, the users must be keen to get the new knowledge. The market for new knowledge will drive the supply chain.

Principle number 2. The (knowledge) supply chain must be reliable. We need to make sure lessons do not get lost somewhere along the way. People need to be convinced that if they share lessons, something will get done, and people need to be convinced that if they ask for knowledge, it incorporates the latest lessons. We will need validation along the chain, and we will need to check that lessons reach the right people, and that actions are taken and changes made as a result.

Principle number 3. The (knowledge) supply chain must be quality-controlled. Garbage in, garbage out. Poor quality parts, poor quality product. Let's aim for good lessons to feed good knowledge.

Principle number 4. The (knowledge) supply chain must be transparent, with visibility and metric, to give you oversight. We need to be sure the supply chain is working, so we need metrics on lessons volume, lessons distribution, knowledge assembly, knowledge re-use.

Principle number 5. The (knowledge) supply chain must add value. People need to be sure that when they share lessons and experiences, that this will make a change to business results.

Principle number 6. The (knowledge) supply chain must be efficient. The cycle time from experience to re-use needs to be as short as possible.

Principle 7. The (knowledge) supply chain must be lean. We need to aim for just-in-time knowledge. The user should not have to stockpile knowledge themselves, it should be provided by the supplier, as and when it's needed.

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