Monday 8 June 2015

Who steers your KM strategy?

A knowledge management strategy is not set in stone. It is not a fixed, immutable 5-year roadmap - it needs to change as the business landscape change. But who should steer these changes?

We often argue for the appointment of a steering team for any KM implementation.  This is an active team of diverse senior leaders from within the main business units and functions, who help direct the KM implement effort by providing guidance, advice and challenge.

A successful steering team is powerful in terms of composition (titles, expertise, reputations, relationships, leadership skills, access to support and resources), their mutual level of trust and their shared objectives. KM will usually need such a team to drive the change and steer the program, particularly in large and complex organizations.

The steering team will also ensure that the business is fully represented in the planning and decision making within the KM implementation. Committee members should represent the main functions (IT, HR, Quality etc) and the main lines of business (Marketing, Sales, Production, etc) in order to represent all the primary stakeholders.

They are not a decision making board, but an advisory board to the sponsor and so to the KM leader. They give decision making authority in the sense that decisions will be well informed, relevant to the business, and likely to garner support.

The steering team members do not have to be KM converts. In fact, it is probably useful if some of them have some level of scepticism; to add a level of real business challenge to the program, and to ensure that objections are met and resolved early on.

 The steering team can also act as ambassadors for the KM program in their own part of the business. The head of IT, for example, can ensure that the needs of the KM program are honoured by the IT department, the head of HR can help ensure KM expectations are included in the annual appraisal system, and the Head of Operations can help identify and facilitate KM pilots in the operational departments.

The steering team should meet on a regular basis; for example quarterly, chaired by the KM sponsor, in order to support the sponsor’s review of the progress and performance of the KM program, and to advise on next steps.

Through the use of such a mechanism, the KM program can use the wisdom of the business to steer KM through any strategic changes, and ensure it delivers maximum value for the business. 

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