Friday, 4 November 2016

How to track the changes in KM

If learning is to be effective it must lead to change and improvement, and if we are to justify our jobs as knowledge, we should be able to show that these improvements are a result of the knowledge management initiative.


But what sort of things will change as a result of KM?

The memory of an organisation lies partly with its people, and partly in its procedures, as well as is its structures and other ways of working.  The way in which an organisation works should ideally represent the way it has learned to work, through experience.  If knowledge management is going to help an organisation work better, then we should see the processes and procedures changing and continuously improving. And if we are going to be able tp demonstrate the value and power of KM, we need to be able to track those changes.

Here are three examples of how this is done.

In one organisation, new knowledge and new lessons are captured on a routine basis through after action reviews, which analyse what has been learned and what needs to change as a result.  Each lesson has an associated action, and each action is usually for a expert or process owner  to update a procedure or a process.  The route from observation to lesson to action to update is documented and tracked and reported.  For example, on a quarterly basis the administrator of the system reports how many processes have been updated as a result of new lessons.

In another organisation, the processes are kept on a Wiki, which is owned and managed by the leader of the relevant community of practice. All  new lessons, all new observations, all new conversations within the community forum are forwarded to the community leader.  He updates the community Wiki based on this new knowledge, and of course with any Wiki the changes are tracked.  Community members are notified of any new knowledge in the Wiki, and the sources of the changes are listed at the bottom of the wikipage, like references in Wikipedia.

In each case the organisation is not only using its new knowledge to make changes to the way it works, but is also doing this in a systematic and tracked way.

3 comments:

Myles Burke said...

The enemy of Wikis is time! The more time passes the larger the Wiki becomes and then you have to ask how far back people will go to search for previous answers to their question...weeks...months...years. Plus the Wiki owner will inevitably move on and who will replace that person, and will the new owner recognise there are valuable learnings in the Wiki's history, or just move forward. My experience of Wikis is that as time passes the information becomes dated, the people who monitor it move on and very soon (3-4 years) you are left with a huge collection of out-of-date information and nobody wants to update it and eventually nobody will use it.

Herman Limburg said...

@Myles, I agree if you do not have content validation workflows in place. But if you have your content validation in place, you can focus the maintenance primarily on the peer reviewed and expert approved wiki articles and focus secondarily on the user contributed articles. Good (mandatory) tagging is crucial to conduct a periodic revision of your wiki.

Herman Limburg said...

@Myles, I agree if you do not have content validation workflows in place. But if you have your content validation in place, you can focus the maintenance primarily on the peer reviewed and expert approved wiki articles and focus secondarily on the user contributed articles. Good (mandatory) tagging is crucial to conduct a periodic revision of your wiki.

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