Wednesday 25 January 2017

How to use external communications to market KM internally

Your KM communication plan should include external communication, primarily as a way to market internally.

Image from wikimedia commons
Knowledge Management implementation requires a communication strategy and plan, to help the stakeholders climb the ladder of engagement. One particularly useful strategy is to communicate your KM successes to the outside world, so that the messages can trickle back in.

Often you will have to deal with many cynics on the organisation, who like to treat KM as a fad, a  piece of nonsense, something they can ignore and it will go away. However once these people start to hear messages coming in from the outside, such as "Hey, I hear you guys are really good at Knowledge Management!", this begins to create cognitive dissonance.

Cognitive dissonance is the observation (based on the work of festinger in the 1950s) that we hold many "cognitions" (views or opinions) about the world and ourselves; when they clash, a discrepancy is evoked, resulting in a state of tension known as cognitive dissonance. As the experience of dissonance is unpleasant, we are motivated to reduce or eliminate it, and achieve consonance.

Sometimes people reduce the tension of dissonance by explaining away the unpleasant "new truths". Sometimes they alter their views to adapt to the new truths.

So our cynic thinks "Hang on, I know KM is just a fad, but here is somone saying we are admired for it. What's going on?"  And he or she may start to shift their perception. "Perhaps KM is a useful fad? Perhaps OUR brand of KM is less faddish?".  At the very least, you are setting up a tension of beliefs, and at the best, the cynics mind may begin to shift.

Here's a quote from a Knowledge Manager who has used this technique.

 "As a company, we tend to learn more from people outside the company than from inside so we were deliberately trying to create an external reputation for KM that would come back into our company"

Once you have your first few Knowledge Management successes, start to broadcast them externally; not so much to build up your own reputation, but to create stories which will filter back into your organisation and help you with your change program.

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