Tuesday 4 July 2017

The Knowledge Batphone - a role for KM?

One of the temporary roles a KM team can take on is to be an organisation helpdesk, manning the Batphone.

Imagine you are starting a KM project. You are extolling the virtues of KM, and the benefits of seeking and reusing knowledge as a way of saving time and delivering a better result. Yet your KM system is still not in place.

You have no communities of practice, or the ones you have are in the very early stages of maturity. People are still using your social media for tweets about what they are doing, rather than for knowledge seeking.  You have no structured knowledge assets, and knowledge is mostly scattered through various disparate repositories. You haven't started with curation of knowledge resources, and are a long way from synthesis of best practice. Your search engine is still struggling, and pulling up duplicate, outdated or irrelevant results.  Your lessons learned are still (if you are lucky) in a massive database or file folder, or (if you are unlucky) in the back pages of project reports.

In short, your knowledge is still in a mess. How then can you satisfy and support a demand for knowledge?

One thing you can do is set up a helpdesk service, or (as one of the KMUK delegates called it) the Batphone.

People who need knowledge call the Batphone, and the KM team does the searching for them.  This is an investment of the KM team resource, but the KM team should by now have a good idea of what knowledge resources are out there, and should be well trained in use of the search engine. They should be super-searchers, and be able to deliver a good answer more quickly than the operational staff can themselves.

The benefits of the knowledge batphone are these:
  • It provides access to knowledge while the KM framework is being built;
  • It allows the KM team to start to create success stories, by calling the person back and asking "how useful was that knowledge to you?
  • It allows the KM team to understand the sort of knowledge which people are looking for, and therefore to prioritise the KM program to cover high-demand knowledge;
  • It allows the KM team to begin to create FAQs which can for the foundation for knowledge bases on critical topics.
So what do you do with the Knowledge Batphone in the longer term?

You can either retire the Batphone once the Communities of Practice have taken on the roles of knowledge custodians, and are able to provide better knowledge than the KM team can, or you extend the role of the Batphone into a Knowledge Centre, such as those used by the big consulting firms.

Howver in the short term, you may find The Batphone is a great first step in providing access to knowledge. 

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