Friday 26 October 2018

5 first steps to KM success

Here are the first 5 steps in a successful KM journey

Buffalo, NY
Buffalo, NY by JasonParis, on Flickr
At Knoco, we have seen enough Knowledge Management implementation programs by now  to know that there a few key steps every organisation needs to take in the beginning. These steps are as follows;
  1. Assess the current state
  2. Build a business-led strategy
  3. Develop a draft KM framework
  4. Create an implementation plan
  5. Deliver some early pilots
Here is some more detail around each of these five steps (and if you need even more detail, read my book "Designing a Successful KM Strategy").

Assess the current state. Before you can plan any future KM development, you need to know where you are right now. Knowledge Management is common sense, even it if is not common practice, and most organisations are already doing some elements of KM under different names. Those elements may not yet be effective, and they may not yet be joined up, but you need to know what's working, what's present but not working, and what's missing. We see three types of assessment;

When you are conducting an assessment, make sure you talk to stakeholders at all levels. As my friend Lisandro Gaertner pointed out to me "listen to a lot of people's stories about how they share knowledge and what are the outcomes they get. Sometimes people use cold (but apparently logical) assessment tools, interview mostly the wrong people (middle management and up) and get a fake glimpse about the KM culture. I don't have to say to you that it is the recipe to failure".

Build a business-led strategy. Time and again, experience has shown that the most successful knowledge management initiatives are those which are business-led, and which solve business problems. Your KM strategy needs to be closely aligned to the business strategy, to focus on the critical knowledge needed by the business, and to deliver practical ways of managing that knowledge better. Elements of the strategy include
  • Vision 
  • Scope 
  • Business drivers 
  • Value proposition 
  • Critical knowledge areas 
  • Change and stakeholder management 
  • Potential business-led Pilot areas
Sometimes the strategy can be driven by one overriding business need, such as the risk of Knowledge loss, and in this case a Knowledge Retention Strategy may be needed.

This blog contains plenty of guidance on getting your KM strategy correct.

Develop a draft Knowledge Management Framework. As Knowledge Management has evolved over the last two decades, the need for an integrated Knowledge Management framework has become apparent. With a Management Framework, KM can take on the aspects of other management systems, and be made part of normal business, rather than relying on a disparate set of tools.

A Knowledge Management Framework ensures that all necessary KM elements (Accountabilities, Processes, Technologies and Governance) are in place, and interconnected. This ensures that there are no gaps in the system, and that knowledge flows freely through the organisation.

Your Assessment (Step 1) should have been planned with a Framework in mind, and will have identified the gaps which need to be filled.  we are calling this a "draft framework" at the moment, as the framework will not be finalised until after piloting.

This blog contains plenty of guidance on building an effective Knowledge Management Framework.

Build an implementation plan. Implementing Knowledge Management is not easy. You really only have one attempt, and if this fails, you may find that the concept has become irrecoverably tarnished. An excellent Implementation Plan is needed, based on lessons from successful (and less successful) implementations in other companies, and tailored to your own context.

The plan will be based on
  • the results of assessment and benchmarking 
  • the Knowledge Management strategy 
  • the draft Knowledge Management framework
  • the potential pilot areas, and
  • a staged, change management approach.
This blog contains plenty of guidance on Knowledge management implementation.

Start some business-led proof of concept pilots. A key component of your knowledge management strategy involves running some pilot projects. A pilot project is a project where knowledge management can be applied within the business, to solve a specific and important business problem, to deliver measurable results (and therefore prove the value), and also to act as a proving ground for Knowledge Management within the business.

Choosing the right pilots can be a massive springboard for your eventual KM implementation. A spectacular success early in the journey can give you some real momentum.

This blog contains plenty of guidance on Knowledge management pilots.

There are plenty of ways to get Knowledge Management wrong, and a few principles you need to follow to get Knowledge Management right.

Follow the five steps listed here and, with advice and guidance from a good experienced consultancy, your road to Knowledge Management success is clear.

Contact Knoco if you need more help.

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