Monday 20 July 2020

Running the KM "supply chain" on lean principles

If we see KM as a supply chain, supplying knowledge to the knowledge worker in order that they can make the right business decision, then we can apply concepts such as lean to optimise that supply chain.

There are other ways to use lean principles to improve KM, such as the removal of waste from the KM supply chain.  Another approach is to ensure that every step is driven by Pull. Nothing moves along a step in the supply chain unless it is pulled by the need from the next step. This ensures that supply is always "just in time" and that there is no wasteful build-up of unwanted inventory.

Let's see how Pull can drive the steps in the Knowledge supply chain.

Knowledge transfer through conversation and discussion
Pull-based discussion includes online discussion driven by questions, and face to face discussion in Peer Assists. The questions of the knowledge workers are answered from the experience of their peers/

Knowledge documentation
Rather than wait for project teams and work groups to volunteer knowledge, the knowledge owners conduct interviews and hold facilitated retrospects to draw out their tacit knowledge. They focus particularly on knowledge of high importance to the organisation.

Synthesis of knowledge into a knowledge store or knowledge base
The knowledge owners and subject matter experts seek for new knowledge to incorporate into the knowledge base and to synthesise with existing knowledge. They may look in the community discussions and the lessons learned system for new knowledge, or may convene community meetings to discover and incorporate existing good practice. The knowledge base may well be constructed as FAQs - the most "pull-based" way of storing knowledge. 

Review of documented knowledge
The knowledge workers use search to access relevant documented knowledge, or use a system where knowledge is presented automatically at each stage in a work process.

Pull is an unusual way to look at the knowledge cycle, but it can significantly streamline your KM efforts.

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