Wednesday 4 November 2020

The organisation after the KM makeover

What does an organisation look like, when it is fully engaged with Knowledge Management? What will the After shot of the KM make-over look like?

House Makeover, from wikimedia commons
Introducing KM is an organisational makeover. The "After" shot will not resemble the "Before" shot.

If KM is to be embedded into an organisation, it needs to be embedded into the organisational structure.  The KM organisation is not just a case of
  1. The KM team
  2. Everyone else
If KM is to be embedded in the business, then it needs to be part of the organigram. KM roles and accountabilities will be needed. These are probably not new hires or additional staff, they are people taking roles related to knowledge. In some cases they may even have played these roles before, but in their spare time, or without support, or without knowledge of what the role entailed.

Let's look at some examples of the "After" picture of the organigram.

For example, at Tata Steel (widely recognised as one of the leading KM companies in the world), the KM team supports a KM organisation of
  • 500 SMEs identified by the communities who validate the accuracy and reliability of all the good practices being submitted;
  • 25 champions for the various communities;
  • 250 practice leaders, who lead the sub-communities;
  • 250 conveners who help manage the communities and sub-communities;
  • 200 experts who help others over the discussion databases to resolve problems;
  • 50 KM coordinators; and,
  • 1000+ part-time evangelists. (Figures from 2009)
Or think about the US Army, with
  • A full-time Centre for Army Lessons Learned
  • An owner for every Doctrine
  • Lessons Learned Integrators in every battalion, as well as the training centres
  • Combined Arms centre staff who run the Battle Command Knowledge Centre
  • Facilitators and core teams for the Communities such as, etc
  • Hundreds of trained AAR leaders
  • etc
Or Wipro, with
  • Full time functional team of 32 in Wipro Technologies (45 in consolidated Global IT Business).
  • More than 400 part time KM Primes/Champions across various groups - typically committing 10-15% of their time to KM activities for the group.
  • Full time team of 15-20 to support and enhance the IS platform for KM.
For an extreme example, see McKinsey Knowledge Professionals and Knowledge Centres. McKinsey has a very large number of knowledge professionals, because they realise their entire business is about knowledge. Other organisations will have a smaller percentage of its organisation with an accountability for knowledge, but that percentage cannot be zero. 

So one question every organisation needs to think about, when implementing KM, is "What will our organisation look like afterwards".  You will almost certainly need
  • KM roles in the operational units and projects, to facilitate the processes and act as champions
  • KM roles within the communities of practice, including community sponsors, leaders, core teams, facilitators
  • Subject matter experts to look after the codified knowledge base
  • People to support the KM technology infrastructure
  • People to manage the lessons learned system(s)

You will need a Knowledge Management organisation.  Increasingly, organisational design such as this is becoming a part of our consulting offering, as companies take the KM Make-over.

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