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Friday, February 10, 2006

RESOURCES: Linking KM with other organizational functions

A new report has been released by the British Standards Institution. "Linking Knowledge Management with other Organizational Functions and Disciplines: A Guide to Good Practice," was put together by a team of KM experts from the Knowledge and Innovation Network, which is associated with UK’s Warwick University.

The authors assert that "one of the main reasons that many KM projects have failed is precisely because they did not make a strong linkage with other functions and management trends and therefore did not engage the ‘hearts and minds’ of all key stakeholders." The key to making these linkages, according to the report’s Executive Summary, is to make those linkages according to the organization’s particular overall strategy, and not rely on "one or two champions or enthusiasts" to make the necessary connections within the organization.

They offer three critical factors for KM teams to increase their impact in the organization:
1. Act as an innovation agent
2. Customer focus
3. Collaboration

As for particular skills necessary to make linkages, KM teams must focus on the correct point of entry – what department, given the organization’s strategy, has the most importance; credibility to overcome scepticism; sustainability and skills development.

The report leads with a list of definitions that will be familiar to knowledge managers, but useful to beginners in the field. Likewise the second part, a review of approaches to KM. What is new is the heart of the report, which is a series of sections called KM and..., pairing the function with disciplines such as HR, IT, marketing and communications; virtually every conceivable major division in a large organization. The next section links KM to new ideas, rather than functions, such as "attention management," blogging, corporate social responsibility and measurement.

For each section the report gives good practice examples from (usually anonymous) heads of KM in private industry. For example, under KM and HR the authors advise making links through recruitment practices such as tracking recruiting data, integrating technology and assessment tools to make hiring more efficient and helping to develop a diverse culture. Another area of intersection is succession planning, and helping to create "a pool of leaders rather than a queue for each job."

In the KM and IT chapter, refreshingly, the authors report that the longstanding association of KM purely with IT is beginning to fade, based on several interviews with KM practitioners.

KM Review.

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