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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Finding the real value in lessons learned databases

By John Davidson, Facilitators UK

Lessons learned databases can be an indispensable part of the KM toolkit. Well executed, they can add a lot of value. But sometimes this tool isn't used to anything like its full potential. Here John Davidson of Facilitators UK gives eight tips for making the most of your lessons database.

1. Make sure there is a process to acquire lessons learned (peer reviews, after action reviews, quality improvement loops etc).

2. Regularly re-validate the lessons to ensure accuracy, reliability and relevance.

3. Ensure that the database is selected as the storage point for the lesson appropriately, when embedding it in a process, document, training course, checklist etc. may be a better option.

4. Educate people to use the LLD when a problem is encountered that is not answerable via other means – this is not as obvious as it sounds.

5. Put the right culture in place so that there is a facilitative environment for knowledge sharing.

6. Show the value in sharing lessons – record the benefits and impact from learning a lesson;

7. Feed back to contributors – say thanks, tell them what you’ve done.

8. Do something! It’s easy to capture lessons and expect others to read them, digest them and apply them – but it’s only by doing something with them that they will add value.


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Analyzing your organization before its KM transformation

By Michael Fung, Singapore Ministry of Manpower

KM can be used as the beginning of a major organizational change, but there are many barriers to such a plan. Here Michael Fung, deputy director of the Knowledge Innovation Development branch at Singapore Ministry of Manpower gives five top tips to consider when planning a KM transformation.

  1. What to consider: By using a blended approach to complete KM integration, consider the following focus areas: Strategic alignment with the business plan; business process redesign; systems thinking; information architecture; and enabling IT systems.
  2. Execution: To successfully execute a KM transformation plan, the KM team often needs to function as the overall business integrator, which orchestrates and collaborates with various business and corporate units ranging from corporate planning to HR to customer facing business units. By actively partnering with the various domain owners, you can take an inclusive approach in the KM transformation journey.
  3. Make KM count: Effective initiatives need to show clear contribution to business priorities and alignment with business strategies. Frequently, strategies across different departments are not aligned and each department has its own piece of the puzzle and their own, fragmented view of the customer and world at large. Hence, one of the key KM challenges is to build a bridge across those different strategies and perspectives to give all employees a comprehensive understanding of what you're trying to do. At the outset, the business study phase, consider a plan to align your business's departments. There must be widespread consensus to the plan for it to work.
  4. Carry out a knowledge audit: Once a strategy for alignment has been developed (point 3), identify the key knowledge assets created and consumed at each part of the process. This is akin to doing a knowledge audit, with an emphasis on identifying knowledge flows across organizational boundaries. The questions to ask during this process are:What knowledge do we need to carry out at this process step? What are the knowledge flows that will enable effective interfacing between departments? How is this knowledge currently created, stored and shared? Where are the gaps in the management of these knowledge assets? What else needs to be done to collect and manage these knowledge assets?
  5. Map your organization: Following this knowledge audit, a knowledge asset map can then be translated into an overall knowledge architecture for the organization in its entirety.

Excerpted from Breaking Silos at Singapore Ministry of Manpower, by Michael Fung, Singapore MOM in the May/June issue of KM Review.

For more information, visit the KM Review homepage.

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