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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

12 Steps to KM success

The following is a 12-step framework providing thought-provoking ideas and questions that practitioners can consider in the context of their own programs.

1. Value Proposition: Does your organization have a compelling story on how KM will provide business benefit? To the organization, value is culturally determined and needs to be consistent with the executive teams worldview. The value proposition needs to consider value from the perspective of all stakeholders including the executive team, employees and customers. This will ensure that the “What’s in it for me?” question is answered for all stakeholders ensuring greater buy-in for the target community.

2. Strategic Alignment: Do you need a KM strategy or is the KM program directly supporting the existing business strategy of the organization? If you choose to have a KM strategy it needs to be aligned with the organization strategy. When you’re asked what KM is, do you discuss KM as a discipline or how KM supports the business goals? How will you determine your KM approach – top down executive driven; bottom up employee value or a blend of the two? Will it be an organization-wide, team or business unit focus?

3. Organizational Structure: What's the structure of your organization? This must be determined to understand the potential challenges (business unit silos, internal competition it may face and so on). For effective knowledge flow and transfer of best practice the KM strategy will need to overcome any structural barriers. Moreover, the segmenting of the KM team should be consistent with the scope and resource requirements of the KM program and have a very senior and powerful sponsor. Where will the KM leader report in the organization – IT, HR or operations?
4. Managing performance: How is KM performance rewarded in your organization? Do you have clear and simple objectives with effective measures or are your targets the measures?The KM objectives for the program need to be determined (relationship to business objectives), where the measurement framework is simple and integrated into existing culturally-accepted frameworks. How employees will be recognized and rewarded needs to be clarified when new behaviors are demonstrated. The reward and recognition should be congruent with existing HR policies.

5. Cultural sensitivity: Do you think KM can change the organizational culture? What are the philosophies, values, stories and myths in your organization? What are the unsaid laws that determine the behavior of employees?The KM program needs to be congruent with the organizational, national and professional culture. It will also need to be fine-tuned in various geographies and business units to cater for these three critical factors.

6. Technology: Does your technology enable KM or direct the solution? Is it consistent with existing IT platforms? Is it part of the standard workflow? Do people think KM is integral to their role as the technology is integrated into their daily work functions?Technology should be premised on enabling the KM strategy and integrated into the existing infrastructure with similar touch and feel of existing technology.

7. Knowledge creation: How do you know what knowledge is important to your organization? What knowledge will be created? Who will capture it? Who has the time and resources to capture it? How do you know you’re capturing the “right” knowledge? Tacit or explicit? What’s the scope of knowledge creation? Is knowledge a commodity that can be captured and shared or socially constructed?

8. Knowledge structure: How will knowledge be structured for reuse? Is the structure simple where any employee can structure the knowledge or do you need specialist writers who understand the terminology? What format? Who has access? The structure should be determined in the context of ease of find ability and usability.

9. Knowledge review: Will you review the knowledge before storing in a repository? Who will review? What expertise is required? What resources and processes? How will you ensure the integrity of what’s being stored in your repository?

10. Knowledge reuse: How will employees search for knowledge to reuse? Is transfer of knowledge easy and seamless? Is searching for existing knowledge a standard work practice? Do you have one search engine or multiple? Is reuse a socially constructed phenomenon?

11. Knowledge base vitality: Who owns the knowledge? Who’s responsible for updating and archiving? How will this be managed and resourced?A process is necessary to ensure that the content of the knowledge base is maintained to ensure integrity – archiving old content and updating existing content as the environment changes.

12. Environmental scanning: Do you continually scan the environment to ensure that your KM program is aligned with changes of organizational strategy? Are you aware of how employees “feel” about sharing their knowledge? Is trust high? What factors in the environment are impacting KM in your organization – knowledge is power, job security fears?Is your KM program continually adapting to changes in the environment? Remember it’s survival of the most adaptable in this ever-changing world we live in.
Adapted from "12 Steps to KM success, in the September/October 2006 issue of KM Review.

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