Friday, June 13, 2014

KM in the Trenches

Presentation by Ulla de Stricker, Cindy Shamel and Connie Crosby at SLA-2014, Vancouver, BC, Canada, June 8, 2014
Presenters are authors of Knowledge Management Practice in Organizations: The View from Inside.

Chapter 2 – KM Culture, by Ulla de Stricker is available for download –
If a city tears up the same street three times over a six month period to install three different cables, there’s a KM problem.

If KM is imposed by IT – no one will do it.
There are often multiple KM groups within the same organization.

You have to look at the cultural aspect of the organization in order to see how you can incorporate KM practices.
How do we proceed?  Short term – it may be easy to fix an immediate KM short-coming.  Provide someone with the information s/he needs.  But what about the long term?

Knowledge Audit:
How do you find out what you need to know about your organization?

Hire a consultant.  Conduct a survey.  Become an Undercover Boss!  Just like the TV show, go undercover to find out what problems exist in your organization so you can fix them.
New hires are another source of information on what is going on and what isn’t working.  They have their experience at another job and can communicate on any difficulties they are having in finding information at the new place.

KM by stealth – if management doesn’t like KM – do it anyway, just don’t call it KM.
Managers lose sight of the grass roots after about two years.  Many times good workers become managers because they know how a department works.  They know what it takes to run things well.  But as they focus more on administrative duties, they begin to lose sight of the work.

KM Culture – there is not always enough Time, Thought or Reflection to implement KM.
People cycle through the organization faster and faster.  It is harder to keep track of what KM efforts have been made before and what is in place and/or working and not working.

Often KM technology is rolled out – but we forget that human oversight and interaction is needed.  We often forget to train people on how to use the technology and think that the technology will just do the work of KM.
Human oversight and intervention is IMPORTANT!

Be Agile – add value to the KM process every day or every week.  Work toward accomplishing the KM solution for the organization incrementally.
How do we get buy-in?

Listen – eavesdrop!
Where are people suffering?  Where is the pain?  What is keeping the boss awake at night?

Build the KM strategy around what is worrying the boss.  If you can find a solution to her/his concerns, you will get buy-in at the top.
3 questions:

Ask the following questions to people in your organization and listen to their answers.  You will learn a lot.
  • Tell me about your day – what does your department do?
  • Tell me about your research?  What are you working on?
  • What’s the buzz in your field these days?

Facts and Findings:
When preparing a report on the Knowledge Audit there are three sections:

Facts and findings – the current state of things – just the facts.
Pointers – this prepares them to think about and get ready to hear solutions.  But don’t include the solutions in the report.  If you do, they will skip to the solutions and explain away why they cannot afford to implement the solutions.

Solutions – find out where the organization is in pain – and tailor the solutions to ease that.
Ownership of systems is essential.

Scale-up over time.
Start small and build out.


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