Building the Knowledge Culture

Starting KM in Your Organization: Here’s Your Strategic Road Map (Eighth Stop: Strategic Planning)

Guy St. Clair

The question we’re exploring: If you were given the task of starting KM in your organization, how would you begin? Let’s continue with our strategic road map:

For some knowledge workers, there is a tendency to think of knowledge strategy as something like a checklist, a collection of tasks to be accomplished or a set of applications to be incorporated into the larger corporate KM/knowledge services structure.

Not really. The strategy – as we noted in the previous post – is an inspirational statement, a document that describes what the company’s aspirations are in working with knowledge development and knowledge strategy (KD/KS).

Once we’ve defined what we’re hoping for with organizational knowledge, it’s now time to move on to the “checklist” (we might call it). That’s the strategic plan, the steps we will take to ensure that the organization’s knowledge goals match its operational goals.

For some, it’s often a matter of semantics, with “knowledge strategy” being used to describe both elements of the task. That’s all right, if that’s what works in your organization. The point is simply to be sure that we get both the aspirational/visionary “piece” and the specific planning direction into the picture.

A logical next step is to recognize the established connection between strategic planning and the management of strategic issues. And what are these? The answer is simple, and very broad-based: anything in the KD/KS context that causes concern or impacts organizational performance or effectiveness. From my perspective, I think of strategic issues as those things the company must get right (or, as one colleague remarked, “what keeps managers up at night”).

– Here’s my list:

– Organizational structure

– Financial planning/management

– Information management and information technology

– KM/knowledge services management and delivery

– Infrastructure planning/future services

These are all issues for which a solid, well-thought-out knowledge strategy can provide critical support. Take this list and for each item, try to identify knowledge-related activities that are required. For example, with organizational structure, ask if there is ownership for knowledge services (i.e., who is responsible for, say, the company’s intranet? what department has authority and accountability for how well the intranet is handled?). For infrastructure planning/future services, ask if the company has completed an environmental scan to establish future goals (i.e., what does the company expect to accomplish over the next two or three years?).

Once you complete these steps (especially if you’re brainstorming with colleagues along the way), you’ll soon begin to identify individual tasks that must be taken. Put them into some sort of order, and you’re on your way with your strategic plan.

Next Stop: Conduct the knowledge audit.

– Guy St. Clair

  1. guystclair says:

    Jesús Lau at the Special Libraries Association LinkedIn Group: Good KM stuff Guy! I am teaching a course on the role of information literacy in knowledge management, so your information is relevant to this course.

    Guy St. Clair: Thanks for the good comment, Jesús. Happy to know this content is being used with folks studying for future work in KM/knowledge services. We’ll be emphasizing this in our course in the M.S. in Information and Knowledge Strategy at Columbia. This foundational material is pretty important as people “dig deeper” into knowledge strategy development.

  2. guystclair says:

    David, Xu Dong on the LinkedIn Braintrust Knowledge Management Group:

    Agree with Guy for the road map,
    And just wonder should we also need to consider the scope of the KM activities, or it already be considered inside the goal element?

    As there’s too many to do for KM, if it is talking about the Intellectual Capital KM, may need to go to the board room to initiate it, if it just talking about the COP/E-learning/DMS/….or other KM topics, may can just decided by the CEO/COO at operational level.

    Guy St. Clair: Really appreciate your bringing this up, David. Just recently working with a client project the team had to invest considerable energy dealing with scope. Seems that the different parties in the KM/knowledge services project had different ideas about the project’s scope, and we had to “work through” this situation to move forward. Very important topic and glad you called it to our attention.

  3. Linna says:

    I’m startging a new KM planning now! your comments are very useful. thanks a lot.

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