Anyone working with KM, knowledge services, and knowledge strategy development isn’t surprised to learn that the most popular request from potential clients and colleagues comes early in the discussion.
No, it is not (surprising you here!): “How much will this cost?”
Discussing cost comes later.
The first request is simple and straightforward: “OK: KM. Knowledge Services. Knowledge Strategy. How do we get started?”
First off, Guy is going to invite the questioner to take a look at something published a while back. It was an SMR Special Report (based on a series of posts originally published here). The report lists ten “considerations” (we might call them) for strategic knowledge workers as they move into a knowledge-related activity. The report is SMR Special Report (January 2012) – Starting KM in Your Organization: Here’s Your Strategic Road Map.
Hold on, Guy. Everyone doesn’t want to sit down and read through a document, even one that’s only about eight pages long and broken up into a group of specific actions.
I can handle that.
So I continue the conversation with a few questions.
- What’s the why? Why are you thinking about the larger subject of knowledge development and knowledge sharing (KD/KS) at this point? What’s driving your interest? (“Our department has a knowledge bank that isn’t being used.” “The research team doesn’t connect with the records coordinators to identify when a situation has already been dealt with.” “My boss has heard colleagues speaking about KM and she wants me to do something with KM.”)
- Is it a big deal? Is the concern serious or is it just something someone’s curious about? Judge the seriousness level by continuing with your exploration of the why. Is it financial (“The company is losing money and wasting resources because we have x systems for information/knowledge capture in a wide variety of platforms – we lose too much time gathering information.”)? Is it ignorance or lack of awareness (“Our knowledge-sharing system was rolled out in 2004 and we find what we need, so everything’s fine with us.”)? Is it competitive-based (“XYZ Inc. is selling the same services we sell and appears to be making more profit. What are they doing differently?”).
- Is the situation (solving a problem or embarking on a proposed innovation) relevant? Will implementing the change – solving the problem or undertaking the innovation – provide direct benefit to company? Is it connected to the achievement of the larger enterprise-wide mission (“We’re in this business because the company expects to…. We develop and share information and knowledge because by doing so the company can….”).
- Who’s concerned? Who’s involved (note the last example in Item 1 above)? Sponsorship, leadership concern/interest, and management support are all critical to the success of any KD/KS effort (“If we standardize this process in every division, management will have a single framework for decision-making relating to this topic.” “We will see corporate-wide usage when the CEO and his team are using this new knowledge product.”). Good news travels, especially when a knowledge-focused activity is successful and senior management says so.
- why do it?
- is it important?
- is it relevant?
- is there a sponsor?
Answer those question and you’re ready to go forward with your KM, knowledge services, and knowledge strategy project.