Here we are, knowledge services directors with responsibility for the management of strategic knowledge in our employing organizations.
Most of the time we’re required to deal with standard management functions. Once in a while, though, a real opportunity comes along, and we find ourselves positioned to move the organization forward in terms of knowledge services.
Two recent queries from colleagues got me to thinking about how we might prepare for such an occasion.
One colleague asks what essentials he should have in his basket “as he floats through the KM/knowledge services cloud on a balloon” – as he charmingly puts it. Another colleague notes that he may likely be presented with the opportunity to re-structure his organization’s specialized library into the company’s knowledge center, a knowledge nexus for all knowledge services-related transactions and functions.
Here are the “essentials” I would aim for:
* Extremely high visibility in the organization Make it your business to ensure that everyone understands what strategic knowledge is. Make sure they know that if they have any exercise, task, product development idea, project, or just plain ol’ document management issues to deal with or choose from, your strategic knowledge management skills make you to go-to person (or your team if you have several people in your office).
* Structural “fit” Position your knowledge services functional unit to ensure it supports units and programs where the action is. You and your staff want to be known for taking on the tough tasks, the hard stuff that no one else – even the subject experts – can figure out for themselves (or who get it wrong). Stay away from the kid stuff. And when you and your team are part of a successful strategic knowledge sharing scenario, promote the hell out of it. Let anybody who gets within ten feet of you know how tough the job was and how great it was to pull it off. And be sure to give credit to the people from outside your unit who worked with your team to make it a successful.
* Build your troops Within every department or functional unit in the organization, identify someone to be that unit’s designated person who – while focusing on the specific subject or functionality of the unit – has responsibility as the knowledge services point person for the unit. This person doesn’t have to be an information, knowledge, or strategic learning “professional” per se, but it should be someone who is assigned when hired to “help” the unit in terms of information, knowledge, or strategic learning (and the person doesn’t have to have top-heavy qualifications – just an interest in helping people find what they need to know). Once you’ve identified the point person for the unit, you and your team take responsibility for and work with unit management in mentoring, advising, and coaching the point person so they learn to direct people to your knowledge center – the organizational knowledge nexus – for any query having to do with finding and learning what they need to know
* Knowledge leadership Establish yourself and your team as the strategic learning specialists for the organization. Your goal is to make sure the knowledge development/knowledge sharing (KD/KS) process is “built in” to the organizational culture. Talk about what Dale Stanley refers to as the “catalytic” quality of knowledge services, how KD/KS enables you and the people you come in contact with to create knowledge value through KD/KS. Use the language. Get people to talking about strategic knowledge and what strategic knowledge is for each person’s workplace. Create the KD/KS buzz in your organization.
* Go holistic. Finally (and very appropriate for this week, in which we are observing the 100th anniversary of Peter Drucker’s birth), take whatever steps are necessary to see that you and your team support the entire organization. A recent article in Harvard Business Review offers that Mr. Drucker’s real contribution lies in his “integrative, holistic thinking.” Integrative, holistic thinking works in managing strategic knowledge services, too. Make it enterprise-wide. Don’t allow yourself and your staff to become the intellectual “pets” of this or that research unit or function. If that’s what’s needed, get yourself or a staff member embedded in that unit’s projects, on a case-by-case basis. Your job is to be the KD/KS process managers, the knowledge thought leaders, for the entire organization.