The “Big Picture” – And our KM/Knowledge Services Targets
As managers pay more attention to organizational effectiveness, an important parallel development has to do with the way enterprise leaders are looking at KM/knowledge services.
In the not-too-distant past – back when we had to argue and cajole and use all our manipulative tools to get management to have some interest in KM/knowledge services – one trick we used was the old “low-hanging fruit” idea. We would find some high-visibility, catchy KM/knowledge services technique, go to management with some discussions about how the organization needed to be thinking about how we were dealing with strategic knowledge, and make a case for putting it in place. Usually on a sort of experimental basis, focusing on one department or functional unit – probably a fairly small operation – and we would work on it as a “pilot” project, just to be safe and just to be sure too many fingers weren’t burned if we failed.
That’s not so much the case anymore. What we’re seeing now is management coming to us, the KM/knowledge services professionals, and asking us to prepare a business case for figuring out how the organization can deal with strategic knowledge. And as often as not, management (at least up-to-date and well-educated senior managers who recognize the viability of KM/knowledge services in the organization) is not asking for pilot projects or some easy-to-fix situation that has little risk. Now management is looking for an enterprise-wide KM/knowledge services strategy, and the gauntlet has been thrown down. It’s up to us to rise to the challenge.
So how do we do it? How do we tackle this “big picture” opportunity?
One scenario I’m seeing in my work has to do with taking advantages of the enterprise-wide approach: since you’re working with such a large group, you get to identify the different layers and operational functions in place throughout the company and you work with different people to understand what information, knowledge, and strategic learning is required for them, at their particular level. Meaning of course that the people working in production on the shop floor are experiencing one KM/knowledge services need, the people in middle management with another, the employees in the executive suite with even another (or several if you separate out what the executives themselves require as opposed to the office management staff, personal assistants, and others).
You get the picture. We’re now at the point where it’s OK – even good – to identify that managing strategic knowledge is not going to be the same for everyone in the organization. Indeed, it will be this over-arching collaboration and knowledge-sharing experience that will enable the organization to break down those “silos” and “smokestacks” we hear so many managers lamenting about. If we – as the KM/knowledge services authorities – are able to get our arms around the enterprise-wide strategic knowledge challenge, our colleagues and co-workers will be able to do the same.
Is this a new direction? I think so, and it might be one of the future trends in KM/knowledge services people talk about from time to time.
And certainly the beginning of a new year (and of a new decade as my pal Cindy Hill has pointed out) is the ideal time to identify some of the new trends in KM/knowledge services that are coming down the pike. And talk about how we can adapt them in our own workplace.