Use It Or Lose It

It’s common problem. You’re digging around for information and you discover the answer lies with someone who doesn’t work there anymore, or that the same problem was solved elsewhere in the company few years ago, but the answer was never shared with people in your division.
This is the wakeup call to develop knowledge management programme in your company.
Here are things you can do tomorrow to start managing knowledge in your own organisation.

1. Define your goals
You can’t identify and manage intellectual assets unless you know what you’re trying to do with them. What do you want to know? Why? What are you going to do with it? The three most important elements of budding knowledge management strategy are focus, focus and focus.

2. Assess your current knowledge
Once you’ve worked out what you need to know, and why you need to know it, the next question is ?where can we find those things out?’. Assess what your organisation already knows, what others know, where the gaps are, and how to fill those gaps.

3. Look for the easy gains
Sell knowledge management to senior management by stating small. Look for those places where small changes can deliver substantial gains. Enrol the staff in identifying those changes. Get the ?runs on the board’.
4. Establish leadership
Successful KM requires leadership. Think of how you can adapt your current organisational/management structures to both lead and support KM. Who are the knowledge-sharing advocates in your organisation? Who are the knowledge brokers?

5. Introduce rewards
Reward staff for sharing and managing knowledge. Introduce regular award ceremony for best results and best efforts. Make big deal about the awards. Use them as an opportunity to further KM.

6. Create the room to manage knowledge
Create the time and space for staff to share and manage knowledge. Make reflection an integral part of every project cycle. Encourage informal meetings. Create means for cross-functional communication. Model the behaviours you seek.
7. Use your current IT systems
Think about how your current IT system can be adapted to support knowledge sharing and managing. Consider issues of application, access, management, and training.

8. Monitor, evaluate and revise
Establish monitoring and evaluation systems to show that KM is paying its way. These will help develop system that adds the most value quickly.

9. Start small
Create knowledge map of your organisation. Or compendium of important process lessons. Look for high-value knowledge. Think about knowledge that staff will pull from the system rather than need to have pushed on them.

10. Look within
Working knowledge is what adds most value, and no one knows more about that then your staff. Enrol their participation.

By Carl Davidson, director of Auckland based No Doubt Research, specialists in Knowledge Management, the strategic use of research and value-added research design. He is co-author of Social Science Research in New Zealand, Starting Fieldwork: An Introduction to Qualitative Research in New Zealand, Reform at Work: Workplace Change and the New Industrial Order. Email:[email protected]

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