Friday, October 27, 2017

KM in Small Organizations - Start Small and Smart

I wrote in an earlier article (posted on LinkedIn) about the need for small organizations to find appropriate and adapted ways to integrate knowledge management practices within their organizational routines.  Each organization should look at opportunistic entry points for KM practices.  Tackling knowledge management across the organization may be overwhelming, even in a small organization, when most employees are already playing multiple roles. 

Why not start small AND smart?  Why not start where it could have a significant impact within a relatively short amount of time?  I’m talking about the Business Development Office (BDO).  Whether it is a non-profit organization constantly writing proposals seeking funding or a private sector firm looking for new clients, the Business Development Office is often ripe for the implementation of some knowledge management best practices.

Let’s take, for example, just one key concept, lessons learned, and see how it can apply in the context of the work of a Business Development Office:
·       Lessons learned from previous business development efforts
These are lessons internal to the BDO based on the team’s own experience developing and submitting proposals.  These lessons are meant to be implemented within the business development process. Proposal development is typically a short cycle environment where it would be relatively easy to implement rapid learning and adapting and ultimately show rapid results.  This is also where lessons learned can quickly be validated and embedded in work routines as best practices. 

  • Lessons learned from previous projects
These are lessons documented throughout the organization about the implementation of projects.  These lessons are meant to be embedded in the design of future projects and therefore in the content of proposals.

These two sets of distinct lessons learned activities should be undertaken in parallel, but if the organization is starting from scratch, the BDO can provide the necessary impetus by 1) starting its own lessons learned practice focused on its own processes; 2) identifying opportunities for drawing from project implementation lessons (even in the absence of a more formal process for documenting lessons learned across projects).  This would help create the necessary awareness and buy-in for a more formal and rigorous process for documenting lessons across projects.

Over time, combining the rapid learning cycle of the lessons learned at the BDO process level with the longer-term lessons learned from project implementation would result in higher win rates but also in performance improvements within projects.

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