Wednesday, January 26, 2011

About Knowledge Management Plans and Strategic KM

In the past 18 months, I have done a lot of thinking (and a lot of drafting of plans and requirements documents) about KM plans in the context of an attempt to "institutionalize" or "scale up" KM within the organization.  To me, the critical question isn't so much whether a KM plan would be a good idea or not, but rather, how do you make it happen when there is no requirement or mandate for projects to have such a plan.  

So, here's the real question for me: Do you try to create a KM requirement and then go about enforcing it, or do you work with project teams to create and implement a plan because they've come to believe in the value of KM activities embedded in the plan?

To get to the point where they believe in the value of KM activities, you need to convince them to actually implement some KM activities.  Perhaps they'll agree to do an activity or two, but they won't experience the full value unless they do it systematically, throughout the project's life cycle.  If you implement ad hoc KM activities with the project, they'll start seeing KM as just that, "ad hoc" and not something that's truly embedded into the project.  It becomes something that the KM team does with them once in a while rather than their KM activity.

Why KM Plans (January 24, 2011), Nick Milton in Knoco Stories - From the Knowledge Management Front Line

"One of the push-backs we often get when we introduce KM plans is “why do we need a plan? Any good engineer will naturally do all the learning they need; surely a KM plan or learning plan is just added work for no added value?”

I posted a comment in response to this blog post, suggesting that when there isn't a requirement for a KM plan, it may be more effective to integrate KM elements into existing plans.  I've seen it integrated into the Risk Management Plan.

 Knowledge management Plans,

"The concept of a project-level Knowledge Management plan is one of the most exciting new ideas to come out of Knowledge Management in the past 5 years. It is a device that allows Knowledge Management to be fully embedded into project controls, at the same level of rigour as risk management, or document management."

I strong believe in the potential of KM plans.  They're particularly valuable in the context of large, complex projects that are driven by plans and requirements and document management to begin with.The project may be complex, but the KM plan needs to be simple and leverage other things that are already planned within the project. 

See also Knoco Newsletter on Knowledge Management Plans (Spring 2007).

Planning for Strategically Relevant KM

Are You Wasting Money on Useless Knowledge Management?, January 20th, Harvard Business Review, by Ian MacMillan, Max Boisot, and Martin Ihri. 

"The problem is that most current knowledge management efforts merely inventory the company's knowledge, without parsing out the knowledge that is strategically relevant. Strategic management of knowledge focuses only on those knowledge assets that are critical to your firm's competitive performance — from the tacit expertise of key individuals right through to explicit company-wide general principles."
I agree with the statement above.  That's also why all the current attention given to social media as a KM solution, is potentially misguided if it is seen merely as a way to better connect people. Also, strategically relevant KM at the organizational level may imply KM activities at the organizational level rather than just KM at the project level.  There are different layers of strategic KM activities at each level of the organization.

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