Knowledge Management is a not technology, it is about people, processes and practice. Without the three main pillar of knowledge management, it is absolutely certain to fail even if you have state of art technology.
People are important from vision, commitment, change, and culture perspective. The organization needs an individual or a group to have a vision to lead the knowledge management initiative. Vision is not just aligning it with business drivers, but also thought process of taking it to a higher level. Not all initiatives see the light, success and adoption, commitment is the black bone of all implementations. It needs to come from executive management. Knowledge management is also about change in processes and culture. It is about openness and adoption from people who are part of it. Culture varies with organizations, geographical locations, and people. The success of knowledge management is heavily dependent on organization's culture as well.
Processes are policies that govern activities across the corporate. Knowledge management is set of processes by which companies organize themselves to generate value from their intellectual and knowledge based assets.
Practice is platform on which processes are designed, implemented and governed by the people for the organization. The processes managed and governed over the period of time becomes practice when it is wildly adopted.
The knowledge management methodology framework consist of four stages. It is strategy, planning, execution and improvement. Though it is typical of any methodology to have these stages, but it is important to understand each of the stages of knowledge management before starting a new initiative.
Knowledge management is about generating value, value from knowledge assets. Knowledge is actionable piece of information that one can act upon for generating value. Value is subjective and varies depending upon the business strategy. One business strategy could be generating new business from products and services or generating business from new products and services. The strategy is focused on the market and companies core business. For example, Google's main business runs out of web. It is important for Google to accumulate knowledge of user behavior and web traffic statistics. Google can plan the new products and services based on that knowledge. Another business strategy could be saving cost, enhancing predictability and quality by increasing productivity and reuse. The strategy is focused on internal resources and their productivity and knowledge reuse. For example, Cisco would want to reduce learning time and increase productivity of the employees through reuse of existing knowledge base.
I read an interesting commentary by an executive. He said he lived in a small town all his life. He went to New York for first time to see Manhattan. When he landed at the airport, he rented a car and headed toward the Manhattan. When he was driving towards it, he saw larger than life view of the Manhattan. He thought for a minute and then took the U-turn for his hotel. He realized that he has to first make a plan and then come back later. The planning is very important, be it a sightseeing or a knowledge management initiative.
Processes needs to improve all the time. We need processes to collect data on processes from quantity and quality stand point. Using the data, we can build statistics, charts and reports for further improvement. Process should be seen as constant learning vehicle, learning and improving from the data supplied within.
The key activities in each of these stages are listed below:
- Formulate measurable business objectives
- Obtain ongoing executive sponsorship
- Find right resources for KM team
- Identify and tackle cultural resistance
- Identify target users and experts
- Conduct detail needs assessment
- Identify small and critical first phase
- Identify organization knowledge
- Design processes for collate and create knowledge content
- Design effective business processes
- Execute to a detailed project plan
- Keep user community involved at all times
- Focus of knowledge Quality
- Market Knowledge management Implementation
- Measure qualitatively and quantitatively success of KM processes
- Continuously improve KM processes
- Provide feedback to all the above stages
Each of the activities can further be divided into tasks with guidelines and finite deliverable.
A typical knowledge management implementation model can be divided following steps:
- Aligning with Corporate Strategy
- Identifying and Capturing Knowledge
- Communicating and Organizing Knowledge
- Creating a Knowledge-Sharing Culture
- Continuous Improvement
- Leveraging Knowledge for Market Success