Tuesday 6 May 2008

Implementing KM - Success Factors

I gave a presentation tonight at the Dublin Institute of Technology based on my dissertation. In it I was demonstrating the high level findings of the research and some of the learning points and experiences of piloting an enterprise wiki as a knowledge management enabler.

First off was the idea that knowledge management is much more about people, their knowledge and embedding a knowledge sharing culture than any particular technology. IT will inevitably be part of any large KM initiative, but is only the enabler of the end goal. It is important to tie the goals of the KM program to the objectives of the organisation in which it is positioned. This will help senior management to sell and promote it.

I have tried to promote the benefits of KM as part of the initiative. I have found it is important to communicate these in a language which makes sense to all stakeholders, without too much jargon. The first 3 are recommended by Stan Garfield. They were:
  • Avoiding redundant effort.
  • Avoiding repeated mistakes.
  • Taking advantage of existing expertise in the organisation.
  • Making individuals more effective.
  • Making teams more effective.

Given the people focus of my research, collaboration and knowledge flows became important. If we examine the knowledge networks which exist in an organisation, we can better understand how knowledge flows throughout it. Large Organisations are made up of many networks, with key players who act as information brokers, boundary spanners, central connectors, and peripheral specialists. These flows can often create knowledge bottlenecks of bureaucracy, which can prevent free knowledge sharing.

Next it was onto Web 2.0, and how the elements and behaviours of web 2.0 applications and communities are becoming increasingly popular in knowledge management. For example, a Forrester paper out last week reported that 85% of companies using Wikis were using them as a knowledge management tool. The match between tools such as wikis to the knowledge cycle (find, organise, share, use/reuse) and the enabling features (Search Link Author Tag Extend Signal) of web 2.0 is one which has not gone unoticed. My approach was simple:

  • Engage Senior Management to back the initiative.
  • Secure exclusive, high profile use-cases for the portal.
  • Brand the portal to promote its use.
  • Meet with prospective teams and user groups to gauge reaction.
  • Drive wiki adoption by becoming a ‘Wiki Champion’.

The initiative was supported top-down by senior management, driven bottom-up from grassroots, and promoted laterally through communities of practices. This ensures sustained engagement across a wide range of groups within the organisation.

3 high level conclusions:

  1. Knowledge management is more about people and the processes which enable knowledge management than specific technologies.

  2. Simplicity is important, providing knowledge workers with the tools to quickly capture, organise, share and reuse knowledge which is important to their work.

  3. Wiki’s provide users with the collaborative environment required for successful knowledge management.

1 comment:

Damian said...

It was a really, really excellent persentation, you should seriously consider videoing it and creating a podcast from it. I think a lot of people in KM could benefit from it.