August 30, 2006

Faith-based KM: Sometime You've Just Gotta Believe

My next post was actually going to be on the impact of KM with regards to employee retention & recruitment (I'm in full recruiter mode y'all - but the cold calls still suck, hehehehe), anyway, I was responding to Jim Lee's most recent post and liked what I wrote enought to re-post here.
Hmmm, a couple of observations on "valuable content"...I think its important when attempting to promote knowledge sharing activity that people are given a certain amount of latitude in what they share - many people don't immediately recognize the value in their contributions and often wait to share something "special" (and end up not sharing anything at all); I tend to favor encouraging sharing even when it's not particularly valuable just to get people in the habit of sharing.

In terms of identifying value in knowledge, in my opinion, that's part of the role that the knowledge manager plays - identifying areas for further/deeper exploration and becoming involved in the process of building the value of the knowledge base/repository. For all knowledge content, you have to read between the lines and ask "what value does this information have?", "how can this information help the organization achieve it's goals?" - and whether you yourself have any answers (or not), kick it back out to the masses and invite them to answer those questions, as well.

Too many organizations just expect that people know (1) the value of the knowledge they possess and (2) how to communicate that knowledge. This is another important role for knowledge managers - educating people on how to share, in addition to why, what, when, and where (without being too restrictive, limited, or controlling - all of which are counter-productive).

It's interesting here to note that while blogging reflects people's willingness to have a voice and share the contents of their head (however redundant, idiotic, shameless or sardonic), so many organizations are afraid of encouraging the practice internally, because they don't know what they'll get (or, more precisely, they know exactly what they'll get and they don't want to deal with it).

Something to think about: the more you attempt to control the process (and content) of knowledge sharing, the less sharing you're likely to have; and while the narrow focus may have its benefits, are you getting all the knowledge you need/want? I say worry about implementing "controls" after you've created some solid momentum.

As for measurement, I don't know if Stan intentionally or unintentionally left measurement off of his list, but I think it is a topic that gets too much attention. I absolutely see the value in incorporating measurement protocols into your KM strategy, but too much time is expended on trying to quantify the value and the benefit and to what end? Is it helping to get KM up and running? For most organizations, the inability to adequately develop measurement standards prevents KM from even getting out of the gate. I'm not saying it should be a free for all (you can have basic metrics tied to your overall goals), but perhaps organizations should try a more faith-based approach to KM and just go with it until there's actually something to measure.

Sometimes you've just gotta believe.


Arjun Thomas said...

really nice post!