Do People Trust Your KM Program?

Carla O'Dell's picture

Bob Buckman has been leading the charge to share knowledge since he was CEO of Buckman Laboratories. When I interviewed him recently for my Big Thinkers, Big Ideas series, I noticed that the reason executives want knowledge sharing to work hasn’t changed much with time: the need for rapid response in the face of changing markets and customer expectations. What has changed is the speed and cadence with which our organizations have to learn and share knowledge. Back then, Buckman had five years to make massive changes to be a sole-source supplier of knowledge and chemicals to the paper industry. Today, we often don’t have that much time. We need a knowledge management program that responds at the pace and cadence that the business requires.  

Something else that struck me was how Buckman overcame a fundamental challenge that so many large, global organizations struggle with: how to create a trusting culture. In our interview, Buckman shared how he established a trusting environment for knowledge to flow by running “Values” exercises in 14 languages at sites around the world.

Buckman held face-to-face meetings around the globe where people shared what was important to them, and he invited every employee. When the final set of shared principles came out, everyone could say, “I see myself in that. They asked me.” Bob says, “That’s what I see as missing in most KM operations today. They don’t go through the effort to build a value system for sharing knowledge. They don’t create a system where everybody is comfortable buying into the values.”

The values, which focus on treating others with dignity and respect, have been integrated into the company’s code of ethics and have become a foundation for closer global collaboration. They include:

  1. That the company is made up of individuals—each of whom has different capabilities and potentials—all of which are necessary to the success of Buckman.
  2. That we acknowledge that individuality by treating each other with dignity and respect—striving to maintain continuous and positive communications among all of us.
  3. That we recognize and reward the contributions and accomplishments of our associates.
  4. That we continually work to improve our teaming skills because we recognize that effective teamwork is essential to fulfilling our purpose.
  5. That we continually strive to learn both as an organization and as individuals so that we are positioned to create value.

To learn more about innovative KM strategies, join us for the 2015 APQC Knowledge Management Conference April 30-May 1.

You can go to the APQC Knowledge Base to read more of my interview with Bob Buckman, or listen to entire podcast here.

To subscribe to the Big Thinkers, Big Ideas podcast on Itunes, click here.

You can connect with me on Twitter @odell_carla



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