It takes time for all knowledge management (KM) programs to ramp up to the highest levels of performance, but there are ways to launch faster and speed up results. Whether your KM program is at the starting line or trying to catch up on the next lap, here’s how to move fast and go far.
First, Check the Alignment
Your KM program isn’t going anywhere if it’s not aligned with the business. Here are five questions you can ask executives to identify the right business problems for KM to solve:
- Do we have the knowledge we need to compete in the near term?
- What knowledge will we need to innovate and meet longer-term needs?
- What market differentiator(s) can be improved if knowledge and expertise are better shared and transferred?
- Are there current or upcoming challenges that are knowledge-related?
- What would KM success look like for our organization?
Answering these questions can help you define the value proposition for your KM program while also identifying leadership expectations, low-hanging-fruit opportunities, and potential challenges. Once you’ve established the rationale and scope of the KM effort, lay out objectives, KPIs, resource requirements, costs, benefits, and a timeline for implementation in a KM business case.
Build a High-Performance Pit Crew
Employees should be the ones that really drive KM, but you need a good “pit crew” of KM roles to keep the engines humming. When it comes to building your crew, it’s smart to think beyond the KM core team itself. While every KM program requires at least some kind of dedicated staff, APQC’s research finds no statistical correlation between the size of an organization’s KM staff and either the rate of KM participation or perceptions of its effectiveness.
Even a small KM team can be successful with the support of KM volunteers, champions, and super users out in the business. Because they speak the language of the business, they can talk about KM in ways that really resonate with their peers and colleagues. They can provide on-the-spot support for people that need a helping hand. And importantly, they can spot roadblocks that the core KM team might never see coming. Having people in the business to support KM is so effective that we’re starting to see more organizations formalize the approach with trained and officially designated full-time, part-time, or volunteer KM support roles embedded in the business.
Shine Up the Exterior
You’ll go far with a smart strategy and the right people. Still, it’s worth the effort to shine up the exterior with a compelling KM brand and messaging strategy. Remember that KM must continually compete for employees’ attention. You’re not going to build any excitement around knowledge sharing if your KM assets look like “old Internet” and your outreach is boring (or worse yet, absent).
Before you work on your brand and messaging, take a close look at the KM toolkit itself. You don’t want to engage in false advertising by telling folks that KM is easy and intuitive when it’s really not. Once you’re confident your tools are good to go, develop a strong and recognizable KM brand. Then, plot out your messaging strategy by asking the question: “Why should people at our organization care about KM?” Usually, the answer to this question ties back to the broader mission, values, and strategy of the organization. For example, “If people share and reuse knowledge, we can provide better services for our clients.”
Then, develop and execute a KM communications plan. You’ll need to disseminate a range of messages, and you have a bevvy of internal communications options at your disposal, but please, resist the temptation to blast everything out to everyone on all platforms. Instead, segment your KM audience and develop a targeted plan that hits the right people at the right times on the right channels.
Get More Tips from KM Pros
Speakers from the Accelerate Your KM Journey track at APQC’s 2020 KM Conference will preview their sessions during a live webinar on Monday, March 2 at 10:00 a.m. CST. Join us to learn what has made them successful.