While the entrance into the current state seemed abrupt, coming out of the pandemic appears to be at a slower pace. It is not too soon to begin thinking about “what’s next?” What will we do as we exit this period in our lives? What will be our strategy for keeping knowledge on top of mind?
As I have been writing down what KM’s playbook might look like, my two questions have been “What have we learned during this time and how does it play into what we will do next?” The goal for KM is to be ready to make “business as usual” better.
Based on that, here are my top 3 things to help you rethink, retool, and, in some cases, reclaim your KM space.
#1 Be ready to tell your story. I have heard some unique and interesting stories about what KM groups are doing to help in the current state of COVID-19. Document what you are doing, who benefits, and the value added to the person and/or business.
Here are a few of the trailers of great stories shared by various organizations with APQC the past few weeks:
- “KM is the glue that is keeping us together!”
- “Dispersed KM teams provide the global coverage needed to keep important content curated and updated. We now see the power of being able to provide 24/7 knowledge services.”
- “With change happening every hour, the KM group has provided the organization great project management to keep us focused on the things that matter.
- “KM helped us shift face-to-face meetings for knowledge intensive projects to virtual without delays to our project timeline.”
What will make your story even better, is the ability to answer, “so what?” as part of the storyline. Were you able to continue with minimum loss of productivity, were projects able to get back on schedule with minimal loss of time and money, or did the information/expertise received help you better service your customers? Whatever it is, putting your metrics to work will make your story memorable to the business.
#2 Recognize what didn’t work and fix it. This time period has really highlighted the lack of some important knowledge capabilities. The current situation is accelerating everything digital and strategies are moving faster. If implementing collaborative technologies was on your wish list before the pandemic, these tools have probably been moved to the top of the list and are getting put into place or well on the way. Many of the KM groups I have talked to have said it has been bumpy, but they are managing through it all and things are getting better in terms of people being able to use the technology. Those organizations already using collaboration tools are learning how to be more productive with them as well as providing personal touches, such as adding social channels in chat sites for their staff.
One of the most concerning things I’ve observed that needs to be fixed is lack of collaborative work processes. People are not always comfortable connecting and talking. People are multitasking and not prioritizing collaborative work. You’ve got the tools, but how do you really get work done with them? Collaborative work processes build relationships that lead to trust. The following processes and techniques are worth the time and resources and can help the organization manage the uncertainty of our times.
- Conduct knowledge mapping (yes virtually) to help people solve complex problems, conduct deep work, or identify gaps in knowledge.
- Have experts complete job hand-off templates to start capturing knowledge at risk.
- Use weekly After-Action Reviews to capture local know-how and share globally.
- Realign your communities to the business priorities with a focus on innovation and outcomes.
#3 Don’t stop focusing on critical knowledge. High value content and expertise that can be accessed quickly is the new norm. Putting relevant, contextual knowledge at people’s fingertips will help them accelerate the job to be done. My proudest moment during this pandemic is hearing how so many KM teams have pivoted, organized, and reacted to the business needs. Employees had to be kept informed of what was happening on a regular basis and KM has helped facilitate a constant and consistent flow of curated content – often delivered through low-tech solutions. This content has been pushed out to address real-time questions and challenges.
Overwhelmingly, KM has facilitated and worked to bring global, organizational knowledge to bear in time of constant change. One of our professional services KM teams managed an external survey that provided real-time responses to keep a pulse on what was happening with staff and clients across the globe. Talk about agile!
While I have no KM crystal ball, I’m never shy about predicting “what’s next?” We have but a moment in time where the window is open for deep change to happen. Don’t overthink, act. Stay close to your business and understand how it has or will change because of the pandemic experience. Many industries are operating at 20% capacity. The willingness to adopt knowledge capabilities is high; use your learnings to help you get your arms around confusion and opportunities before the window closes. #KMisSavage
I invite you to join APQC for our next two KM Conversations webinar series, Innovating Through Disruption and Change (May 13-14) and KM for a Smarter, More Automated World (May 20-21) to see what organizations are doing to innovate during times of disruption or if how they are using the latest emerging technology for KM. We have amazing presentations from some of the speakers that would have presented live at the 2020 Knowledge Management Conference and an interactive discussion session led by an all-star lineup of KM leaders. APQC members can register now to join us live.