KM: Engaging with Other Professions
Implementing KM, done in a strategic way, has quite an impact on organisations. People see changes such as team learning processes, genuine closing of the learning loop, effective communities, individual knowledge transfer and structured & pragmatic KM Plans for projects and functions. This can cause quite a lot of energy and excitement, not just from individuals but from other professional disciplines – this is because they all work with knowledge whether consciously or otherwise.
KM needs to reach out to these other disciplines and build relationships with them in a proactive way. My overall learning in this is that there are no standard formulae to this, even for the same discipline in the same sector – they are at different levels of maturity and led by people with different outlooks. It seems to me that the best approach is to find out the key professional disciplines in the organisation in question, and engage with them without assuming they are the same as those with the same name you may have come across elsewhere.
Some observations at insights I have found are outlined below (the selection below is obviously non-exhaustive) – you never stop learning in KM so any feedback / advice most welcome.
KM and Communications
Implementing KM, as with any change management programme, has a very strong emphasis on communications. I have found it very helpful to meet with Communications to get their advice on communications channels, language, targeted staff and tuning the content of what I want to say.
Any lessons that the Communications dept has previously gained from supporting change management programmes within the organisation can be especially valuable
KM and Quality
I have had some quite varying experiences here. For example, in one organisation Quality saw it as their role to manage the learning aspect of the organisation (as well as more usual Quality aspects around monitoring and governance) and they tended to see KM as approaching their lawn with some tanks looking for a place to park. This took some careful conversations to resolve.
In contrast, Quality in another organisation were only too happy to leave the organisational learning aspect to KM, they saw their role as supporting us introduce new processes and monitoring their take-up as they became more expected by the organisational culture.
KM and Risk Management (RM)
I usually view KM and RM as very close cousins – simply because in today’s world, many risks are mitigated by knowledge. I have found it helpful to include RM in KM Plans, so that any risk processes can then feed into up-front knowledge needs for projects or functions. Similarly, lessons identified from KM learning processes can be reviewed for significant risk and RM consulted & supported. There is a close and mutually supportive relationship here if well tapped and maintained.
KM and HR
There are several ways I have found to engage with HR, again it varies between organisations. These include distributed KM Managers working with HR to identify who is coming up for retirement so that proactive Individual Knowledge Transfer (IKT) can be done in an effective and timely manner. Implementing KM also means designing & implementing KM training courses and of course HR can provide valuable support in this in a manner which fits the culture and usual training practice.
Additionally, lessons from KM team learning processes may well show areas where training courses in various topics need to be updated and refreshed to reflect ongoing & operational experience.
HR can also recognise that implementing KM is about leadership and ask KM to assist in identifying and nurturing fast-track staff members.
KM and Lean
I’ve only come across Lean once, and they were also in the early stages of visioning what it meant for the organisation and implementing it in a tailored way. I recall a meeting exchanging lots of insights and ideas, it was fascinating, quite deep at times and I lost quite a few brain cells in the process! The outcome was the Lean Team created a KM Plan for their area and KM also worked to introduce Lean principles in what we were doing.
I hope this is useful. I end with the same point I started with, which is as part of stakeholder management to find out which key professional disciplines need to be engaged with, and then meet with them in a careful and open way mindful of any past learning while at the time making no strong assumptions based on previous experience