The 2 factors that determine the size of KM teams

The size of KM teams depends on the size of the organisation, and the maturity of the KM program.

Yesterday I talked about the need to put your A-team onto the KM implementation program, and discussed some of the skills you need on the team. What I did not discuss was how large that team should be.

I published some statistics on this in 2015 based on our global KM survey in 2014. We conducted a second run of the same survey in 2017 and so have some additional data, with now 596 responses from knowledge managers around the world. The updated plot below shows that the size of the central KM team is controlled by two factors, described below. (There will be other KM roles in the organisation, and this plot does not reflect all KM professionals; just the central implementation and coordination team).

The first factor is the size of the organisation. Larger organisations have bigger teams, but not proportionally to their size, and an increase in organisational size of a factor of 10 is not associated with a similar increase in KM team size. There is an economy of scale here, and the size of the central team remains similar across all organisational sizes. What seems to change instead is the time taken for KM implementation, and a team in a small organisation can implement KM much faster than a team in a large organisation.

The second factor is the maturity of KM in the organisation. Whatever the organisational size, the KM teams in organisations where KM is fully embedded are larger than the teams where KM is still in progress. This is either

  1. Because mature KM requires a larger central team than “in progress” KM, or
  2. Organisations where the KM team is too small do not get to the “fully embedded” stage.

Whatever the reason, this remains a useful plot for organisations to benchmark the size of their central KM team. 

View Original Source (nickmilton.com) Here.

The importance of choosing the A team to run knowledge management

Introducing Knowledge Management to an organisation is a process of massive disruption and change (or at least it should be!). You need your very best team on the job.

One of the most frustrating situations you can face as a consultant is working with an internal KM team that does not have the capacity to deliver. You want to help them, you want them to succeed, they are focused on the right things, but they are just the wrong people.

I am talking here primarily about the team that implements Knowledge Management – that introduces the framework of roles, technologies, processes and governance, and that leads the change to a new way of working. This is a big change process, you as asking people to change their working habits, and to change the way they see the world of work. You are introducing a new order of things and you need the right team to deliver this. You need the A team.

But who are the A team?

The team leader, first and foremost, needs to be a change agent. They need to be a visionary leader, capable of working at the highest levels in the organisation as well as the lowest. They need to be a respected organisational insider; this is a role that cannot be outsourced, as they need to “speak the language”, know the politics, and have the credibility. They need to know enough about KM to translate it into business and customer terminology, but able to back it up with sound KM theory.

The skills of the KM team need to be varied. KM covers the area of overlap between IT, HR (or Learning and Development) and Organizational Practice, and so the team needs a blend of people who can cover these areas. The key skills here are the softer skills. This is what John Keeble, the CKO of Enterprise Oil, said about the make-up of a KM team

“If you look at the team more widely, rather than just the person leading it, far and away the most important things are the interpersonal skills, and we have said whoever we are recruiting anyone for the team, that’s the most important thing. We can teach them the knowledge management skills, they bring their own network with them, but they have got to have the interpersonal skills, because so much of this is about persuasion. You cannot coerce people into sharing their knowledge, you have to be able to entice and cajole and persuade them to do it”

Some of the following skills should be on the team.

Facilitation skills. Most of the KM processes require people working together, and sharing knowledge, on groups, communities or meetings. The quality of dialogue in these meetings is vital, facilitation is key, and the KM team members play important facilitation roles. Secure facilitation training for the team members as soon as you can.

Influencing skills. The knowledge management implementation team has a hard job ahead of them, changing the culture of the organisation, and the soft skills are absolutely core. They will be working very closely with people, often sceptical people, and they need very good influencing, marketing and selling skills. Give them training in this aspect as well.

Coaching and training skills. If the aim of the team is to introduce new behaviours and practices to the organisation, they will need people skilled in training, coaching and mentoring. Look for people with skills as change agents and business coaches. One or more people with a training background should be on the team.

Writing skills. The processes of knowledge capture and packaging are in some ways very akin to journalism. Interviewing, group interviewing (e.g. Retrospects), analysis, summary, write-up, presentation, are all part of the stock-in-trade of journalists. Make sure there is at least one person on the team with journalistic or writing skills, and preferably more than one.

Communication skills. The early stages of implementing knowledge management are all about raising awareness, and “selling” the idea. The team needs at least one person who is skilled at presenting and marketing. This person will also be kept busy raising the profile of the company’s KM and Best Practice activities at external conferences.

Technology skills. The team needs at least one person who is aware of the details of the current in-house technology, the potential of technology as an enabler for knowledge management, and who can help define the most appropriate technologies to introduce to the organisation. However do not staff the whole team with techies (this is one of the two common unbalanced teams – the team of techies).

Library and information science skills. Your team needs at least one person who can look after the issues of information management as it applies to documented knowledge, and who can take care of the organisational aspects of taxonomies, databases etc. However do not staff the whole team with librarians (this is the other common scenario of the unbalanced KM teams – the team comprised entirely of librarians).

The organizational backgrounds of the core team need to be varied. The team will be attempting to change behaviour and embed knowledge management into the business process across a large part of the organisation (or indeed the whole organisation). Ideally the team should contain people with good and credible backgrounds in each major organisational subdivision. This is really to establish as much credibility as possible. When members of the team are working with business projects, they want to be seen as “part of the business”, not “specialists from head office who know nothing about this sector of the business”. They have to be able to “talk the language” of the business – they need to be able to communicate in technical language and business language. They act as Best Practice champions within their area of business, and when the working team is over, may take a leading Knowledge Management role in their subsidiary.

The members of the team will also need to be passionate about the topic. The team members must be seen to be personally committed to best practice and knowledge management if they are to retain credibility. They need training in the skills and theories of Knowledge Management and Best Practice transfer, and need access to books, conferences and forums on the topic They must be enthusiastic about applying knowledge management tools and techniques in their own business, and to their own work, in service of improving their own performance.

Finding such people is not easy, but changing the culture of an organisation is not easy either. With the wrong people on the team, you don’t get the right result, even with the best consultants in the world to support you. However …

With the right team, the right leader, and the right approach, absolutely anything can be done, and Knowledge Management implementation will be assured.

View Original Source (nickmilton.com) Here.

Which 5 skills do you need on your KM team?

There are five key skills you need on a KM team, no matter what sort of organisation you are.

Image from ROverhate (pixabay.com) via needpix

Implementing Knowledge Management needs attention to many things – to People, Process and Technology, to Governance, Change Management, to Collecting knowledge and Connecting people, and to integrating KM activity into the work practices and working styles of the organisation. To this end, 5 skillsets are key to have on your team.

These are as follows:

  • You need Information technology skills. Technology is one of the 4 legs on the KM table, and you need someone on your team to help define the technology needs, act as informed buyer for any new technology, and help staff understand and work with the KM tools; whether these are as simple as a community of practice forum, or as complex as AI and big data;
  • You need information management and library skills. Part of the knowledge of the organisation will be documented, and needs to be managed in the forum of documents, You need someone on the team who can work with the IM team and ensure that the interests of KM are represented as part of the organisations IM efforts, and who can bring an IM mind to bear on the documented knowledge bases; 
  • You need facilitation skills. Many of the KM processes involve conversation and dialogue, and this needs careful facilitation. Undocumented knowledge is handled through conversation, and facilitation skills are needed to ensure these conversations are productive and focused;
  • You need change management skills. Implementing KM is a change management exercise, and these skills are vital to run your communication strategy and program (among other tasks),
  • Finally you need the basic skills of the organisation itself (legal skills for legal firms, military skills for military organisations, and so on).  You have to be able to translate KM into “organisational language” and organisational practice. This is vital. You need people on the team who represent the core skills of the organisation. 

According to our KM survey, these skillsets are common across all sectors, although prioritisation varies.

  • Legal KM teams prioritise Organisational (Legal) skills and IM skills, often to the exclusion of all other skills;
  • Oil and Gas KM team prioritise Facilitation skills;
  • Professional services firms prioritise IM skills;
  • Information Media and Telecoms firms prioritise IT skills

However even though prioritisation changes, we can probably treat these five skills as the core skillset of a KM team.

Check your own KM team. Are any of these skills missing?

View Original Source (nickmilton.com) Here.

10 tasks for the KM team when KM implementation is complete

When KM implementation is over, the KM team still has a job of work to do

Implementing Knowledge Management is a long project of culture change, and the introduction of a new management framework (roles, processes, technologies, governance).  The Knowledge Management team’s initial role is to design and introduce the framework, delivering the required changes in behaviour and culture.

Once that job is done, what role does the KM team have?

Some people say that once this job is done and Knowledge Management is fully embedded into the business, you can disband the team, but that isn’t the case.

Once Safety Management is embedded do you disband the Safety team? Once Quality Management is embedded, do you disband the Quality team? No; you retain them, because they still have a key role to play and without them playing that role, Quality performance or Safety performance would revert to pre-change levels. The same would happen to KM.

Here are 10 key elements of that continuing role for the KM team.

  1. They need to support usage of the framework. This includes training people in its use, coaching the KM professionals, running the KM CoP, launching other CoPs, building the knowledge asset about Knowledge Management.
  2. They need to monitor and report on the application of the framework. This includes checking compliance with the KM policy and expectations, measuring the application of lesson learning, tracking value added through communities , auditing the management level of key knowledge assets, measuring the maturity of key CoPs, collecting results of any KM Dashboards or scorecards. Then reporting a summary of these metrics to senior management.
  3. They need to coordinate any KM recognition activity. This includes running annual awards schemes, for example, or finding other ways to recognise the star performers, as well as finding ways to deal with the people who refuse to engage with KM.
  4. They need to continue to keep the profile of Km high, through communications campaigns or KM focus weeks.
  5. They need to continuously improve the KM framework. This may include improving the company KM policy, bringing in or improving the existing, technology, or adapting the processes and roles;
  6. They will be in charge of testing the KM Framework against international standards such as ISO 30401:2018;
  7. If new KM technology is needed, the KM team will manage the process of technology requirements definition, and managing a vendor tendering process
  8. They may take on specialist roles themselves, such as lessons management, or major lessons capture, development of KM plans for major projects, and big Retention exercises.
  9. Indeed, if your Knowledge Management strategy is a Retention strategy, the KM team may run the Retention process (planning, prioritising, interviewing etc)
  10. The KM team will act as client for any outsourced KM services.

The KM team has a job of work still to do – to manage, maintain and continuously improve the KM Framework – and these 10 tasks form the core of their work.

View Original Source (nickmilton.com) Here.

10 things a KM champion needs to understand

Here are ten things a KM Champion needs to understand in order to do their job well.

Image from wikimedia commons

Understand your role
Discuss this with the KM team until you have a clear idea what your role as Champion entails. It may contain elements such as the following:

  • Development of KM strategy for your part of the business 
  • Deployment of a KM Framework (Roles, processes, technology and governance)
  • Promotion of KM behaviours and culture (Communication, Support, Coaching and Facilitation) 
  • Measurement and reporting of KM Activity and benefits

Understand your stakeholders
Find out what management need from KM, what you need from them, and the value proposition for management. Also find out what the knowledge workers need from KM, what you need from them, and what their value proposition is.

Understand your scope of work
What is in scope, and what is out of scope?

Understand the critical knowledge
Find out the critical knowledge for your part of the business, so you can focus only on the most valuable knowledge – the 20% of knowledge that will make 80% of the difference.

  • Is it new knowledge, where the focus is on rapid learning? 
  • Is it knowledge spread among many people, where the focus is on sharing good practice? 
  • Is it old knowledge which should be standardised? 
  • Is it knowledge of an expert, which should be captured?

Understand the KM Framework 
This is the framework of roles, processes, technology and governance that defines how knowledge will be managed in your organisation. You need to make sure you understand this completely, as this is what you will be trying to implement in your own project, department or division.

Understand the core KM tools and processes
You need to understand these, as you will be coaching people in their use, and facilitating some of the processes. These will include:

  • Tools and technologies for knowledge discussion, such as Peer Assist, Knowledge Exchange, and community forums 
  • Knowledge capture tools and processes such as After Action review, Retrospect,  lesson management systems and blogs   
  • Knowledge synthesis tools and processes, such as Knowledge asset creation and update, knowledge article creation and update, wikis and knowledge bases,.
  • Knowledge access and re-use tools and processes such as KM planning, and the use of search tools and people-finders.
  • Knowledge creation tools and processes, such as Deep Dive. 

Understand communities of practice
If communities of practice are included in your KM Framework then you need to understand how these work, and the roles, processes and technologies involved.

Understand the issues of implementing KM in your part of the organisation
Understand the barriers to KM and how to overcome them, and the enablers you can use. Understand the use of pilot projects and “proof of concept” activity.

Understand how to sell KM, and react to objections
Understand the influencing techniques you can use, and the use of social proof, in selling the concept of KM internally.

Understand KM Governance
This includes the elements of KM expectation, metrics and rewards, and support. Governance is the issue that will be most powerful in reinforcing KM behaviours, and you need to be able to explain your stakeholders how it works.

Contact Knoco for help in developing your understanding further. 

View Original Source (nickmilton.com) Here.

To which department should KM report?

Where is the best place for Knowledge Management in an organisation?

This is a common question in the early stages of a Knowledge Management implementation program.

It also sometimes arises later on; if you start KM with a temporary task force reporting at a high level, then when KM becomes operational you need to find an organisational home for the ongoing support team.

KM can report anywhere

First let’s look at where KM actually does report. The figures below are from 540 responses to our 2014 and 2017 surveys (with duplicates removed)

reporting line number percent
Separate reporting line to senior management 115 21%
Operations 66 12%
Information Technology 50 9%
Strategy 44 8%
Learning and development 35 6%
Human Resources 22 4%
Projects 20 4%
R&D 18 3%
Business improvement 18 3%
Innovation 16 3%
Quality 13 2%
Sales and Marketing 10 2%
Engineering 9 2%
Legal 8 1%
Internal communications 8 1%
Other (please specify) 88 16%

The most common reporting line is a separate line to senior management, which is typical in the early stages of KM. The second biggest category is the “Other” category, which includes categories such as 
Science Group; volunteers and strategy; Fire & Incident Management ; Finance; Planning and evaluation ; Innovation and academic development; Standards and studies; Dirección de Estudios; Knowledge and Information Services; Education Research; Business Systems; Strategy, innovation and risk management; Policy analysis & Research; Corporate Services; Naac; Management Development Department; Quality and Operation department; HR and Engineering dept/division; Client Experience; Supply Chain; Customer Support;Corporate; Health and Wellbeing Division; Central Services – Information Management; Customer operations director;  Corporate Services; I answer to the Service Line Leader; Future Business; Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability and Learning; Corporate University; Distributed model – embedded within organizations; Sport Science and Medicine Director; Education and quality; HSE….; Consumer Market Insights and Business Intelligence teams ;  Directly to the Portfolio Management, KM and strategic projects team; Services; Information Technology + Business transformation program.

So based on common practice, KM can report anywhere, and it probably should report in the place where it makes most sense – where the knowledge issues will deliver the largest value, where the business demand is greatest, and where you have the most powerful advocacy.  
However here are some things to look out for in the various scenarios shown below.

Issues and risks

Reporting separately to senior management is ideal in the early stages, but KM support will eventually need to be embedded somewhere, in a part of the organisation you know is going to survive in the long term. Being a separate item makes you vulnerable, even though it may give you high level access.
Reporting to strategy is an excellent option, as it keeps KM strategic. Maybe some of the tactical issues of KM might suffer, but I would rather lose the tactical aspects than the strategic aspects.
Reporting to operations is a good option (or to Projects, in the case of a project-based organisation), as it avoids KM being seen as a support function, and keeps KM grounded in the operational needs of the firm. However remember the four legs on the KM table – People, Process, Technology and Governance? An operational focus may emphasise process over People and technology. You will need to interface closely with HR and IT.
Reporting to IT is possible, but you have to take EXTREME care that KM does not become seen as a technology exercise, and that people, process and governance are equally well developed. You will need to interface closely with HR and Operations.
Reporting to HR or L&D is possible, but you have to take EXTREME care that KM does not become seen as a people issue, or another branch of training. Make sure that the technology, process and governance sides receive equal attention. You will need to interface closely with IT and Operations.

KM can report almost anywhere, depending on operational need. However make sure that no matter where it reports, equal attention is paid to the four main enablers of KM, to ensure a complete and balanced approach.

View Original Source Here.

The most important skill on your KM team

There are many skills needed on your KM team, but one is more important than any of the others.

I have been involved in a few overview visits to Knowledge Management programs recently, and a common factor in all of them has been a missing skill within the Knowledge Management teams themselves.

One team, reporting to the HR function, was staffed with people with HR backgrounds, and as a result was focusing on KM as it relates to succession planning and staff development. Another, reporting to the research department, was staffed by researchers and analysts. All were understaffed, and all lacked members with an operational background.

It is those operational skills that are most important in a KM team.

There is point in having all the HR skills, all the IT skills or all the IM or facilitation or change management skills, if you cannot translate your Knowledge Management message into the operational context of the organisation, and if you have no credibility with the operational staff.  Our 2014 survey of Knowledge Management showed “Operational Skills” as the highest ranked KM team skill (see the graph above).

Therefore

  • a KM team in a legal firm needs to contain lawyers
  • a KM team in an automotive manufacturer needs to contain engineers
  • a KM team in a financial institution needs to contain financiers and economists
  • a KM team in an Oil Company needs to contain drillers and geologists
  • and so on
The role of these staff on the team is to ensure that the realities of day to day work are brought into the Knowledge Management program, that the language of KM is translated into the language of operations, and that the Knowledge Management Framework will ultimately add value to the knowledge workers.

That’s why Operational skills and experience is the most important skillset for your Knowledge Management team

View Original Source Here.

Who do you need on the KM team?

Here are 4 key skill areas you must not ignore when putting together your Knowledge Management implementation team.

Image from wikimedia commons

You know the four enablers of People, Process, Technology and Governance? What we call the four legs on the KM table?

These four areas should be reflected in the people and skills you choose to drive Knowledge Management implementation.

KM covers the area of overlap between IT, HR (or Learning and Development), Organizational Process and Management, and so the KM implementation team needs a blend of people who can cover these areas. So we need the following skills on the KM implementation team

People Skills
If the aim of the KM team is to introduce new behaviours and practices to the organisation, they will need people skilled in training, coaching and mentoring. Look for people with skills as change agents and business coaches. One or more people with a training background should be on the task force.

The knowledge management implementation task force has a hard job ahead of them, changing the culture of the organisation. They will be working very closely with people, often sceptical people, and they need very good influencing and facilitation skills. Secure facilitation training for the task force members.

The early stages of implementing knowledge management are all about raising awareness, and “selling” the idea. The KM team needs at least one person who is skilled at presenting, communicating and marketing. This person will also be kept busy raising the profile of the company’s KM and Best Practice activities at external conferences.

Process skills
The team need experience and skills in the operational processes of the business.  The KM team should contain people with good and credible backgrounds and skills in each major organisational subdivision. This is really to establish as much credibility as possible. When members of the task force are working with business projects, they want to be seen as “part of the business”, not “specialists from head office who know nothing about this sector of the business”. They have to be able to “talk the language” of the business – they need to be able to communicate in technical language and business language. They act as Best Practice champions within their area of business, and when the working task force is over, may take a leading Knowledge Management role in their subsidiary.

Technology skills.
The KM team needs at least one person who has strengths in the details of the current in-house technology, understands the potential of new technology as an enabler for knowledge management, and can help define the most appropriate technologies to introduce to the organisation.

Governance skills.
Finally the Km team needs a person who can look at KM from a high level – who can understand how it fits into the governance systems of the organisation, and twho can work at a high level to introduce the policy changes and the governance systems that are vital to the long term survival of KM. This person can be the KM team leder, or even the executive sponsor.

If the KM Table has 4 legs, then make sure there are people on the team with enough skills to look after each leg, to  make sure your final framework is sturdy and sound.

View Original Source Here.