Right now (March 2020), hopefully, your KM Program is helping people adjust to remote work. Helping them use the collaboration tools that maybe they’ve only used occasionally before. Helping them facilitate engaging, creative online meetings . But once the initial panic subsides and people become more accustomed to working remotely, what next?
Lots of organisations have KM programs that focus on the traditional KM activities, things like lessons learned, communities of practice, collaboration; activities that support learning and creating new knowledge, or managing and sharing knowledge that already exists. My ex-HP colleague, Stan Garfield, published a list/ presentation of all the things that can comprise a KM program, you can find his list here. It’s a good list, especially if you are new to the world of KM.
When KM is done well, it is pretty invisible. Nobody really thinks about it, and that’s okay, until, it isn’t. Do you have a KM program that is invisible or non-existent? Maybe this is the first time you’ve thought about KM, or maybe you have an existing KM program that is looking to evolve. If you are wondering about the future of your KM program, read on, if not, you can stop now.
Things are shifting at an accelerated pace and also, somehow slowing down; things are chaotic, to say the least. How do we manage that chaos and come through it better off? How do the skills and abilities that exist within the KM Program and those activities help an organisation come through our current, chaotic situation and not just survive, but thrive afterwards, and maybe even during?
How can the KM program help?
KM programs that are successful are about learning, and adapting; they use people, process, and technology to support the organisation in effectively and efficiently using its knowledge and creating new knowledge.
How do those skills apply in this situation, how can the KM program facilitate the successful navigation of the current crisis and help the organisation adapt so that it is ready for what comes after?
What does come after? Do we go back to the way things were? Are things permanently changed?
No one really knows, although lots of people have guesses, and there’s lots of wishful thinking out there. It probably won’t be “business as usual”, but what exactly it will be is anyone’s guess, and depends exactly what happens during this period and how long it goes on.
So, how does the KM program help? What skills and abilities can they share and help others develop that can help.
In my experience, people who are successful in KM are often good at these knowledge culture behaviours:
• sharing openly
• willingness to teach, mentor, coach
• ideas can be freely challenged
• knowledge and ideas can come from other sources (e.g. other departments, organisations, and industries)
• sharing comes through many different means: conversations, meetings, processes, best practices, data bases, and questioning
How can these behaviours be taught, if people don’t exhibit them already?
Well, there are lots of different ways people might learn the things that give them the ability to exhibit these behaviours, some of them are learned when we are children (like learning to share) and stick with us, and others are learned and then forgotten as life progresses and evolves. As adults, how do we remember these behaviours or maybe even learn them for the first time?
The best way is to learn through doing, having the experience or insight ourselves, in a safe, supportive environment.
A group of people who often exhibit many of these behaviours and who are experts at working alone, but also collaborating to get things done, when they need to, are artists.
Artists have an attitude of curiosity, passion, confidence, and resilience, which they refine and hone through their artistic practice: perceiving, reflecting, playing, and performing.
KM Programs should be working with HR and management to help develop these skills and abilities in their staff. Why KM? Because it’s about knowledge creation, it’s about sharing and learning: that’s KM.
Learning these skills and applying them to business problems helps solve problems that may have, at one time, seemed intractable. It helps to develop solutions that are new and innovative.
Other businesses are doing this, have learned this already, isn’t it time your organisation did too, so that you can come out of this crisis ready for whatever is next?
Note: If you want to see/read more about what is possible by adopting an artistic attitude and practice, read, “Creative Company” by Dirk Dobiéy and Thomas Köplin. You can find more info and get a copy, here.