12 Steps to KM Success

Stan Garfield

Stan Garfield

August 06, 2020
Here are 12 steps to follow when starting a knowledge management program. Details of steps 1 and 5 have been covered in previous posts, and the rest will be covered in subsequent posts.

1. Learn about the field of knowledge management, build expertise in it, and seek outside help. This is will allow you to learn from the experience of others, reuse the best ideas, and avoid the usual pitfalls.

2. Identify the top 3 objectives for the program, focusing on meeting the biggest needs of the organization. List the challenges and opportunities your KM program will address. These objectives align business direction with program goals.

3. Gain the sponsorship, commitment, and active support of senior leadership. There are ten commitments from the leader of your organization that will enable your KM strategy to be implemented.

4. Answer nine questions about people, process, and technology. Determine who will participate in the program, which basic processes will be required, and how tools will support the people and processes.

5. Articulate your vision. You must be able to passionately describe the end-state vision for your program. What does KM look like when it’s working? Establish a vision for how knowledge management should work, and relentlessly work towards making that vision a reality.

6. Define the KM strategy. These are specific actions that will be taken to implement the program.

7. Define compelling use cases with clear advantages over existing alternatives. Don’t talk about adoption or rollout of a tool. Talk about the advantages of using it over existing alternatives.

8. Define the KM program governance. This includes:

  • Roles and job descriptions for KM leaders, project leaders, and knowledge assistants.
  • Composition of program staff, virtual teams, and KM communities.
  • Objectives and schedules for recurring conference calls and meetings.
  • Processes for creating and updating the plan of record and schedules for implementation, new releases, and reporting.
  • Process for decision making.

9. Specify the desired modes of knowledge flow.

  • Collection: processes and repositories for capturing explicit knowledge.
  • Connection: collaboration, communities, and social networks for sharing tacit knowledge.
  • Boundary spanning: bridges across organizational boundaries for enabling knowledge to flow between previously isolated groups.
  • Discovery: processes for learning from existing sources of information, including systems, databases, and libraries.
  • Creation: processes for stimulating innovation and facilitating invention. 

10. Select and implement people, process, and technology components using knowledge management specialties such as information architecture, design thinking, user experience, and agile development. Create implementation plans for key components such as training, communications, and change management.

11. Innovate key KM processes and tools to implement the strategy and achieve the vision. Seek user feedback and continuously implement, iterate, and improve.

12. Share achievements and ideas with others, solicit feedback on your program, and reuse the proven practices of other programs. Pay it forward, meaning that if you help people with their KM efforts, they in turn will help others, achieving a virtuous circle.

Stan Garfield

Stan Garfield

Please read Stan’s additional blog posts offering advice and insights drawn from many years as a KM practitioner. And learn about Lucidea’s Inmagic Presto, with KM capabilities to support successful knowledge management programs.

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