Methodologies are policies, rules, techniques, and procedures that prescribe how work is to be performed and provide proven ways to do it successfully.
Once a process has been used successfully to accomplish a desired result, it can be codified to allow it to be repeated. In some cases, reusing the process is so beneficial that it is becomes a prescribed policy which must be followed. Policies define what tasks must be followed in specific situations, and procedures provide the details on how these tasks are to be performed. In other cases, useful processes are included in a collection of standard methods and templates that are provided to all those who perform similar work.
Rules define specific actions that are required, allowed, and not allowed in the context of implementing a process. Rules of thumb are insights about how to accomplish a task based on practical experience.
Techniques are methods which have been found to work to elicit information, perform analysis, solve problems, and take action in a particular area of practice.
An extensive repository of methodologies, collected both from internal and external sources, can provide users with process tools to help them do their jobs more effectively. Examples of methodologies include:
16 KM Methodologies
Of special interest are methodologies for KM. The field of knowledge management has a wide variety of techniques which can be used by practitioners.
Using the knowledge management techniques listed below allows knowledge managers to offer practical ways of assisting others in the organization to take advantage of their knowledge. Following are 16 examples of KM methodologies:
- After Action Review is a tool pioneered by the US army and now widely used in a range of organizations to capture lessons learned both during and after an activity or project. After Action Review (AAR) is a structured review or debrief process for analyzing what happened, why it happened, and how it can be done better by the participants and those responsible for the project or event. After Action Reviews are now widely used to capture lessons learned both during and after an activity or project. After Action Review is an assessment conducted after a project or major activity that allows employees and leaders to discover (learn) what happened and why. It may be thought of as a professional discussion of an event that enables employees to understand why things happened during the progression of the process and to learn from that experience.
- Checklist is a job aid used to reduce failure by compensating for potential limits of human memory and attention. It helps to ensure consistency and completeness in carrying out a task.
- Delphi Method is a group decision process about the likelihood that certain events will occur. It is a method for structuring a group communication process so that the process is effective in allowing a group of individuals, as a whole, to deal with a complex problem.
- Exit Interview is a tool used to capture the knowledge of departing employees. Many firms conduct exit interviews, but these are usually focused purely on personnel factors. Exit Interviews can be part of a KM strategy and have knowledge capture as their focus.
- Knowledge Audit is a systematic process to identify an organization’s knowledge needs, resources and flows, as a basis for understanding where and how better knowledge management can add value. Knowledge Audit is a formal determination and evaluation of how and where knowledge is used in business processes. It identifies implicit user needs and explicit information stores to evaluate all information resources and workflows, and determine enterprise user access requirements. It is a rigorous process using questionnaires, interviews and resource descriptions. It helps the audited unit determine what it knows, who knows what, what it does not know, what it needs to know, and how it should improve the management of its current knowledge.
- Knowledge Harvesting is a tool used to capture the knowledge of experts and make it available to others. Knowledge Harvesting converts expertise into knowledge assets. The organization can be protected from expensive personnel losses and defections, and from the unavailability of expertise when and where needed. A Retention Interview can be used for this.
- Knowledge Mapping is a process to help discover the location, ownership, value and use of knowledge; to learn the roles and expertise of people; to identify constraints to the flow of knowledge; and to highlight opportunities to leverage existing knowledge. It presents what knowledge resides where (e.g., people, media, organizational units, or sources of knowledge outside the organization) and demonstrates the patterns of knowledge flow.
- Knowledge Modeling is a process of creating a computer-interpretable model of knowledge or standard specifications about a kind of process, facility, or product. It is a cross-disciplinary approach to capture and model knowledge into a reusable format for purpose of preserving, improving, sharing, substituting, aggregating and reapplying it.
- Mind Maps were developed by Tony Buzan as a way of helping students make notes that used only key words and images. They are much quicker to make, and because of their visual quality much easier to remember and review. The non-linear nature of mind maps makes it easy to link and cross-reference different elements of the map.
- Most Significant Change is a monitoring and evaluation technique used for evaluating complex interventions, based on a qualitative, participatory approach, with stakeholders involved in all aspects of the evaluation. It involves the generation of significant change stories by various stakeholders involved in the intervention – the more significant of these stories are then selected by the stakeholders and in depth discussions of these stories take place. Most Significant Change is the collection of significant change stories emanating from the field level, and the systematic selection of the most significant of these stories by panels of designated stakeholders or staff. The designated staff and stakeholders are initially involved by searching for project impact. Once changes have been captured, various people sit down together, read the stories aloud and have regular and often in-depth discussions about the value of these reported changes. When the technique is implemented successfully, whole teams of people begin to focus their attention on program impact.
- Peer Assist is a tool developed at BP-Amoco used to learn from the experiences of others before embarking on an activity or project. A peer assist brings together a group of peers to elicit feedback on a problem, project, or activity, and to draw lessons from the participants’ knowledge and experience. Peer Assist is a one to two day facilitated meeting involving two groups of professionals: a team that is trying to deal with the critical business issue, and a team of subject matter or domain experts whose knowledge and experience can be tapped. The ability of the Peer Assist to tap into new expertise makes it a valuable tool that yields immediate insights and results.
- Prediction Markets are speculative markets created for the purpose of making predictions. Contracts are created whose final value is tied to a particular event or outcome. The current market prices can then be interpreted as predictions of the probability of the event or the expected value of the parameter. In Workers, Place Your Bets, Rachael King wrote, “More corporations are setting up their own markets for economic forecasts, hoping to tap into the wisdom of employees.”
- Retrospect is a structured and facilitated knowledge capture meeting at the end of a project, involving as many of the project team as possible. It is a quick and effective way of capturing knowledge before a team disbands. If a member from the next team to undertake a similar business challenge participates in the discussion, a retrospect for one team can serve as a peer assist for the next one.
- Ritual Dissent is a workshop method designed to test and enhance proposals, stories, or ideas by subjecting them to dissent (challenge) or assent (positive alternatives). It is a forced listening technique, not a dialogue or discourse.
- Sensemaking is a process of creating situational awareness and understanding in situations of high complexity or uncertainty in order to make decisions. It is a motivated, continuous effort to understand connections (which can be among people, places, and events) in order to anticipate their trajectories and act effectively.
- World Café is an intentional way to create a living network of conversation around questions that matter. It is a creative process for leading collaborative dialogue, sharing knowledge, and creating possibilities for action in groups of all sizes.
For other methodologies, see KM Method Cards by Patrick Lambe.
Please enjoy Stan’s additional blog posts offering advice and insights drawn from many years as a KM practitioner. You may also want to download a copy of his book, Proven Practices for Implementing a Knowledge Management Program, from Lucidea Press. And learn about Lucidea’s Inmagic Presto and SydneyEnterprise with KM capabilities to support successful knowledge curation and sharing.
Creating new knowledge is not simple or intuitive, but for knowledge managers it is worth perfecting because the potential benefits are significant.
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