Although it’s possible to implement a knowledge management program without the support of top leadership, it’s much more likely to succeed if you have it. This post provides details on the type of support to enlist from your executives.
Gain the sponsorship of your senior executive through the 10 Commitments. These commitments from the leader of your organization will enable knowledge management to be implemented and demonstrate that your organization thoroughly supports the KM program.
You need to get the top leader of your organization to sponsor the program you intend to launch. The best way to do this is to create a springboard story to motivate the leadership team, using narrative to ignite action and implement your new ideas.
Look for a successful case of sharing, innovating, reusing, collaborating, or learning that can serve as a good example of what should become institutionalized. Start by looking within your organization, then to other organizations within your enterprise, and finally to other enterprises. What you need is a simple example of how a KM approach was applied to one of the challenges or opportunities in your Top 3 Objectives list with the desired results.
Tell this springboard story to the senior executive and the leadership team. If you get a positive response, then present the Top 3 Objectives to prove that you have done your homework and are prepared to proceed upon approval.
Ask the senior executive to agree to the following:
- Approve a reasonable budget for people and other KM expenses. You will need money and staff to launch and run the program.
- Ensure that all KM leaders have the time to do a good job in the role and are allowed to meet in person once a year. The KM team will need assurances that they will be allowed the time they need and the ability to get together to build trust.
- Learn how to give a KM program overview presentation. If the senior executive is familiar with the details of the program, this will reinforce its importance.
- Learn how to use KM tools and use them to lead by example. To offer more than lip service in support of the program, show everyone how easy it is to actually use the processes and technology.
- Communicate regularly about how the organization is doing in KM. It should be on the agenda for all meetings, con calls, and webcasts.
- Provide time during leadership team meetings and employee communication events for KM messages. The other leaders need to be reminded regularly of the importance of KM in achieving the organization’s goals.
- Ensure that KM goals are really set for all employees and are enforced. It’s not sufficient to communicate goals in a high-level message. They need to actually be assigned, monitored, and achieved.
- Inspect compliance to KM goals with the same fervor as for other key performance indicators. If KM indicators are reviewed along with the usual business metrics, it will be clear that they are just as important.
- Reward employees who share, innovate, reuse, learn, and collaborate. Rewarding desired behaviors provides positive reinforcement, offers motivation, and communicates to everyone how such behaviors are valued.
- Ensure that time is allowed for sharing, innovating, reusing, collaborating, and learning. Part of establishing a knowledge sharing culture is allowing time for the necessary activities.
If you don’t get approval of the 10 Commitments, you will need to revisit the earlier steps. Return with a more compelling Top 3 Objectives list or a better springboard story.
If you do gain the approval of the senior executive, you need to ensure that the commitments are kept. To do so, take the following actions:
- Submit a reasonable budget for people and other KM expenses.
- Submit a proposal for the first annual meeting.
- Schedule an event at which the senior executive will give the KM program overview presentation.
- Subscribe the senior executive to an appropriate threaded discussion and ask them to post or reply to a question.
- Prepare a communication to be distributed to all members of the organization.
- Request time during a leadership team meeting and the next employee communication event for a KM message to be presented.
- Prepare a communication setting KM goals for all employees.
- Request that the organization’s balanced scorecard or equivalent performance indicator reporting be updated to include compliance to KM goals.
- Submit a proposal for a recognition program to reward employees who share, innovate, reuse, collaborate, and learn.
- Prepare a document defining how time is allowed and can be reported for sharing, innovating, reusing, collaborating, and learning.
Then follow up periodically to update these actions as required. If the senior executive is replaced with a new one, you will need to spend time educating them, cultivating a good relationship, and renewing the 10 Commitments.
Knowledge managers must define the KM strategy, with specific actions taken to implement the program and achieve the top 3 objectives.
Planning a KM initiative includes determining who will participate, which processes and tools are required, and how tools should be integrated.
Starting a KM program includes defining participants and roles, which basic processes are required, and how tools should support people and processes.
KM guru Stan Garfield provides specific examples of challenges and opportunities and how to turn them into knowledge management program objectives.