18 May 2006

Seven lessons learned with Knowledge Management initiatives

If a shared information repository contains mostly information that people are used to find elsewhere, you’re wasting your time, it won’t be used.

“[...] make sure the system is easy and comfortable to use – in fact, easier and more comfortable than ignoring the system.” R. Buckman

For an individual (or a group) to contribute information, he/she must expect and obtain at least as much in return.

A deep cultural change in the organization can only succeed with a top-down approach.

Start small with “quick wins” and build on their growing reputation.

Pilot each new solution with welcoming teams and individuals. Keep the most resistant groups for last, they’ll follow when every one else is on board.

The “correct” level of information categorization depends on the tool, on the purpose and on the intended user community: Too much categorization adds unnecessary complexity and stifles creativity; too little leads to unproductive chaos.

Peter-Anthony Glick


At 9:53 AM, Anonymous Han van Loon said...

Hello Peter
Thanks for your interesting blogs. I wanted to comment on one particular aspect - Cultural Change and your lesson: "A deep cultural change in the organization can only succeed with a top-down approach."

I agree that 'deep' cultural change requires the organization's leaders to lead this. In many organizations, this is the executive management, but in flat hierarchies, the leaders may be other people.

It is also possible to initiate culture change in small teams and for that to be beneficial and sustainable. For example, adoption of Agile software methods requires cultural change, and can only be performed in small teams. Their sub-culture is initially shielded in some way from the existing culture so that it can flourish. This is a typical 'modus operandi' in XP. As a coach, part of my role is to foster the change in the team and to also coordinate with managers (some of whom will be sceptical or even hostile) outside the team. As an agile approach starts to benefit the clients, they start to adopt some of the sub-culture's aspects. In effect the culture change is virally propogated. As long there is no strong organizational political opposition by more senior management, the culture change can propogate throughout the organization. If they strongly oppose it, they can stop it.
So I would modify the statement as follows:
"A deep cultural change in the organization can only succeed with the support of top management."


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