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31 March 2007

Dave Pollard's "KM quick wins" against my "organizational cultures not conducive to knowledge-sharing"

Dave Pollard recently posted the following on his still amazing weblog: Knowledge Management: Finding Quick Wins and Long Term Value.
First, do read it. Then, consider the association I have made below between his list of quick wins and longer-term programs, and my list of cultural traits hindering knowledge-sharing (http://leveragingknowledge.blogspot.com/2007/03/organizational-cultures-not-conducive_20.html#links ):

Six 'Quick Win, Low Hanging Fruit' KM Projects.

1. Make it easy for your people to identify and connect with subject matter experts.
This deals with:
7. Lack of Awareness of internal knowledge.
And even maybe in a more medium-term with:
4. Organizational silos that do not (or poorly) communicate/collaborate.

2. Help people manage the content and organization of their desktop.
3. Help people identify and use the most appropriate communication tool.
4. Make it easy for people to publish their knowledge and subscribe to the information they want.
These three quick-wins help people be more efficient so could help with:
8. Lack of Availability of internal knowledge.
The quick-win no.4 also deals with the cultural traits 4 and 7 above.

5. Create a facility for just-in-time canvassing for information.
6. Teach people how to do research, not just search.
These last two quick-wins again deal with the same three traits above (nos 4, 7 and 8).

Six Longer-Term Big Payoff KM Programs.

a. Make your information professionals anthropologists.
This program will have a similar impact to most of the quick-win above. It will further help in making people more effective and efficient and at connecting with one another, so will help with:
7. Lack of Awareness of internal knowledge.
8. Lack of Availability of internal knowledge.
4. Organizational silos that do not (or poorly) communicate/collaborate.

b. Embed intelligence in systems, processes and tools.
I think the only trait this effectiveness/efficiency improvement program helps with is:
8. Lack of Availability of internal knowledge.

c. Teach your information professionals to be sense-making specialists.
This program focuses on the information professionals and for them will help with:
15. Modesty resulting from lack of encouragement.
11. Job Description framing.
8. Lack of Availability of internal knowledge.

d. Use knowledge to drive innovation.
With open-minded top-executives, this program could maybe help with:
16. Top-executives misunderstanding KM challenges.
If innovation is rewarded then this program would also indirectly help with:
3. Reward achievements of each individual based solely on personal objectives.
And it could also drive the insertion of "being innovative" through "collaboration/knowledge-sharing" in job definitions so helping with:
11. Job Description framing.

e. Canvass the wisdom of crowds.
This programs helps with the following traits:
8. Lack of Availability of internal knowledge.
1. A strictly hierarchical top-down structure.
13. Only money talks.

f. Collect, and attract people to use, stories and anecdotes.
At first, I thought this one would not relate to any of my traits but it does. This program would help making people feel more comfortable in sharing their knowledge; in fact, some would share knowledge without realizing how valuable it can be to others. Therefore this one helps with the following two traits:
14. Perfectionism resulting from fear of being wrong.
15. Modesty resulting from lack of encouragement.

I have managed to associate 10 of the 16 cultural traits to Dave’s 12 quick-wins and longer-term programs. It’s good and I would certainly agree that all these initiatives would move an organization, or more precisely some of its collaborators, in the right direction. However, the six “anti-knowledge-sharing” cultural traits left-out are significant in my view. Dave’s approach is based on the principles of Personal KM and, as I already wrote (http://leveragingknowledge.blogspot.com/2006/11/personal-knowledge-management.html#links) I do not believe you can sufficiently change an organizational culture with only a bottom-up approach. The only initiative in Dave’s list that attempts to initiate a top-down change is the program (d) about using knowledge to drive innovation. I did loosely associate it to the trait relating to top-executives misunderstanding KM. This is because within a culture not conducive to knowledge-sharing, you will need more than that to have your top-executives truly understand and support KM. You could be told: “We are innovative already and we must be using knowledge in the process, so we’re fine, no need of KM”.

Using Dave’s quick-wins and some of his programs can surely help drawing the attention of top-executives. With a few influential sponsors on-board, you could then hope to tackle all the non-conducive cultural traits including the other six such as 5. Lack of trust, 6. Internal politics, 9. Too much pride or 2. Reward achievements of each individual based solely on personal objectives. So PKM will help but will not succeed on its’ own if the goal is a deep and lasting cultural change.

Peter-Anthony Glick

http://leveragingknowledge.blogspot.com

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