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The 8 pillars of a knowledge management strategy

There’s no standard definition of knowledge management and there’s a lack of understanding of what it is and where it fits, or should fit, in an organisation’s management toolset.
In my view, knowledge management is the strategic director of many activities to do with mobilising knowledge throughout an organisation and between the business and its partners and customers.
A knowledge management strategy should be connected to the overall strategy of the business and thought should be given to these 8 areas. Not all of them will fit with your strategy, but there may come a time when they will.
Knowledge auditing – know where your silos and repositories are and what the flow currently looks like.
Document management (or content management) – consider the information architecture for your explicit knowledge early on.
L&D – Map staff development with business goals.
Knowledge operations – This is the part concerned with that mobilisation of knowledge. What methods …

When we don’t know what we know

One of the biggest obstacles organisations have when they introduce a learning and development program for the first time is designing a curriculum. Creating individual content for an e-learning system, for example, can be a daunting exercise—not unlike the writer facing a blank page. Even preparing a new team member with what they need to know can be a challenge when you don’t know what you know. Well, you know what they need to be able to get done, but you may not be able to explain the process or articulate the how or even the why, because the way you get it done has become so automatic that you don’t even think about it. This is called tacit knowledge and it’s what Dave Snowden describes as being the knowledge we don’t know we have until someone asks us the question.

 

Here are some ways you can reveal that tacit knowledge, so …

Investing in mentoring: why it matters

I grew up in the family business of ticketwriting & screenprinting. I went to TAFE to learn foundational skills in calligraphy, brush lettering, and screenprinting, and I spent time in the workshop with my parents showing me how to apply those skills. I was able to build on that learned foundation and they were able to transfer the kind of knowledge that can only be gained from years of hands-on industry and organisation-specific experience, such as why certain decisions were made. Essentially, it was a period of apprenticeship.

Corporate life typically doesn’t work the same way. The closest I’ve experienced to that is double-jacking in a technical support contact centre, allowing me to listen in on calls and learn how to do the job. Peer learning is valuable but it’s targeted to transferring existing process, and you frequently move your pairing relationships around so you can learn multiple perspectives. Like …

Establishing good habits

A knowledge management program is a change management program, and lasting behaviour change needs rewired routines. One of the simplest and most cost-effective ways to reinforce new behaviours is to make those expectations visible with posters in the work area. The Consortium for Service Innovation was smart enough to develop simple and memorable statements to help practitioners remember the activities most critical to the Knowledge Centered Support methodology.

Knowledge Centered Service doesn’t have a big following in Australia, yet, but it’s well-known in IT service management circles, and it’s perfectly suited to support environments like call centres and IT help desks. But KCS is in no way limited to those applications and the fundamental techniques are just good habits for all knowledge workers.
Search early, search often
Most of the time, the answer to any question you have already exists in your organisation or in your knowledge base (if you have one). …

Mentoring

In the first of my KnowTech reports, I am focusing on applications that facilitate formal mentoring programs.
What is mentoring?
Mentoring is a concept we’re all familiar with. We often form a mentor-mentee relationship organically, and it may only be through reflection that you describe an individual as your mentor. Some of us seek out mentors, and some of us are approached to be one. It doesn’t seem to go the other way quite so often, and I think that’s to do with a lack of self-worth and confidence, and perhaps the perception of it being a one-way benefit.

Mentoring is a knowledge management practice from the Growth quadrant. As individuals, when we feel a need to develop our understanding, we look for someone who can guide us there. They’ve been there before and they have a map. (A coach, on the other hand, has a torch and shines it in the direction …

The strategic KM map: a model in progress

There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.
—Donald Rumsfeld
All individual and organisational knowledge falls somewhere on a spectrum. From unknown unknowns, to unknown knowns, to known unknowns, and finally known knowns. When Donald Rumsfeld elevated the concept to public awareness at a press briefing in 2002, he wasn’t presenting an original idea. He had taken a cognitive psychology tool from the 1950s and adapted it for his own means. The tool he drew his inspiration from is called the Johari Window and it was developed by two cognitive psychologists, Luft and Ingham, as a means of creating an individual’s self-awareness.

You can read more at the Wikipedia link about how the tool works in a …

How to keep your knowledge base up to date

Here’s a simple process to help keep your knowledge base in good shape. When it’s in good shape, you’ll be able to take advantage of customer self-service and automated chat. Click on the infographic to see it in full-size.

Extending Slack for better KM

Slack is a great tool for just-in-time comms, but it hits a wall when it’s your only centralised knowledge source or when conversations and channels get so vast, you have no hope of finding something that’s already scrolled by. Thankfully, there are a few add-ons that are coming to the rescue. It’d be nice if collaboration tool vendors would put a focus on building/acquiring good search in the first place, but it seems to be a universal condition, so let’s take a look at your options.
1. Niles
Niles is a bot that lives in and logs channels to learn the answers to common questions, and can be referenced directly within Slack. Anyone that’s supplied an answer will be prompted via email to review and refresh, if needed. Bots like this rely on machine learning, natural language processing, and time, so it won’t work perfectly out of the box. However, a great …

KM for strategic advantage

Original photo by Flowizm
It’s easy to see the benefits of knowledge management when its applied to a support function. Problems are solved more quickly, customers are happier, analysts are less stressed. It’s almost a no-brainer to look here first for improvements to knowledge flow
Knowledge management has application across the whole lifecycle of a product or service, though—from strategy, to design, to delivery and operations, to support, to continual improvements, and finally, to sunsetting (and even failure).
So, imagine the wobbly movie image as we flashback to the early days of a new service offering when it was just an idea in the CEO’s mind. She heads up a successful organisation servicing a healthy niche, and she’s looking to the future to offer a new kind of service in hopes of deepening relationships with existing clients and broadening market reach to gain new clients. A CEO that doesn’t look for new opportunities, …

How active is your directory?

Getting the most out of Confluence’s personal spaces
If your organisation has been using Confluence for several years, already, chances are it’s adoption has happened gradually—organically, even—as one team started using it for documentation, and then another, and then another. Your organisation’s Confluence may have become many things to many people. One of the often untapped benefits is the personal space feature. In terms of basic info like name, location, department etc, it’s very much like any other directory service; it relies on the profile owner to keep it up to date, and hopefully a little bit interesting, so that you can quickly find contact info for whomever you happen to be looking for. But that’s just one small part of it.

Customisable home page

When you create a personal space, you’ve got your own dashboard view of your workday, in a way. The sidebar can be configured with links to frequently used …