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Knowledge Management: It’s not what you do; it’s the way that you do it

(And some golden rules.)

It seems like a lifetime since we first introduced Intergen’s Knowledge Management capability at a Twilight session. In fact, it is almost a year and since that time we have been engaged in a number of projects. These have included developing an organisation-wide KM strategy, providing KM coaching and mentoring; providing analysis, support and advice to a client developing their own KM strategy; developing and facilitating KM workshops; and investigating the concept of a ‘knowledge hub’ to replace an existing technology system. Without exception, these engagements have focused on helping the client to create an environment where individuals and the organisation are able to support achievement of their business goals.

So what have we learnt from these projects? Our message to clients is consistent – it’s as much about ‘how’ you do things as ‘what’ you do. There is no shortage of good ideas in the world – but many will fail because of shortcuts on implementation, or applying old ways of thinking. The more we delve into the complex worlds of organisations, the greater the confirmation that this is true. But, in many cases, the engagement ends once the strategy is delivered. And the most important job – ‘implementation’ – gets left for stressed managers already working 12-hour days and doing the job of two people.

How do we change this? We need to create a fundamental shift in thinking, where investing in ‘implementation’ is as important as investing in the ‘solution.’ That isn’t to say that designing the best solution isn’t important – of course it is. But its success is contingent on ‘how’ that solution is applied. Here are a few golden rules that we believe can help:

  • Successful strategic outcomes are best achieved when those responsible for implementation are also part of the planning or formulation process. Work in partnership, not isolation.
  • Strategic success demands a “simultaneous” view of planning and doing. Think about execution even as you are planning.
  • Implementation takes longer than planning, but all too often planning is assigned the lion’s share of the project time. Apportion time realistically.
  • Implementation should be dynamic. Schedule regular check-ins to respond or adapt to unexpected consequences.
  • Implementation takes more people than planning. Recognise the importance of creating the ‘right’ team.
  • Communication is your greatest ally. Communicate often, communicate well and communicate through multiple channels.
  • Never forget this is a change process. And change needs managing.

Posted by: Sally Jansen van Vuuren, Principal Management Consultant | 11 June 2009

Tags: communication, Change Management, Knowledge Management

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