Why is it that people often say, “third time’s a charm”? What is magic about the third time a program is implemented that it generally “sticks”? Do we have to go through the pain and suffering of failing the first two times after spending all the time and effort to gain enthusiasm and momentum only to have it fall off after six months or so?
These are questions that many executives and directors wonder as they discuss ways to make sure their visions around Knowledge Management are carried out. Here are a few strategies on avoiding the pitfalls you’ll likely encounter when you launch a new KM program, or make dramatic changes to your existing program. We explore these and other methods in more detail in our recorded webinar, Creating Institutional KM Change that Sticks.
Getting the right people involved
Managers and leaders are often told that if you build it they will come. This way of thinking does not typically work for implementing and sustaining a valuable and successful knowledge management program. People who want to participate need to know they have people they can trust that will care for their knowledge to make sure it gets into the right hands. They also want to see that it is making a difference for customers. Find people in your organization that want to take on the responsibility of being the caregivers of the organization’s collective knowledge. Then give them the authority, budget and priority to make it accessible and valuable to all that use it.
What’s in it for me?
Knowledge comes from within. We choose to share it and if we don’t see a reason to share, we won’t. Managers often turn to incentives to entice people to share their knowledge to keep a program moving but it results only in short-term gains. Competition between teammates may spike knowledge sharing participation at first but there needs to be a more compelling reason to sustain it long-term. Not to mention executives can’t afford to keep handing out incentives indefinitely. The value of sharing one’s knowledge must be realized by the people contributing and the way to do that is make it as visible as possible, like:
- Publish customer testimonials on how knowledge has helped them.
- Post positive KM metric trends to show team members their impact on the ecosystem
- Talk with individual knowledge contributors about their positive experiences and post them for all employees to see
Managing the pace of change for sustained growth
Part of making change stick is having patience. It takes 12 weeks for the brain to develop a new habit so make sure goals and objectives are realistic. Communicate the progress and focus on the positive changes. Then, establish a good pace that team members feel comfortable with. It is a good idea to get input from various teams when establishing long-term goals and milestones to get the buy-in needed to keep it going.
Unite and align for a common cause
The new Knowledge Management program should be part of every meeting, conversation and communication. Metrics are the best way to start conversations around knowledge. They need to be top of mind from the CEO down to the individual knowledge contributor. Align team and individual objectives with program outcomes by adding them to performance reviews and quarterly company objectives. Managers should discuss KM program process in weekly meetings and executives should set aside time during quarterly operations reviews to focus on the KM program.
These are just a few ways to create a KM program change that will be long-lasting and successful. Watch our recorded webinar to hear more from a panel of experts who have successfully executed institutional KM changes within their organizations.