Q&A: Re-invigorating a stalled knowledge program

In our recent webinar, Creating Institutional KM Change that Sticks, our expert panel shared lessons learned in implementing new knowledge programs.

In this series of posts, Jennifer Crippen, Senior Consultant at DB Kay & Associates, and Dave Cutler, VP of Customer Success at Venafi, are joined by Irrevo’s Knowledge Strategists, Melissa Burch and Laurel Poertner to respond in detail to the questions our audience shared during our Q&A session.

Do you have suggestions for good resources, best practices, and/or lessons learned that address restarting KM programs that have stalled or failed, and that speak to the unique challenges that exist in such programs vs. ones operating in a greenfield environment? How does the failure of previous efforts impact the willingness of an org to change, and what pace they’re willing to move at?

Melissa Burch: 

Invigorating a stalled knowledge program is definitely different than initiating a new one. Previous failures are felt by all members of the organization and it is best to acknowledge what has gone wrong and how things will be different in the future. The heightened level of pessimism from the team means that it is important to share the victories early and often. A pace of change that is too slow is likely to be interpreted by the team members as a leading indicator of failure because they are not able to see the impacts quickly. Build momentum quickly and sustain it more carefully than during previous attempts.

Laurel Poertner: 

I do think that a restart is a little bit different because you may not have additional training since your audience is already familiar with the changes. I think you should always have a refresher course. I also think it’s important to understand in great detail why it failed. There’s so much to learn on why something failed, and you can really build on that. Try to make sure you understand the underlying causes. Was it a culture thing? A change in leadership? It is helpful to be transparent with those reasons for failure so your teams understand why the mistakes happened. Use that to your advantage by showing you have resilience and new experience to help you move past it. You may find that there are team members that still have some of that momentum that you leverage. I have been a part of several implementations that sought out additional help from an organization like DB Kay and Associates or Irrevo that helped them get going again. 

Dave Cutler:

I agree, analyzing what went wrong and having a plan to do something differently including outcome based objectives and getting people’s buy in right from the beginning, and communication and the three things we’ve talked about throughout the webinar.

Jennifer Crippen:

The restarts are where I find I spend a lot more of my time and Laurel and Dave hit it on the head, that transparency and recognizing whatever it was we did before that didn’t work and we’re not gonna do that again. Then really plan and demonstrate how you’re not gonna let the organization fall back into those same failures by doing things differently and very clearly explaining how things will be different this time around.

Learn More

If you missed the live broadcast, you can watch a recording of this webinar. Stay tuned to the Irrevo blog for more Q&A from this session, and follow us on Twitter to be the first to know when we share new answers.