Knowledge managers are a widely varied bunch. We work in different industries. We may be nestled into an org chart under IT, Customer Service, or Marketing. We support an internal audience, external customers, or a mix of the two. We may have a great knowledge program, or know that ours can improve. We may manage a team of individual contributors, or we may be in the trenches, getting personally involved in content creation.
Over the years, I’ve worked with hundreds of people who manage knowledge programs of all shapes and sizes. No matter what differences divide us, if you asked a few dozen knowledge managers what “Doing KM Right” means to them personally, you’d hear the same things over and over. We execute on our strategies in different ways, but every knowledge management professional holds these three truths at the core of their beliefs:
Good KM needs a vision
To create a great knowledge program, you have to know what success looks like. You, your leadership, your direct reports, and your business partners need to understand what you’re working on, and how your actions play into organizational goals. So often we get caught up in the day-to-day business of creating content to support products and services that we lose sight of the bigger picture. Getting lost in the details is the difference between striving for improvement and just keeping the lights on.
Good KM needs guiding principles
Having a clearly defined vision of the experience you want your customers (internal and/or external) to have is paramount. Defining clear guiding principles (around 10 or so) that are the highest level requirements that your system and process should never compromise. These give you and your team the ability to make future decisions in the context of the real intent of your knowledge base program. Knowledge programs fail to achieve their potential when they lose track of this vision and the principles that were to be upheld. Revisiting these regularly and socializing them, will drive long-term improvements to your program and ensure a solid user experience.
Good KM needs partnership
Once you know where you’re going and how you’ll get there, you need support – and a lot of it. You need a supportive ear in leadership to green-light your budget and resource allocations. The cross-functional relationships you’ve built with your business partners are an important asset as you develop a holistic knowledge strategy. Of course, your end users, the people who benefit the most from the knowledge you capture, need to be brought into the loop in a meaningful way. Teamwork is critical to KM success.
Operationalizing your beliefs
We can all agree that these three truths are the keys to reaching your knowledge management goals, no matter how you define success. How do you combine vision, principles, and partnership to unlock your organization’s potential? Easy answer: Systematically. Through our experience building and managing successful KM programs, Irrevo has developed the KM Path Methodology to operationalize these core truths that are at the heart of every great KM program.
Our KM Path methodology organizes these pillars into six phases:
- During the KM Innovation phase, you’ll outline your vision and build a high-level plan to meet your goals.
- The Architecture Design phase moves further into decision-making, defining the requirements and scope, creating an achievable timeline, and identifying the right technologies to support the plan.
- Executive Support is the critical phase in which you obtain buy-in from an executive sponsor and communicate your vision, plan, and goals to stakeholders.
- After you’ve secured buy-in, you’re ready for the Build and Test phase where you’ll create the structure that supports your knowledge program: Processes, governance models, metrics, and content standards.
- In the Launch phase, your plans come to fruition as you leverage new processes, update or migrate content,
- The Optimize phase is what marks the difference between a once-and-done project and a living program.
Want to know more about how the KM Path methodology encapsulates the concepts you already know to be true? Check out the detailed plan for a list of actions, decisions, and deliverables you’ll need for your KM program.