A knowledge management strategy framework, proposed by Chuck Seeley and William Dietrick (KM Review, Melcrum Publishing, 2001), can be used to develop a knowledge management strategy for an organization. There are seven components of the framework:
Governance: Where should KM sit in the organization?
Culture: How to create a willingness among employees to share knowledge?
Content Management: What content should be included in the KM systems and processes?
Technology: What technology should be used as the enabler for knowledge sharing?
Application: How can the KM strategy be linked to the corporate strategy?
Measurement: How to measure the value of KM?
Each of these areas will be discussed next in terms of developing an organizational knowledge management strategy.
Governance refers to who should spearhead the KM initiatives and what kind of organizational infrastructure should be established to develop and implement the knowledge management initiatives. From the "State of Knowledge Management" survey results, a crossfunctional team was often used to lead knowledge management efforts, along with the financial and moral support (and leadership) of senior executives (the CEO, CIO, CKO, etc.). Technology, like intranets and portals, serve as an enabler for knowledge sharing, but knowledge management far exceeds implementing just a technology solution. Even though many KM efforts are led by the CIO of an organization, this may be a mistake as it may create a technology-centric approach to knowledge management. One caveat to keep in mind is that the KM crossfunctional team should be sure to have representatives from across each department, including someone from the human resources, library, and IT areas. The funding for the KM initiatives should usually come from the institutional budget for the organization.
The culture part of the knowledge management strategy, according to Seeley and Dietrick, looks at establishing ownership, designing intuitive solutions for work processes, and changing what's important. Establishing ownership involves users in planning and development, incorporating and recognizing user contributions, and soliciting and responding to outgoing user feedback. Designing intuitive solutions for work processes involves selecting content for impact and implementing processes consistent with culture and work styles. Changing what's important refers to demonstrating value to the users, measuring use and impact, and providing the right recognition and rewards.
A knowledge audit should be conducted throughout the organization to try to identify the sources and sinks of knowledge, determine missing and available knowledge in terms of "knowledge gaps," map the interactions taking place between various organizational units or employees (this can be done by using Social Network Analysis), and determine the processes that should be used to allow the organization to be a "learning organization." The knowledge audit and knowledge mapping process will also give the users a better appreciation for how knowledge management can help them in their work, and help them feel part of the process—in effect, establishing "ownership." The knowledge audit and related cultural assessment will also help to determine the existing culture and subcultures in the organization; then knowledge management strategies can be applied that best fit that given subculture in order to achieve success and user acceptance. To provide further acceptance of KM, the knowledge management strategy should be closely aligned with the organization's overall strategic vision and mission.
A "change management" program should also be part of the organization's knowledge management strategy. As current daily work processes may be altered or enhanced as knowledge management takes a greater role in the organization, a change management program is essential so that the employees feel at ease with possible changes in their work processes.
As part of this culture shift, an organization should review its recognition and reward system to include learning and knowledge sharing proficiencies. These proficiencies would then be tied to the employee's annual performance review in order to give knowledge sharing processes greater credibility. The Human Resources Department in the organization can take the leadership role in this area, but it should involve a crossfunctional team to analyze the current recognition and reward system and make suggestions for how to improve it. Part of the resulting culture should not only celebrate successes, but also should also encourage people to openly talk about their failures and bittersweet stories. In fact, a "Significant Learning" award could be established for how lessons were shared and disseminated throughout the organization and the value-added effects of learning from these insights (whether failures or successes). In order to strive towards a "learning organization," people should feel encouraged to openly discuss their failures so that learning can take place across the organization.
The knowledge audit and resulting knowledge map of the organization will determine the mission, key decisions, required types of information, and best intelligence sources for a particular community. Specifically, the knowledge map will answer:
What information exists in the organization, and where is it located?
What expertise resides in the organization—who knows what?
What relevant expertise resides outside the organization, where does this expertise exist, and how do I gain access to it?
What are the best sources of relevant internal and external information?
The knowledge map will help determine what content—and what knowledge ontology or taxonomy of the content—should be part of the intranet.
Once the taxonomy and content are established, a content management process needs to be formalized to keep the content fresh, dynamic, and alive. Content managers and their roles and processes need to be developed. For example, "knowledge facilitators" should be assigned to moderate online communities. "Hot" breaking areas of knowledge should be injected within the online community and threaded discussions.
From Liebowitz's NASA experience, knowledge stewards and knowledge retention managers may be new roles for those in an organization. The knowledge stewards could be strategically placed within the various business units of the organization to develop and embed knowledge processes within the daily work activities of employees, to maintain and augment an expertise locator system within the organization, and to encourage a knowledge sharing culture. The role of knowledge retention managers may also be created to be in charge of conducting knowledge elicitation sessions with experts within the organization and external community, and of codifying and sharing lessons learned and best practices for building the institutional memory of the organization.
From a technology viewpoint, a typical knowledge management system includes a collaboration environment, a knowledge portal, and content management tools. A collaboration environment, via the use of online communities, could be created for posting documents, having threaded discussions, and sharing insights. A knowledge portal should be created, and the employees need to be able to customize their portals for their interest areas. Content management tools (i.e., document management) such as Semio (www.semio.com), Autonomy (www.autonomy.com) and others should also be used so that content can be easily designed, developed, encoded, and maintained. The use of web-based, online searchable video for capturing video nuggets of expert interviews may be a useful technology feature within the organization's intranet and website. Streamsage (www.streamsage.com), Virage (www.virage.com), and Convera (www.convera.com) are the leading software companies producing the ability to handle online searchable video over the Web. The intranet and website should also have an efficient search engine like Google, and might need to have some visualization tools like Inxight (www.inxight.com) to better portray content within the intranet and website.
The knowledge management strategy should be a key pillar of the organization's human capital strategy, and it should be aligned with the organization's business strategy, mission, and vision. According to Seeley and Dietrick, areas of strategic importance to the organization and communities that have common objectives and/or informational needs are excellent candidates for applying knowledge management.
Once the knowledge management initiative is developed, a measurement approach should be constructed and applied. A standard evaluation process to measure outcomes and effectiveness metrics relating to the knowledge management initiatives should be developed. For example, Sue Hanley's work at Dell (Department of Navy Metrics Guide for Knowledge Management Initiatives, May 2001), indicates some possible measures for evaluating online communities and other knowledge management approaches, as shown in the following table:
Communities of Practice
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Special Interest Group
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Lesson Learned Database
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