The effective implementation of Knowledge Management (KM) can reap great rewards. A decrease in expenses will take place even if an increase in revenue does not occur. However, the reality is that not all businesses are capable of building successful KM databases and most of their issues lie with organizational culture. Here are seven best practices in organizational culture that can help in ensuring a lucrative KM initiative:
Understand your company's organizational culture
Since it governs how employees behave and perform their tasks, it is important to assess your organizational culture before selecting a KMS (knowledge management system). It is also important to realize that the driving force behind successful KM is not expensive or overpriced systems, rather it is the people who operate them. The capabilities of a company's personnel are an essential part of the organization's business needs and must be taken into account while preparing a KMS business case. If the company staff only have basic computer skills, buying an expensive and complex system that does not meet business requirements would be counterproductive.
Implement KM in carefully measured steps
Taking your time with the initial implementation of KMS is vital. This is because people do not usually respond well to abrupt changes and will most probably shy away from using a foreign system that they do not understand. Enforcing the system in slow and measured steps will make dealing with change more feasible. It also gives the organization an opportunity to analyze user adoption, adjust minor issues and learn from mistakes to better improve the organization's KMS.
Motivate employees through rewards and appreciation
A key reason why many KM systems do not succeed is due to the long-established ideology that by withholding valuable information, an individual becomes a fundamental pillar of the organization and cannot be dismissed due to his/her prominent standing. This type of behavior can be changed by implementing motivating incentives such as a bonus, an employee benefit or even simple gestures of appreciation and acknowledgement.
Implement the knowledge ownership practice
This is an effective way to maintain your company's KMS for many reasons. Attaching their names to the knowledge they provide will motivate employees to be diligent in adhering to KM rules and in providing well-organized, credible and accurate information. In that way, the reward system would be easy to implement and good knowledge providers can take credit for their efforts. Also, KM maintenance will become much easier since employees will be held responsible for their own knowledge. Knowledge ownership also makes it possible for knowledge users to ask for clarifications or explanations from knowledge owners if they find the information difficult to comprehend.
Assign a KM executive
Applying KM causes significant change in an organization. Therefore, the system must be curated by a well established person who has had long-term, first-hand experience in the organization. A person who properly understands the organization's business drivers, its aims, objectives and is privy to company secrets would be the best candidate. Such a person would be able to assist employees in their queries and would ensure that the KM initiative remains focused and on track.
Debrief after important events and projects
Many companies often forget the importance of tacit (informal, experience based) knowledge and seem to prioritize explicit (formal) knowledge. Rather than limiting tacit knowledge, companies would benefit by expanding their horizons and creating more ways in which employees can acquire it. This could include holding review and debrief sessions after projects or events. Assessing positive outcomes, identifying room for improvement, lessons learned and pointing out key pieces of new knowledge would be extremely beneficial for future reference.
Implement a formal knowledge exchange policy
Many companies suffer harsh blows to their business when a key employee who has been working there for a long time leaves and takes vital tacit knowledge with them. If a knowledge exchange policy is implemented, leaving staff would need to pass on important knowledge they have to other members of the work team. Recovering such information will ensure that the company does not feel affected by the change in employees.