By Elisabeth Goodman, 26th August 2016
I was reminded in a recent conversation of how people and organisations thrive most where there is a culture of valuing and sharing the expertise of individuals within a team. Conversely everyone loses out where there is a culture of keeping that knowledge to oneself. Knowledge sharing and collaboration is power – knowledge (full stop) is not!
There has been a flurry of demand for our Good Practices for Knowledge Sharing and Collaboration course with CILIP and this is coincidentally excellent timing as I am writing the next of the workbooks on the subjects that we teach. “The Effective Team’s Knowledge Management Workbook” will be coming out in November. (Details will be available on the RiverRhee publishing page.)
So I will use this newsletter to highlight some of the ways to get good practices for sharing knowledge and collaboration in place and also to give a bit of a preview of what will be appearing in the workbook.
Choose your own language for knowledge management
There is nothing new about sharing what we know, and yet a whole discipline and specialised roles have grown up around it. Some organisations ‘did it’ in the 1990s and now see it as something that has become part of their way of working. Many others are still exploring how to do it well today. One of the most important criteria for its success it to be able to talk about it in a language that makes sense to the individuals and teams concerned.
So for instance, some organisations will talk about “knowledge sharing” rather than “knowledge management”. They might also refer to “good practices” for sharing knowledge on the grounds that “best practices” should always be evolving.
Teams might also choose to emphasise how knowledge is shared between people, or how what we know is recorded as content to facilitate retrieval and ‘mining’ (to extract new patterns and generate new knowledge) at a later date.
There is a wealth of tools and approaches for managing or sharing knowledge, and again, a team or organisation will want to identify and describe those they wish to use in a way that will work for them. Our courses and my new workbook will take people through these tools and approaches to help them choose how they will refer to them.
Define your strategy for knowledge management
Knowledge management is not something separate from everything else that goes on in an organisation. It should be an integral part of your goals and objectives. And so a manager or team planning to introduce knowledge management would do well to map out the organisation’s aims, and then explore how they could enhance, reinforce or otherwise support those aims.
We take people through sample scenarios set in Life Science organisations, and in business services such as Library and Information Management to help them define the best strategy for their organisation.
Select your tactics
This is about understanding your current environment, and what tools and approaches for knowledge management will fit in best. What will build on good practices that are already in place, what will address any gaps, and what less helpful practices should be discontinued. It’s about planning the tactics that will enable you to deliver your strategy and enable the individuals and teams within your organisation to excel at what they do.
Again, we take delegates through just how to do this so that, by the end of our training (and of the workbook) they have the beginnings of a tactical plan in place.
Take some time to practise
It’s always useful to have an opportunity to practise new ways of working, rather than throwing people into the deep end. It’s possible to practise how to capture and share knowledge between people before starting new initiatives, at key milestones, and at the end of large pieces of work in as little as 15-20 minute exercises.
It is similarly possible to get an idea of how to ‘codify’ or record areas of knowledge in a relatively short exercise.
These kinds of exercises will give you an idea of how the new ways of working could be applied in your organisation, and what guidance you would like to provide.
Evaluate and build engagement
The first and last steps in introducing any new way of working are to do with assessing how well it will be and is being received and how to build and sustain engagement.
What are the opportunities and threats for your knowledge management strategy? Who are the opinion leaders or champions? What are the influences at play and how will you tap into or negotiate them?
What will you do next?
Are you tempted to have a go at developing your own knowledge management strategy? Do you already have something in place that you might want to adapt based on some of the ideas above?
Do get in touch if you would like to find out more about RiverRhee Consulting, our range of off-site and in-house workshops, and how we can help you to create exceptional managers and teams. See the RiverRhee Consulting website or e-mail the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.