Why KM could be more successful at a start-up time for a company?

KM Experts often rely on studies and proven theories to support recommendations regarding the implementation of a KM solution at a company level.

In general, a KM implementation project, is more focused on companies that are in business for many years, who risk to lose an important number of experts (turnover, retirement, etc.). In addition implementing KM usually requires time (some say 3 years others need 5 or more years), of course in addition to important budgets, and inevitably the buy-in from both upper management and staff! From stories and sharing it has been noticed that sometimes a KM culture requires much more efforts than any well-built project plan could ever predict.

Some of the main reasons, reside essentially at the intangible, non-predictable levels of risks that people can represent. Such risks show up for different reasons. Is KM imposed on them, was KM presented in an appropriate user-centered approach, was there an awareness plan and program to educate every person who will have to live with a KM mechanism? So many unanswered questions, in addition to the fact that KM is a matter of people speaking to people. KM is something that happens between two persons, two pairs of eyes, two brains, KM is a human “thing”. Yes of course experts will state that people are one of the various pillars of a well-established KM solution! Yes of course KM needs technologies, processes and procedures, governance, and people!

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Image Credits: Blue Door

The tolerance to tangible results from the management (ROI) can be considered a risk to cut budgets when the project requires time and sustained efforts to ensure people’s buy-in.

This been said, I am sure that many experts will bring much more important explanations and expertise to enable the success of such projects.

My approach is based on several observations on the ground, among stakeholders and the people to whom we presented the concept of KM. This approach is founded on various observations especially in personal communications with the management and staff of the company. To clarify my approach, I like to consider myself as a “KM’s people specialist”, I believe that people can and will make the whole difference, people equal the key of success confirming to management the expected ROI but also the ROE (Return on expectations).

But how about engaging new start-up to consider KM from the beginning? I know this must have been addressed before. I know that many reasons will be invoked to the lack of endorsement to the KM culture (budgets, costs, etc.), this is where experts who truly believe that KM is a matter of people, can contribute to show the various benefits of on-boarding KM at the start-up time of a company’s activities.

The rule of common sense would be enough – at least it is my theory – to demonstrate how easier this would be in avoiding the many issues that a company already established is going through. Building up a KM culture is also building the people’s culture of sharing, the level of threat is considerably reduced, experts and SMEs can be solicited from outside to bring ideas and knowledge instead of sharing their habits if these experts were working at the company for many years. Costs of implementation are proportional to the size of the firm, people grow with the knowledge and feel their contribution is important, these same people will engage new hires and from a peer to peer sharing will be more natural and faster.

Doesn’t this seems to be a good plan to offer to start-up companies? I feel and I guess it is!

Before ending my paper, I would like to share with you a couple of quotes on KM, I like pretty much:

  • “The computer is merely a tool in the process…To put it in editorial terms, knowing how a typewriter works does not make you a writer. Now that knowledge is taking the place of capital as the driving force in organizations worldwide, it is all too easy to confuse data with knowledge and information technology with information.”
    Peter F. Drucker in “The Post-Capitalist Executive,” Managing in a Time of Great Change, Penguin, NY (1995).
  • “Successful knowledge transfer involves neither computers nor documents but rather interactions between people.”
    – Thomas H. Davenport, “Think Tank: The Future of Knowledge Management,” CIO Magazine, December 15, 1995.

Enjoy your evening,

Michel – August 10, 2014

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