I’ve been a participant before but never the guy behind the curtain. I took that leap with a group called KMers.org. The KMers are a group of smart folks who are focused on helping themselves and their companies implement and manage knowledge management (KM) initiatives. I personally believe that as we continue to make the move from an industrial, machine-based, production economy to the knowledge economy, KM projects will continue to rise in importance.
The reason I threw my hat in the ring for this was that at my core I believe that KM initiatives, like many of today’s business processes, while based on software, are totally dependent upon whether people actually dig in and use the software. From a KM perspective – to me that meant that success or failure of any initiative is less about the tech and more about “sharing” information. My question was, at its core, “is sharing an issue and if so, how have people and how can people influence and increase sharing behaviors.”
KM is about sharing. And sharing is a behavior issue. And that’s an issue of influence. And that is where I play.
The Set Up – Who is KMers.Org?
To steal their words from their site:
KMers.org is a community website focused on hosting and storing twitter chats around the #KMers hashtag. Social Media and Knowledge Management are a powerful combination. We aim to use a Social Media tool (Twitter Chat) and a CMS tool (Drupal) to run a site that helps KMers share information about the practice of Knowledge Management.
You can review the entire twitter chat transcript here. But for me the important points that stood out from the conversation with the group were:
- Lack of sharing is THE major barrier to knowledge mgt; either IT; Comms; HR; legal; or cultural, the deck is stacked against #KMers
- tech IS NOT km. KM is about ppl + as as @stangarfield says we need to understand what r barriers 4 ppl to share #kmers
- @stangarfield - also try to make heroes out of people /groups who do share naturally -focusing on these "cultural sweetspots" is key #kmers
- @stangarfield You missed one reason: People don't know what to share that might be of value to others. #KMers
- @incentintel -yes + perhaps "digital trails" like my contributions in online forums, my bookmarks, my reputation score perhaps #kmers
- @incentintel Find success stories in the context of sharing, e.g., someone helped in a forum replies with the value of that help #KMers
- @incentintel -SNA does come in very handy-more than identifying evangelists you can devise effective KM interventions coz u "see" it #kmers
- Agree! RT @stangarfield: @pekadad Point out to people what they have to share is valuable, and then reinforce positively when they do #KMers
- [moderator] Out on a limb here - should HR be involved from a communication and adoption? #kmers
- @incentintel -should HR be involved ? >>Absolutely - recruiting for key traits, identifying collaborative leaders, internal Comm etc #kmers
- [moderator] - summing up what I heard - HR has a role but not leveraged much, more success stories (authentic) identify bright spots #kmers
- helping to sum up...metrics are good, leadership is key #KMers
So to Sum-Sum Up
- Assess your company culture. Is it a sharing culture or do people get promoted based on individual effort and hoarding of infomraiton? If so – much groundwork is needed before you’ll have any success. Believe me, I’ve been through two KM projects – one on Lotus Notes and one on Sharepoint. You couldn’t get folks to share if you gave them AIG-sized bonuses. The culture was to “me” oriented. There were no rewards and recognition for sharing - just for performing - individually.
- If you are in IT and are responsible for getting software or other process installed at your company – stop by your HR department and see who can help you communicate and disseminate information. That will be critical for success.
- If you want a new process/software to be adopted by the masses find small pockets of acceptance – call them bright spots or positive deviants – and wage a PR campaign about these folks. Make recognition of their efforts a GOOD thing. Highlight them. Have TOP managers highlight them in emails and in the hallway.
- It isn’t a software problem – it is a PR and Communication Problem – treat it as such.
It’s Always About Adoption - And That is Behavior-Based
At the end of the day the real cost of any software – heck any business process whether technology-enabled or not – comes down to whether people use the software or the process.
Whether that be HR technologies that manage employee performance or track potential applicants or systems that store and codify information – the true cost is the total cost of adoption. And adoption is a people issue not a systems issue.
The key things people will look for when adopting a new behavior are:
- Is it good for me personally and professionally? (Sr. Mgt. values it)
- Are other people like me doing it? (Consensus and Social Proof reinforces value)
- Does it work? (Success stories not statistics – tie to emotion not logic)
Cover those points and you may just be successful.
Ignore them and I can almost guarantee you won’t.