During this session I really felt for the presenter, Jim Stewart, as he was up against some significant challenges – the room was much bigger than the audience, it was mid-afternoon on the final day of the conference, and no one seemed terribly keen on participating in any of the interactive aspects. I wasn’t really sure what I thought of it, both whilst it was going on and in retrospect, but looking back over my notes I’ve written down some interesting and coherent thoughts.
Knowledge management can’t exist in isolation – it needs to be part of the company ecosystem. In order to accomplish this, you first need to understand the company culture so you can work out how best to effect change.
Culture is essentially the personality of an organisation: its values, beliefs, assumptions and behaviours. Corporate language is very indicative of this, as are the stories of heroes and cautionary tales. Also the unwritten rules – what is rewarded and what is frowned upon? Culture is implicit, embedded, self-perpetuated, used to assimilate new starters, rooted in tradition, and reinforced by uniform thinking and decision-making.
In order to make a cultural change you must first understand orientation systems, performance review practices, rewards, support, leadership and promotion structures. Look for ways to introduce &/or strengthen knowledge sharing, incorporate key behaviours, endorse co-operation, and celebrate and publicize success stories – how can these be couched in terms of organizational goals?
Don’t focus on powers or attributes you don’t have (or don’t think you have) – be the change you want to see. One of the most effective ways to change culture is to start behaving differently yourself. Everyone has some degree of influence. Also once you’re doing something yourself you can begin to involve others, find allies and enlist champions.
Also consider what a knowledge sharing culture looks like? It’s not only about how to get there, but how to make the change last. Do you have a clearly-defined need, time and resources available to see the project through, and a strategy for measuring effectiveness? Set yourself deadlines, even just for tiny steps.
Knowledge cafes are a great tool – the best way to share knowledge is to have a conversation.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, devoted citizens can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that has.” Margaret Mead
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