Over the past few days I have been receiving a lot of emails of people asking me how they can solve the “what´s in it for me” issue. Getting leadership buy in apparently is hard and it gets even harder when we try to get people involved and make them part of a knowledge sharing culture.
What we need show is how KM can actually improve business line results and not just in terms of participation: we need to prove with clear economic metrics how KM is allowing the business to reach key goals. We need clear goals, activities and metrics. People already have a tight agenda so don´t make them lose time. Show them how KM will help to get their work done faster and more effectively. Don’t speak to them in the KM jargon; they don’t need to understand what tacit and explicit knowledge is; forget about the KM models and build a new one based on what the company and workers need.
Get people to develop the KM model. Don’t try to do it yourself; the end result might be something so complex that we will need permanent translators to understand what KM is about. Identify key positions in the company and work with them. We need something so simple that anyone can look at it and understand how KM will help them. I have seen so many models which are so complex that you sit for awhile and wonder how it all translates into concrete actions. I know this because at our company we made the same mistake. When we had business line managers talk about KM with their teams, I needed to sit down with them and basically guide them through each component of the model. This didn’t help at all.
Identify key positions in the company and get them to work for you: Show them the business line problems and once they become more aware of what the business needs show them the different KM actions that can be undertaken in order to solve the problems. Afterwards, have them go back to their teams and identify key lesson learned, persons that may have a critical knowledge and haven´t shared it before, undergoing innovations and other relevant actions from a knowledge point of view. Once they´ve done that, sit down with them and start working on a plan in order to get those things done. Align this with your community strategy so that you can a develop a plan for each community. This will also allow you to give them the responsibility of developing KM.
Validate every action with the business line managers and make sure that everything that’s in the plan will help to ease business pains and gain benefits. If you can’t demonstrate this, think twice before doing it. Yes, it’s possible.
So in the midst of skepticism, It’s all about getting people involved and demonstrating results. Aligning KM actions in business manager’s objectives also helps. It also helps when you align it with performance management in general and give certain people specific goals and objectives. But this doesn´t guarantee that they will become part of the “KM team”. So once again, the KM value preposition needs clear economic metrics in order to show that it´s paying off.
So, how are you handling the “what´s in it for me issue?”