Knowledge Management: lessons from the field part 2

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Whenever I read a book about knowledge management I am immediately transferred to a parallel domain where reinventing the wheel is a popular hobby, information overflows but no one is playing fish and people don’t readily share knowledge. Back on real ground, things are actually a bit different. So here´s my perspective on things:

If I could suggest a starting point, it would be identifying strategic knowledge. However, in order to do so, kmers must learn the business jargon and understand the primary business concerns; talk to people and identify how knowledge is being leveraged (it often is) so that you can also build from there. Adjust your toolbox and get started on culture right away.

Identifying strategic knowledge gives you a north. Focusing efforts on that knowledge will allow you to build business oriented metrics. Also, lesson learned are very valuable and I recommend to get started on them right away. However you must construct collaboratively and business partners must be brought in. You need someone who can revise lessons and together, construct the implementation phase. In Fluor, community leaders carry out this role (it´s part of their job function). In my organization people have been nominated to take on this role as a recognition for their expertise. It is not yet embedded in their job profile.

Imagine applying a lesson learned which leads to time reduction and work efficiency. I’m currently overseeing the deployment of various lessons learned so let me explain this with a couple of examples. I can´t provide many details since information is confidential but I know you will get the idea.

Example 1: For each 1000 lines of code, 256 errors were being spotted. (we are an IT firm). Revising errors meant additional hours of work. A tool was developed by one project which allowed the errors to come down to 10 and by doing so, it improved productivity in terms of Hours. By standardizing the solution and deploying it companywide, all of our programmers have benefited from this. We have been able to calculate the hours saved and this translates into hard $$.

Example 2: an innovative information security system was developed in a project. The experience was registered as a lesson learned and I spotted potential projects that could use it. The system was standardized and now it forms part of the products we offer to clients. The solution is already being deployed…this translates into a new business offer which is giving us $$. I can’t disclose the actual amount. But it´s huge.

Metrics like this are included in each of our business unit´s control panel. KM is part of their objectives; we are no just measuring margin and productivity. KM is part of our modus operandi and I facilitate the development of the KM plan for every unit. The plans can differ because each unit has different needs and goals. However, managers agree that a common point is identifying strategic knowledge. Developing this knowledge means carrying out diverse tasks so we establish a gannt and measure accomplishments.

I just got back from a lesson learned meeting. There is one particular project that started sharing lessons every Friday. (it’s a 45 minute session). Best practices are discussed and a debate begins.  Now we are deploying this practice in other projects and it´s going great. After identifying lesson we go back to the committee and spot the lessons that need to be deployed right away.  In today´s meeting, the head of division was invited and he congratulated all the participants. He is writing a small note which summarizes the impact of the lessons that have been applied in his business unit and is officially baptizing “lessons learned Friday´s” in all his 27 projects.

I could go on…but there´s plenty of knowledge to be managed! Feel free to write and share questions!

Have a great weekend.

Here´s a picture of today´s session (we concluded with a special activity for mother´s day)




5 responses to “Knowledge Management: lessons from the field part 2

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  3. Hello José

    What you said about a different KM plan for every unit resonates strongly with me. We have found that corporate-level KM efforts often produce results that take too long to percolate downwards. To get buy-in from the ground we see unit-level KM as having more immediate effect. The factors for success are somewhat different though. For example, it would take a longer time to understand the business objectives of each individual unit to develop a KM plan with them. If you are the only KM practitioner in the organisation then there’s the challenge of scaling the efforts. Regardless, once the spark catches on at the ground level KM is to my mind more sustainable in the long term than when it’s just corporate level implementation.

  4. @Edgar building custom made KM plans is essential, but you need to cross efforts. There are various points which Im sure you will find are common to all. Find suitable business partners and grow from there. I might as well add that sometimes business units don´t have a clear strategy so KM must assist them with this. I would suggest starting with the identification of strategic knowledge.

  5. Pingback: The 10 laws of knowledge revised | Framework Marketing thoughts by Randal Dobbs·

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