The new knowledge
Knowledge management from the trenches - Experiences, good, bad and other from real-world KM implementation.
Over the years, I’ve started to use more and more social media tools. My evolution started with this blog in 2004, then on to my songwriting blog, joining MySpace to share music, Google/Yahoo Groups, and now LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Wanting to use it more efficiently, I just finished my certification as a Social Media Specialist from the Social Media Magic University.
I was recently contracted to provide continuity of management for a soon to retire manager. My roles will be to complete one short-term project and provide interim management of another long term project. In essence, I’m providing a bridge of knowledge from the retiring employee to the new employee.
With high turnover and difficulty in replacing key employees, knowledge retention is becoming more and more important.
1) Proactive – as an everyday task, capturing knowledge on an continual basis
2) Salvage – When you know someone is going to leave, capture essential knowledge in the time allotted.
3) Recovery – Finding or reconstructing the needed knowledge afterward
In an ideal world being proactive would be the best. However, capturing knowledge takes time, effort, and resources. There’s a fine balance between the value of knowledge captured and resources required. Prioritization and most importantly an understanding of “mission critical” or “position critical” knowledge is a good place to start.
My wife and I went out to buy a new TV. This was a great example of the promise of technology vs. what’s truly needed. Our business requirements were pretty simple, we needed a new TV (even though our current 25 years old set is just fine) and I had watched the Bronco game on a friend’s high definition set, so high definition was a must. Other than that...
Picture this scenario: You’re in a rush to beat a competitor to achieve a very complicated goal. Tons of pressure is being applied to accomplish the goal first. You assemble the best of the best, and use a variety of large and small contractors to help you. After tons of trial and error, you complete it, have a huge success, win accolades, and then move on to another project. 35 years later, you’re asked to do the same thing without reinventing the wheel. Could you do it?
As a way to ensure the continued availability of knowledge from recently retired and part-time water professionals, I recently launched the Water Advice Network. I started out by signing up folks that I had worked closely with. In a short period of time, word spread and the network is quickly adding more and more top names from the water industry, worldwide. This includes the retired executive directors of the Awwa Research Foundation and his counterpart in Australia; directors from EPA, Ontario Ministry of the Environment, and the state of Wisconsin; former chair of the National Drinking Water Advisory Council; highly respected consultants; and two retired VPs of major water utilities. I've also begun to add top researchers from major universities.
Last week I attended a two-day training program titled "Business Continuity Planning for Water and Wastewater Utilities: How to keep your utility in business and operating in times of crisis." I went to the workshop to determine if and how I can incorporate business continuity planning (BCP) into the KM work that I'm doing. My general conclusion was that a good BCP plan has components of KM and and good KM plan considers what to do in a time of crisis.
Over the last few months I've heard more and more questions about knowledge retention and tying knowledge management to succession planning.
Knowledge management planning should also not be done in a vacuum and should be integrated with business strategies and succession planning.