Knowledge strategy is hard. Even explaining what knowledge management is can be difficult, even to a friend. Guy St. Clair, accompanied by Shannon Spangler and Anne Kershaw, will walk you through how to get started managing knowledge during a panel discussion at #AIIM14. To get ready, understand the difference (and why they are each important) between knowledge management, knowledge strategy, and knowledge services.
Guy St. Clair is recognized as an expert adviser in KM/knowledge services and in building the organizational knowledge culture, with a special emphasis on knowledge strategy development. He is well known as a speaker about the role of knowledge strategy and knowledge services in organizational effectiveness. Building on his KM, knowledge services, and knowledge strategy development expertise and experience, Guy contributed to the creation of the Columbia University IKNS program, advising the university on curriculum development, marketing and industry outreach, and student enrollment management. Guy teaches Management and Leadership in the Knowledge Domain in the program. Follow Guy on Twitter: smr_knowledge and connect on LinkedIn.
A friend confronted me with a sweet challenge the other night.
“Guy,” she said, “a lot of people know you teach about KM and knowledge services, that you’re considered a kind of evangelist for knowledge services.”
“How nice,” I thought a little egotistically. “I like being recognized for my professional efforts.”
I might even have made a comment along those lines because then I heard my friend continuing:
“Here’s the thing, Guy,” she said. “I was telling someone about you and your work, and she wasn’t sure she knew what I was talking about.” Uh-oh. Now I was caught, and I began to get a little uncomfortable. “Just what is it you do?” she asked, and it was clear she expected a response.
Trying to be a good conversationalist, I asked back: “What is it you want to know?”
“I’ve been thinking about it,” she said. “I need to know three things: You talk about knowledge management – which you call “KM” – and knowledge services, and you talk about knowledge strategy. Why? What’s the connection? I’m not sure I know what these things are.”
Fair enough. I would start with some quick definitions. But my friend continued (she’s very smart, and she’s successful – she runs her own business). “And when you work with KM, knowledge services, and knowledge strategy, how do you get started?”
I wasn’t going to get out of this one (not that I really wanted to – I love this kind of conversation).
Here’s how I responded to my pal’s challenge (I said something along these lines):
First, I rearranged the questions. It’s all about KM – about managing an organization or a company’s intellectual capital. But we can’t “manage” something like that. All we can do is work with it, figure out what services we can come with so people can work with the knowledge that they create in the workplace, and how they can share that knowledge. In fact, we have a little acronym for knowledge development and knowledge sharing. We call it “KD/KS.”
So it’s about KM. But not about just KM. It’s about all three (KM, knowledge services, and knowledge strategy), and I try to describe them so there is an interaction, so we can see how they all come together.
For example, we try to “manage” knowledge – that is, to work with knowledge – by trying to come up with a management framework or methodology that enables people to work with knowledge. That’s what we call “knowledge services” – what I describe as the coming together of information management, KM, and strategic learning so the organization benefits when people share the knowledge they’ve developed. Knowledge services is the practical side of KM, you might say (that’s a phrase from my business partner Dale Stanley). It’s how you “put KM to work” for the benefit of the company.
And that leads to a second response, responding to why KM and knowledge services are important. If we do KM right, and if we manage knowledge services right, the company is closer to meeting its organizational objectives. When we talk about how information and knowledge contribute to the company’s success, we often put it in terms of what we call organizational “effectiveness,” that whole area of management where we think about what it is we’re trying to accomplish, and how we get there. It’s a given that we must share information, knowledge, and even strategic learning (anything we learn that helps us do our work better), but we often don’t think about the sharing “process” – that’s what KM andknowledge services are all about.
And do we need a strategy? Absolutely. When we think about how much organizational energy gets focused on collecting, storing, retrieving, analyzing, and – especially – using data, information, and knowledge, it becomes clear why we need a strategy (preferably an enterprise-wide strategy but we can do knowledge strategy on a smaller scale if we need to). It’s the knowledge strategist’s job to ensure that all our knowledge services are coordinated and made to match all other knowledge services efforts going on throughout the company or the organization. Devising that knowledge strategy is – in many organizations – the biggest knowledge challenge of all but (as has been well proven over and over again) worth doing, and doing right.
Is there a first step for capturing employee knowledge, for “moving into” a knowledge strategy “frame of mind” (we might call it). Again, the response is yes. No matter what department or business unit of a company or organization you’re a part of, you need to start the conversation. People are talking about KM in a big way these days. There’s lots of conversation – even among management leaders – about how KM and knowledge services can be part of the company’s overall KD/KS effort. To my way of thinking, this is where we implement that “first step”: we listen (and often, we initiate) conversations about KM and knowledge services. We read what we can, we listen to others to find out what knowledge-sharing problems need to be addressed, we talk with others in the company or the firm to identify how we can be part of that conversation, and we get the KM/knowledge services/knowledge strategy “buzz” going. It pays off all around.
There’s more, of course. I only touched the surface when I was attempting to advise my friend about what to tell her colleague. Hopefully, she’ll take what I’ve said and turn it into a dialogue, giving her colleague the information she needs.
In the meantime, there is another opportunity to learn more. Those of us working in knowledge-related fields – working as knowledge managers, information professionals, and training innovators – can use our KM and knowledge services skills to lead our employing organizations to higher levels of knowledge development and knowledge sharing. It’s a topic that two colleagues and I will be speaking about at the AIIM Conference in April, when we share our thoughts about “Knowledge Strategy: Your Leadership Advantage.” Anne Kershaw and Shannon Spangler, Co-Owners and Managing Directors of Knowledge Strategy Solutions™, LLC, will join me in a panel discussion on Wednesday, April 2, 12-12.30 pm. This is a good opportunity for people working in the so-called “knowledge domain” to learn how to be part of the conversation. And to learn how we can use KM, knowledge services, and knowledge strategy to strengthen our leadership roles in the companies where we work. Come to the AIIM Conference and hear what we have to say.
As co-owner and managing director of Knowledge Strategy Solutions™, LLC, Shannon Spangler consults on E-Discovery support matters, conducts knowledge audits and develops knowledge strategies and implementation plans, and assists clients in implementing records management protocols. She has experience managing E-discovery to meet applicable standards of care and advising with respect to records management best practices and data privacy issues. She provides practical, strategic counsel to organizations, appropriately balancing business imperatives and risk management.
Anne is co-owner and managing director of Knowledge Strategy Solutions,™ LLC, Anne Kershaw continues and further builds upon the substantial consulting practice she developed under A. Kershaw, PC//Attorneys & Consultants, particularly in the areas of legacy data management and disposition and the development of sensible, cost-effective business records management programs that actually work. As an attorney and a nationally recognized data, litigation, and business records consultant, Anne provides independent analysis and innovative recommendations for the management and e-discovery of legacy and active data, including backup tapes, file shares, email and archives.
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