Lessons From the Knee of the Master: Battle-Tested Tips for ECM Success

By Greg Clark posted 07-15-2010 00:53


Not many people have heard of Duncan Stanners. Forget Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, Duncan was quietly plying his craft when the internet was but a twinkle in the DoD's eye. But make no mistake, Duncan Stanners has had the kind of success implementing knowledge management programs that most of us can only dream about. 

Duncan recently retired after 20+ years of service at Shell Canada  (which is now wholly owned by Royal Dutch Shell) and I recently had the privilege of joining him and several of our peers in the Calgary knowledge and information management community at a retirement luncheon in Duncan's honour.  In the true spirit of knowledge management, Duncan shared some of the lessons he learned from the successes and challenges he faced over the years. The summary below was shared in the context of implementing a knowledge management program but it applies equally to any RM, ECM or information management program as well. 

  1. Go where the energy is. Duncan suggests that while there may be many opportunities to make a big impact with your initial implementation efforts, don't try to boil the ocean. When choosing where to focus, find the group with the most enthusiasm for your project, pick a problem and solve it. This not only builds goodwill with the folks whose problem you've solved, it also builds momentum and a positive reputation for your program team. 
  2. If you can't find energy, create it.  This is easier said than done but by focusing on the value your program will bring their area of the business and to them as individuals you will gain their trust and enthusiasm.  Again, find a problem and solve it.
  3. When talking to customers, don't talk about KM (or RM, IM or ECM), talk about their business.  This helps build trust and shows that you are there to help them solve business problems. It also has the handy side effect of helping your learn more about their slice of the organizational pie, which helps you apply your expertise in ways that are specific to their business context.
  4. If you can't create a hard-dollar ROI, focus on real risks. There is seldom a conversation about information management that doesn't at some point come back to the question of value for money (and nor should there be).  But hard-dollar saving s from de-duplicating the shared drive and improving information access do not always offset the initial costs of your program. However, a risk-based approach that uses hard cost measures based on things that have actually happened will help make your case. Sell your program on the same basis that you sell a safety initiative; the benefits of working more safely are irrefutable , and once they understand the similarities between the two they will be supportive.
  5. "You're already doing knowledge management. You're just doing it badly".  Duncan's point is that most groups within your organization are already doing knowledge management (or records, information or content management) but because they are using ineffective processes they are not managing their knowledge or information well.  Your job as an expert is to help guide them through the process to managing that knowledge or information better. Duncan suggests that you find cases where you have successful practices and repeat these until you succeed.
  6. Tools won't sell the thing.  At best, tools and technology can facilitate adoption and at worst they can constrain it, but the best tool in the world will not help if you are not helping real-world business users solve real-world business problems.

#KM #ElectronicRecordsManagement #knowledgemanagement #ECMbestpratice