In July this year, I was lucky enough to receive a Health Care Libraries Unit (HCLU) sponsored place on the Knowledge Management Advanced Course in Henley-Upon-Thames. The course was facilitated by KM Master, Chris Collison and I joined a diverse group from the likes of KPMG to the National Lottery, to learn about knowledge management.
Lesson 1: Building Bridges between Knowledge Islands
I am no KM expert. I think I still have a way to go but I can definitely see how library and information professionals have the skills to influence KM activity in their organisations. Throughout the first day, I was surprised at how much I knew about KM. I was also continually reminded about how much I do not know about KM, but that was OK.
Chris used the concept of a map to explain KM and the terminology associated with it. He described how innovation, personal development, information management and business improvement all shared boundaries with KM and used similar terms to describe similar activities. He used the example of ‘retaining knowledge’ and how this is an important element within change management but also KM. I realised we might be doing KM stuff without even knowing it is KM.
You can view the KM map on Chris’ blog Knowledgeable.
I also really liked the following video, shared by Chris on behalf of the Environment Agency. It is a great reminder about why we should be willing to move beyond our own ‘knowledge islands’ and embrace what we do not know.
Environment Agency: Knowledge Management Animation
Lesson 2: Learning from Olympic Games Knowledge Management (OGKM)
During the training, there were plenty of examples of organisations which have established processes to ensure there is continual organisational learning. One of these examples was the Olympic Games Knowledge Management team or OGKM.
OGKM are a team of eight and they oversee clearly defined phases of knowledge acquisition, transfer, retention and sharing. In the hours after an Olympic Games has been awarded, KM is already in full swing!
When a nation bids for an Olympic Games, they agree to share what they learn with future hosts. One example of passing on this learning is via technical manuals. There are thousands of manuals for the Olympic Village, lighting set-ups for TV audiences and ‘Managing Volunteers’, to name a few. Alongside these manuals are a range of programmes for future hosting nations to be involved in. There are observer and secondment programmes, plus a wide range of assets- like visual walkthroughs of stadium layouts.
It was fascinating to learn about how knowledge is continually captured and shared by OGKM to ensure that one of the world’s biggest and most complicated events is a success.
“The quality of the games has been directly related to the quality of the transfer of knowledge”- Seb Coe, 2017.
If you’re interested in learning more about OGKM, this video is pretty interesting.
Lesson 3: Why KM?
The people attending this course needed very little convincing about the value of KM. Yet Chris asked us to look at seven tools to help organisations learn and why we might use them. I found this really useful and so I thought I would share my top 3 methods of KM for before, during and after a project.
I’ve provided links to the excellent Knowledge Management Toolkit if you want to read more about each tool.
Learning before your project starts?
Peer Assists generate dialogue and gather experience from a range of parties. They will ensure that the knowledge and experience of others will inform your thinking before you start.
Continually learning throughout the project?
Communities of Practice could be a blog post all on their own but they will bring together a wider variety of individuals for whom a project or topic is of great interest. Structure and continual reflection are important here and will make sure the COP remains effective.
Want to make sure your project leaves a legacy or can be replicated?
Baton Passing will allow a project team to collaborate one last time before they go their separate ways and learning is not lost. Any future teams collaborating on a similar topic will thank you for your ‘baton full of knowledge’ at a later date.
If anyone is ‘super-psyched’ to learn more about knowledge management, I’d recommend looking out for Chris’ new book, The KM Cookbook. There is a case study from Dan Ranta who describes his approach to KM as ‘kill people with kindness and competency’.
Dan Ranta works at one of America’s biggest companies General Electric (GE).
Library and Knowledge Service Manager
Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust