Information from the audit should provide a good indication of leverage points for KM. These are likely to be two or three of the 'levers' described in The Essence of Knowledge Management. What the strategy has to do is to develop these into an actionable plan. An important part of this is making the business case.
Elements of a KM Strategy
Before considering how a strategy might be developed, let's consider first what a final strategy document might contain:
- Background - how the strategy related to other corporate plans and activities
- The business case - depending on the knowledge of your readers, you may have to introduce KM; here you identify potential benefits to the organization; this part of the strategy is a key part of ensuring alignment between the key goals of the organization and KM
- Current status - this is where highlights of from the knowledge audit are included; be sure to include some real examples of good practice that have been discovered, as well as highlighting areas where inadequate KM is creating business inefficiencies and problems
- Stakeholder challenges and knowledge needs - again this links to business activities; you should be able to be explicit about areas of knowledge (e.g. customer knowledge) where better KM could bring identifiable benefits
- A Vision for KM - a succint description of how in a few year's time KM plays an important part in the organization's activities - a short, compelling 'strap line' could encapsulate this in language that everyone understands
- Strategy Overview and Core Objectives - a few high level objectives against which KM success will be measured
- Action Plan - this lists potential projects in different categories, such as the level of invesment, the lead business functions, types of benefit etc.; until approved, this may just be a list of option for which you are seeking prioritization from senior management.
The precise structure and form of presentation is heavily dependent on the processes used within your organization and which group (a senior management steering team, an executive committee) is the intended audience. If KM is initially envisaged as a project or programme, then your organization may already have well defined templates for scoping an initiative like KM.
From Audit to Strategy
This is where the experience of a KM professional comes to the fore. It may seem a little bit like 'black magic', but what you are trying to do is to match the logical to the emotional. The logical aspects include:
- Where are the gaps and duplications in our information and knowledge assets?
- What parts of the business are heavily reliant on particular knowledge but are not getting sufficient of it with the right quality?
- What good practices have we observed that could be replicated with benefit elsewhere in the organization?
- What is the cost savings that could be achieved with faster access to quality information in process X, Y and Z?
- Which vital knowledge is that which exposes the organization to most risk if lost (e.g. through key people leaving)?
While the emotional (i.e. behavioural) factors include:
- Who is already or is likely to be a senior management champion for KM?
- Which person or committee can commit resources for KM? What are their current views?
- Who are the sceptics that need to be persuaded of the benefits of investment in KM
- What are the motivations, personalities and preferences of the key decision makers? Hence, what form and type of communication will get them on board?
- What would be the attitude if we brought in external consultants to implement the strategy, instead of doing it ourselves?
In one sense developing the KM strategy is itself like a microcosm of best KM practice. You gather information, organize and collate it, analyze it, apply knowledge to add value, then restructure and package it in a useful format. You then evaluate its effectiveness. And you'll know you have succeeded when you get approval and get resources to start the real development work in earnest - the next four steps in this phase!
Our 20-page K-Guide How to Develop a Successful KM Strategy provides additional details on the various aspects of developing a KM strategy, including information gathering, analysis and diagnosis, planning the approach, documenting the detail, communicating and gaining acceptance.
See also Making the Business Case.
Last updated: 19th March 2011