Filed under: Knowledge management
I’ve been involved in a number of interesting projects recently, so I’m going to make more of an effort to blog a little about these.
One recent engagement was with a Federal Government agency, to help them determine a KM strategy. They had been discussing KM internally for some time, and while these conversations were very interesting there was no progress being made towards working out a concrete approach.
To attempt to kick-start things, I was brought in to run a half-day facilitated session with the KM working group. The goal: determine the start of a concrete and practical KM strategy that could be applied in the organisation.
As is typical in these sessions, the discussion was broad-ranging. In the end though, we came up with a consensus approach that was both interesting and practical. A brief summary of this:
A high level vision statement will be drafted for the KM strategy, highlighting the goal of improving the capacity of the agency to deliver its mandated functions, even in an environment of (increasingly) limited resources. This would be achieved by focusing on the front-line staff who are most important to delivering the core functions of the agencies: the inspectors.
A piece of user research (needs analysis) would then be conducted with the inspectors, to identify their working practices, key information needs, as well as the bottlenecks and issues impacting on them. A range of techniques would be used, including: interviews, workplace observation and contextual inquiry.
One very nice idea raised by a member of the working group was to use the “graduate program” participants as researchers. They are “buddied” up with an experienced investigator, and could conduct longer-term observation (using diary methods, or equivalent).
The results of this research would undoubtedly identify many opportunities for changes or improvements. These would then be slotted into the high-level vision and strategy, allowing the activities to be prioritised and time-tabled.
This gives both a strategy view, and a very practical way of working out the on-the-ground activities required to achieve the vision.
Of course, it’s very early days, and there is much work to be done to make this high-level concept into a real project plan. Still, it’s a good start.
This top-down and bottom-up approach to developing a KM strategy is one that I outlined in an earlier article. I also think that the use of ethnography-derived research techniques is a valuable approach to KM in the business world.