Wednesday, 19 October 2016

We don't work safely by chance so why would we manage knowledge that way?

This morning, dropping off my daughters at school, I had a brief chat with another Dad about knowledge management (KM).

He works for a local engineering company and has been investigating KM over recent months, using the toolkit we at Knoco produced for the aerospace industry for guidance.
He's planning on producing a KM policy but has yet to put pen to paper.

Our chat went something like this:

Him: Haven't got round to it yet...I need a cost-code from my Engineering Director as I'm not doing this on my own time.
Me: Ah, that old chestnut...cost-codes.
Him: Yeah.
Me: Yes, some companies do have cost-codes for KM, where they've allocated a specific budget.  But what you really want is to go the whole way and just accept that KM stuff is part of everyday working.
Him: Part of the culture, you mean?  We're a long way from that.
Me: Of course you are, but that's where you want to be headed. Think about safety, as an example.
Him: I don't follow.
Me: Well, you don't use a separate cost-code to don your safety equipment, perform safety checks or tests or do any other safety-related activities, do you?
Him: No....
Me: That's because that argument has been won.  We all see that safety is an integral part of everyday working.  That's what proper KM looks like also.
Him: That's a good analogy.
Me: Yes, I use it sometimes when people say "But surely we manage our knowledge anyway? It just's common sense."  But nothing at all gets managed without deliberate effort, does it?  People don't work safely unless they are trained to work safely, equipped to work safely and expected to work safely.  So it is with KM.  That's why it takes the time, money and effort to get to the stage where it just becomes part of everyday working.
Again, you don't work for 7 hours a day and then do an hour of 'working safely', do you?
Him: [laughing] No!
Me: And you don't have a safety team that are the ones that do 'the safe working' either.  They're the ones that help, encourage, support and require everyone to work safely.  So it is with a KM team.
Him: Yeah, that's a great example.  Thanks! 

So next time someone says they don't have time for KM, ask whether they have time for safety and, if they fail to see the connection, explain that it's all about making better ways of working, not more work.

For a chat about how to win the argument for more KM, please contact me direct or via the Knoco website.

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