At a recent benchmarking debrief, a client was offended when they scored low in knowledge management. Their defence was: “So if I just wrote down my plans and put them on the server, then I would be best-in-class?!” Obviously, B4P didn’t do a great job selling the idea of knowledge management and what good looks like in the FMCG industry, on this debrief.
What does good look like?
Companies that have invested in knowledge management do so in three ways to achieve best-practice:
- They create a culture of sharing knowledge and their managers mentor and follow-up on using existing knowledge.
- invest in at least one system with which employees can interact in a very user-friendly way, and they are encouraged to do so when writing plans, developing activities, and recording effectiveness. This includes having a close-out report on significant activities and investment.
- They reinforce, monitor and remove alternatives (e.g. the filing cabinet, the C drive avoidance).
Is it as simple as that?
Not really. Companies with some form of mandatory governance such as pharmaceutical companies, will have better knowledge management than others. Companies that believe in leveraging and sharing their knowledge across the globe, and are anxious not to reinvent the wheel in local end-markets have also got very good at knowledge management. But that has required global sponsorship and investment of the concept, and local hands-on managers making sure that systems are used.
So why do people hate to write close-out reports and write things down?
There are theories: fear of accountability, lack of time management, no real motivation, no understanding of knowledge transfer, lack of interest in succession management, a need to make one’s self powerful or to maintain power through holding information.
Should we worry about it?
There is a lot of evidence in the best practice literature suggesting that large customers can find emails offering them a particular discount or trading term, when suppliers cannot. Or activities that didn’t work in a previous year are repeated. Activities that have failed in one market are then reused in another (loyalty schemes are particularly common in this regard). Other anecdotal evidence suggests that knowledge management is an easy sell once you get past the initial resistance to doing a file Save As or Upload and putting it in the right place. Happily, some companies are so good at it that they take pride in transferring successes (and failures) to managers in other markets. They ensure that their companies are learning organisations and better places to work.
- Posted by david
- On July 19, 2013
- 0 Comments