Do you have a KM strategy? Where is it? On your desk, or gathering dust on a shelf? If it isn’t working for you, saving you time and money and keeping you on strategic track, then re-write that strategy. Hopefully this post will be a useful practical guide to writing or rewriting a KM strategy that works.
1. Clarify your business objectives
What are your firm’s official/published objectives? If it helps, consider objectives in relation to
- Profits – consider hygiene & health factors
- Assets (people, knowledge, technology etc)
- Market sectors
Use a SWOT analysis (Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats) and a PEST (Political Economic Social Technological), but only if it helps you.
Look at your business’s documentation and speak to key staff and ask
- What do the Partners want/fear from the coming year? What are their perceived business problems?
- What are your Associates and Assistants saying informally about their coming year and their objectives?
- What are your clients focussing on in the coming year?
- What is your competition focussing on in the coming year?
2. Assess your current level of knowledge activity and your resources
Review what you currently do, how and why. Don’t spend time on a massive knowledge audit (unless you really need to, in which case it should be one of your objectives for the year).
Review your current level of activity against your competition. This is for background information only. Your KM strategy supports your business strategy, not theirs.
3. Ask how your knowledge activity currently supports your business objectives
- Evaluate the effectiveness of your current programme of everyday work and projects.
- Realign and refocus your knowledge activity to meet your business objectives.
- Where needs are being met, review whether knowledge activity could be undertaken more effectively and efficiently.
- Don’t be afraid to sideline activities which are no longer meeting your business’s objectives.
Identify gaps and then assess the cost and return of options to fill those gaps.
4. Think about where you’d like to be ideally in 5 years time
5. Make your strategy practical
There is no point writing the strategy unless you are going to refer to it throughout the year. Choose a style that suits you and make it practical and simple. If you need to write your strategy in a particular style for your Executive Board, consider having an additional short, plain English roadmap for everyday use.
Address solid issues. Goals such as “build a better knowledge-sharing culture” will not drive practical improvements, unless you also break them down into smaller goals. Identify key needs and goals and identify how these will be met by actions during the coming year.
Make objectives SMART (Specific Measurable Achievable Realistic with a clear Timescale). Keep them simple.
Limit the number of objectives you set. Better to achieve 5 clear objectives than feel overwhelmed by 10 and achieve none of them.
When considering new projects
- Prioritise any quick wins & leverage any technology you already have.
- Don’t waste precious resources on practice areas/partners that work well without knowledge support – this can wait for more profitable times.
- Don’t put off an important task looking for the perfect solution: implement a good “work in progress” for the time being.
Once the strategy is written, do not put it in a beautiful binder, file it on a shelf and let it gather dust. Whenever you start or complete a project, are asked to broaden your workload, or review your budget/departmental spend, keep your objectives in mind and focus on those tasks which promote your strategy. And make keeping your strategy under review a habit: review it monthly or quarterly (depending on your objectives and the changing economic landscape).
Lastly, if you cannot find the time to write your strategy or find the task too imposing, write a short one-page roadmap or a rough draft. Something is better than nothing. In its simplest form, your strategy just needs to say where you are now, where you want to go and how you are going to get there.
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I also talk about KM strategies in my popular “KM: The Works” training session, which run in January, May and September each year. I also run an afternoon workshop specifically on Strategy in July. Find out more here.