9 steps to get people to share knowledge
From launching a community of practice through to e-learning events to embedding knowledge as part of a response to succession planning, how can you get people sharing knowledge? There are many ways, but we find the following 9-step framework to be highly successful.
I’m going to preface this by saying that I often get criticised for giving too much away in this blog, particularly from other consultants. I find this interesting and I counter, why would you not share the evidence-based methods you have designed, developed and/or deliver? I’m comfortable with the fact that most advisory/development engagements require a mix, a secret sauce if you will, of tools/models/frameworks stirred together with a unique combination of knowledge (formal and informal), skills and experience. I also find it interesting that more and more KM consultants are dabbling in the learning space, blending cognitive HR learning and development methods to suggest “new” KM methods. I will leave you to judge, but I am troubled by some of the misinterpretation of adult learning/HR concepts by KM consultants, with no real L&D tradition, who are starting to coming to terms with the fact that technology is not the best response.
Back to the challenge of how to get people to share knowledge we use the following 9-step framework, adapted from instructional design (Gagne’s principles for instructional design), to show how you can take accepted practice in the field of adult learning and development to get people sharing knowledge.
We use this approach in all sorts of environments, from e-learning events to launching Communities of Practice through to succession planning driven knowledge sharing events – just bring people together, remember that they are adults and, as such, have requirements that need to be met if you are going to ease the cognitive learning/knowledge-sharing process. One thing to remember, you are the facilitator, not the instructor – think about enabling guided discovery (“talking with”) over “talking at” people.
1. Grab their attention! This is a call to action – what are the facts, what is the impact for you, for the team, for the wider organisation and your customers? Most importantly, where is the value – think impact upon strategy/goals?
2. Describe the purpose of the group you have brought together; you need to be able to clearly describe the goals and actions that you need from the group (e.g. I have brought this team together to discuss the design, development and delivery of new client services and I am suggesting that a goal be that we come up with three to four ideas that we can experiment with over the coming six months). It is important that you do not impose goals/purpose upon the team. Your job is to facilitate a co-development process, where the purpose are co-created by team members.
3. Present a problem for the team to solve (e.g. Looking at developments in the financial services sector, Integrated Reporting is going to reshape organisational value indicators over the next three years and we need to find ways to respond).
4. Call upon existing knowledge, skills and experience – who in the team has relevant experience that could assist in solving the problem?
5. Provide guidance and insight – you want to allow the team to explore the problem, but you should also be prepared to supply or point them toward data/information/models/frameworks/ research/case studies etc. that can support their problem-solving activities.
6. Model output in practice – ensure that any discussions are set in the context of practical application within the firm.
7. Give critical feedback – be prepared to play Devil’s Advocate and be aware/challenge group think.
8. Assess progress – is the problem valid, how are you performing against your purpose and goals?
9. Move to action – identify action points and the next steps to move toward achieving your goals.
I hope you find this framework useful and my best piece of advice, remember that your knowledge holders are adults and start exploring their cognitive needs – the learning and development process is a good place to start.