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Winning with KM Despite a Worst-Case Scenario

By Ron Aspe, Lucidea CEO

Lack of participation is the biggest challenge when introducing a knowledge sharing program. So what can you do?

The Perfect Storm
What do you do as head of a knowledge management initiative if: there is no knowledge sharing culture,
management doesn’t set an example, and employees don’t see the benefit of contributing content?

We hope you never face all three of these problems at once, but even if you do, there are ways to prevail in a worst-case scenario.

Priming the Knowledge Sharing Pump
To get people using knowledge sharing tools, you must provide easy access to information they want without requiring them to contribute. Google wouldn’t have taken hold if people had to post their own content. Whether you like it or not, getting the benefit without the effort is the baseline expectation of your end users.

With respect to leadership, one of my favorite quotes is, “There go the people. I must follow them, for I am their leader,” from Alexandre Auguste Ledru-Rolling. Most leaders are actually fast followers. If staff use the knowledge management tools you provide, your leaders will eventually take up the cause. Of course it won’t hurt your mission if your KM system provides senior management with information that saves time and makes them look good.

How does the average person benefit from content? By using it. Millions of people use Wikipedia without contributing content (let alone funding) and without looking at banner ads. That said, many do contribute.

Wikipedia reports that 71% of editors participate because they like sharing knowledge, 69% believe that information should be freely available, 63% think contributing is fun, and 7% contribute for professional reasons. If you want people to post content -- without being required to do so as a condition of employment -- you must find a way to tap into what motivates them.

Exploit Existing Information Repositories

Internal Silos
Every organization has information silos. Find these and publish the content to your knowledge sharing site. Everything has value, from the most mundane directional information (e.g., “Who actually has a copy of that document anyway?”) to the most edifying research report.

External Resources
Everyone in your organization uses external information resources. Connecting your KM site with these will strengthen its position as a rich and readily available repository in your users’ minds. Look for ways to add value such as, a) allowing users to skip the login process or, b) managing their passwords when they access outside content through your platform. 

It’s all about convenience
Don’t worry if your knowledge sharing platform isn’t yet the definitive, authoritative resource you wish it to be. Convenience is a key driver of consumer behavior and your users are consumers. The immediate priority is to make your knowledge sharing resource the first place people look.

Water pumps need to be filled with water before they can start pumping water. Similarly, knowledge management systems have to contain knowledge before they facilitate knowledge sharing. Bottom line, pre-loading highly relevant content is a great way to kick-start your knowledge program.

* This article was originally posted on our partner brand's, SydneyPLUS, blog. See original here.

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