Knowledge Management – Part 2 : Information Audit and Knowledge Mapping

You need to establish what the ‘as is’ situation is regarding information in your organisation. Getting managers to make decisions will be based on the information supplied to them.

When managers seem hesitant to make a decision, it could be that they don’t have enough experience to make that decision, and they don’t have enough people around them with the know-how to get the information they require to make that decision. The time they have available to them will also affect the outcome. Their experience and know-how from their personal knowledge make up the knowledge map. The information presented to them has context, time and quality; this is the information audit. The knowledge map and information audit combined affect the decision.

So in order to get the right decision, you need to present the right information in the right format at the right time.

When doing an information audit, relationships come into play. You can’t walk up to someone you’ve never met and say “give me all the numbers in your cellphone so I can sell insurance to them”. You can imagine the response you’re going to get. Knowledge Managers need to be well trusted, predictable and dependable – they will not be able to build relationships without these traits and therefore unable to get the information required.

Questions and interactions on new relationships are vastly different from those in established relationships. When you have an established relationship with someone, you can’t send them a generic email with ‘Dear Sir’ in the body. You will annoy the recipient intensely.

During the information gathering stage in new relationships, ask people what information they would like to have at their disposal. Chances are you have this information already and can make it readily available. Find out what they already have to identify duplicate subscriptions for example. If the subscriptions are paid, you could save the organisation money. Ask what format they want information in. The format equates to the value people place on the information. If they like to hold paper in their hands, then emailed newsletters are going to be ignored. Also understand that people have information overload and may not know how to manage this information. For example, setting up folders and rules to manage your emails.

You want to extract personal knowledge from people. It’s all about their knowledge, experience and wisdom, (KEW). Build a personal profile based on the answers you are given. Only once a small connection has been made, can you start approaching social capital.

The key people in the organisation are the connectors, the go-to people. You all know one, if you need something, or need to know how something works, or need a referral, there seems to be one person who just knows everything and helps out. This is a connector. Connectors can even leave the company and still be the key connector – people will phone them for months for help. You can link up connectors and determine all the key role players by finding the first one and leveraging off their expertise. Their social capital is vital to knowledge mapping.

Change management is a big part of getting information. The role of change management is to manage expectation during the knowledge mapping phase. You need to be careful what you promise and what you can deliver.

There are 4 stages of change management in this arena :

Compelling vision – of what the future is going to look like, “you’ve left the most incredible legacy”. People always want to know ‘What’s In It For Me’. If you can answer that sufficiently, they will be more likely to share. If people want to be regarded as experts, they need to demonstrate that – share information.

Provide tools and training – equip them for a new reality. Most people battle to write, get someone with writing skills to do it for them. Use photos, videos, spreadsheets, models or checklists instead. Any medium is fine. Then you need some kind of infrastructure to store all this information, (this is where SharePoint comes in).

Role models – you need role models that can walk the talk. Identify who the staff look up to and get them on board first. Innovators are hard to have as role models as they are difficult to keep up with.

Recognitions and reward – catch people sharing information (doing it right), and publish it! Avoid financial reward as it creates more problems than solutions and how does one measure the value of knowledge. Think of innovative ways to reward the sharing of information.

About Veronique Palmer

Empowering people one at a time.
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