7 things organisational Knowledge Managers and other KM staff can be doing now, by Paul WhiffenThe world and working environment are changing quickly as we adapt to COVID-19, but there are still some things that Knowledge Managers, their teams and staff can be doing now to keep managing the right knowledge and managing the knowledge right.
1. Keep the knowledge flowing
At the level of principle, nothing has changed Knowledge Management is still about managing the organisational knowledge asset including knowledge flow, learning, and sharing. This principle still applies even though many are working from home.
2. Keep up morale
Knowledge Managers tend to be quite people and socially-minded, and can help maintain morale by building connections, communicating and encouraging staff to be proactive in networking and building their own and the organisation’s knowledge. They can help energise the organisation when many staff may be feeling a little flat.
3. Maintain Knowledge Plans
Knowledge Managers assigned to Projects and Functions can maintain their Knowledge Plans, this helps to give confidence to staff that learning is taking place and the corporate memory is being maintained. Team learning processes may need to be done virtually instead of face to face, but a combination of phone conversations and online meetings can help this to happen.
If Projects and Functions are being paused due to the current situation, then the Knowledge Manager should be making sure the Knowledge Plan is brought up to date so that it is easier to re-start business when the time comes.
Knowledge Managers themselves should be connecting regularly to share insights and lessons from across the organisation.
If a business is continuing, even if at a slower rate, then Knowledge Managers can organise virtual events where business players share their progress and lessons with others across the organisation.
4. Keep Communities of Practice alive
Communities of Practice can be maintained assuming staff can still have access to a platform to connect and share. Community Leaders and Facilitators need to be proactive in encouraging their members to participate, and a review of the community Terms of Reference or Charter may help to remind people of why the community is important to the organisation and the value it brings. Even if staff are unable to access the usual platform, then key community members should be encouraged to remain in contact using other media such as by phone or virtual meetings respecting security issues.
"I once knew a community member who was in a war zone – he’d only be available to contact others at night as his satphone was hidden underground during daylight hours! But he made the effort because it helped him to talk to others with similar roles and seek their advice"
Again, if the business is paused then the Community Leader and Facilitator needs to capture community documentation and discussions for storage so that they can be re-started at a later date, ideally with a good re-launch event.
5. Knowledge Succession Planning
Some key members of staff may be coming up for retirement in the coming months or perhaps a year ahead. They, their line managers, key staff remaining and Knowledge Managers need to outline a plan for how the risk from knowledge loss can be mitigated. This whole approach applies in normal circumstances and shouldn’t be forgotten in this period.
6. Run training courses
KM training courses can still be run individually or in groups virtually for staff across the organisation – this will help to reinforce the need for knowledge flow and maintaining a corporate memory.
7. Keep in contact
The senior KM leader needs to remain in contact with senior management in the usual way, championing the KM cause and clarifying which knowledge needs to receive focus given the business strategy, direction, and objectives.
Many of the principles of KM remain in place during this period – all those in KM roles need to play a key leadership role in maintaining the organisation.
Quick recap : 7 things Knowledge Managers can be doing now
- Keep the knowledge flowing
- Keep up morale
- Maintain Knowledge Plans
- Keep Communities of Practice alive
- Knowledge Succession Planning
- Run training courses
- Keep in contact
More from Paul
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Did you know..
- 90% of the knowledge within an organisation remains within the heads of its employees 
- Organisation's that are most effective at knowledge transfer improve project outcomes by nearly 35%? 
Knowledge management is a difficult challenge that every organisation is faced with. Being able to retain and transfer valuable knowledge in your Business can be the difference between success and failure.
Our free downloadable ebook Managing the Right Knowledge and Managing the Knowledge Right shares the key questions and solutions for improving your knowledge management capabilities to help you become 'Knowledge Ready'.
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Paul Whiffen has been working in KM for 20 years, including Head of KM for three organisations in different sectors. He understands the theory and know-how to make KM real and effective from experience gained in both leadership and supporting consultancy.
 PMO Pulse of the Profession® 2015
 Pulse of the Profession® Capturing the Value of Project Management through Knowledge Transfer
This article was first published on Hartfield-KM Consulting on 30th March 2020.