My association with Knowledge Management (KM) over the last ten years or so has taught me the importance of 3 ‘P’s – Persistence, Perseverance and Patience. In my humble opinion, a KM professional need not have the latest technical skills to survive and be successful but it is imperative that they understand and acknowledge the importance of the 3 Ps.
Although KM as a discipline has matured a lot, it is still approached by many organizations with ‘a good to have’ mentality. People are hired for KM posts and are expected to carry out responsibilities pertaining to maintenance of portals, sending out nuggets of information and responding to queries (more often than not these are not intrinsically linked to business issues). The result is obvious. KM professionals feel exasperated and feel they can do more, a lot more and contribute directly to the business.
My two penny’s worth of advice for fellow KM professionals (especially those who have just started) is – embrace the 3 Ps.
Persist, persevere and be patient. Look out for opportunities to connect to people as you carry out your day to day responsibilities. Remember you have a wealth of knowledge at your disposal. You do have to open the front end of the portal that you maintain though for that! Don’t be obsessed with the back-end only. Look at the content that you push in to the system and try to build patterns i.e. so who are those colleagues who might want to know about this?
And also remember Ruth Stanat’s “Drowning in data, yet starved of information” is still very apt and relevant in today’s world. And that’s exactly where we, KM professionals step in. We are the ones who can facilitate the process of developing an understanding of the information that we collect and store across portals and databases.
Time and again over the last decade, I have got a wake-up call – buddy, KM is all about people. Everything else, are just enablers. It is important to remember that people will take you seriously if you add value to the work they are doing. And you do not need to be a domain expert in a particular area to contribute in a meaningful manner. All you need is an eye (a skill which can be easily developed by listening to conversations around you, picking up bits and pieces from emails where you are cc:ed etc) for identifying that bit of information which a colleague of yours might require at a given point of time.
And don’t be shy in picking up the phone and connecting to that colleague. Make the most of tools like Lotus Sametime and Office Connector that you may have at your disposal. They are fantastic tools to break the ice and develop a relationship with geographically dispersed colleagues. Please use your common sense and be courteous and remember the 3 Ps. Keep your initial conversations precise and ask whether the information shared by you met their needs and if there is anything else that you can do. It will work (well not with everyone perhaps but with most)…it is just a matter of time.
Once you establish the contacts and develop relationships, you will suddenly realize that you have a lot more on your plate. Welcome to the world of busy bees. Don’t forget those 3 Ps though!