Monday, September 12, 2005

Best Practices! Are they Quick Wins?


In the context of a large organization, sharing best practices is believed to be a quick win in any KM initiative. True. But has anyone thought about how easy or difficult the whole thing is? Is it sufficient if one finds out who is doing something well and share it with people who are in similar situations and grappling with similar objectives? What are the challenges? Do the organizations that attempt to leverage on best practices consider these challenges and spend enough time overcoming or even better preventing them? Does the knowledge shared with a team (which someone else (read: KM champion/business leader) thought would help them) finish the job and achieve those beautiful results for the receiving team and the organization? What about looking into how best practices should be shared and whether the department/team/person with whom it is shared is indeed using it or not? Some of the challenges that need to be considered are as follows:

- the source of knowledge and its (the source’s) reputation – most people will not pick up best practices from a team they consider their rival/a team they don’t respect/a team they don’t technically trust/that has been ‘transferred’ by a middleman they don’t honor etc. thus, a lot depends on the relationship between the person/team giving it and taking it as well as the middle men involved

- the second aspect that will make a difference is the method of knowledge/best practice transfer – something like storytelling would probably have the best results while a dry declaration of something as a best practice minus even the minimum rhetoric, proof, results etc will perhaps not drive home the message. Even worse would be a ‘you do it this way because I say so and I know better’ approach.

- another aspect to consider will be the applicability of the best practice in the new environment. Differences (business, cultural, procedural, technical) in the situations will have to be taken into consideration and may call for customization/change/tweaking of the ‘best’ practice

- lastly, another very important factor to be considered would be the probable presence of the NIH (Not Invented Here) syndrome! If it does exist, then leadership will play a crucial role in combating it.

What do you think?

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