Monday, February 19, 2007

The (Charles Schwab) Foundation of KM

I came across a set of articles on how the Charles Schwab Foundation employs the principles of KM and found it to be very compelling. Here’s one particular extract from an article by their COO on their perception of how KM initiatives should be looked at. Wonderfully articulated, I think. (Underlining by this blogger)

While our knowledge management and evaluation team is a small dedicated staff, the importance of its integration with program staff cannot be overstated. Without that integration, knowledge management and evaluation is like the garnish on a meal – adding a note of color on the plate but often left untouched. We have made knowledge management and evaluation the spice in our dish – an element that is fully integrated with the other ingredients in our program and which flavors every aspect of our work. - Ann Christen


Chris Collison said...

You're right. That is nicely articulated.

I remember a similar discussion in BP, after the central team had been "doing knowledge management" for two years (and doing it very well!), the senior management took a tough decision to downsize the team by 80% to just two people. The metaphor went like this:

As a central consulting team, we have been feeding the organisation KM tools and techniques for two years - like a mother bird feeding her young in the nest. The time is now right for the fledgling to "learn to fly" for itself, or it will be come forever dependent on its mother.
The important thing now is to create the thermals which will keep the bird aloft, and enable it to thrive on its own.

How do we create those thermals? By developing a network of business KM champions who understand the tools and knew instinctively when and how to use them.
By covertly embedding KM principles and practices in existing processes.
By developing and nurturing the right leadership behaviours, and by challenging cultural barriers like "not invented here" and "tall poppy syndrome".

Sometimes finding the worms to feed the fledgling feels like an easier challenge, but the sustainable benefits soon wriggle away...

Nimmy said...

Thanks a heap for adding to this post! :) I love the bird metaphor that you talk about. I am convinced that an organization that has a network of KM champions can never ever return empty handed after implementing KM! And for creating a passionate network of this kind, I guess it's up to the KMers to inspire, influence and instigate them towards such a culture.....! :0