How to Develop a Successful KM Strategy (Part 1)

David Kamien

David Kamien

David is the CEO and co-founder of Mind-Alliance Systems and he has the overall responsibility for Mind-Alliance’s vision, market direction, product strategy, and operations.


NOTE: This is the first post in a three part series, “How to Develop a Successful Knowledge Management Strategy”

Enterprises are increasingly looking for ways to improve information sharing, collaboration, and knowledge management (KM). While the specific reasons vary from industry to industry, common goals include:

  • To enhance the efficiency of strategy development, planning, and operational work processes
  • To streamline the flow of information within the organization and enhance collaboration with external partners
  • To support decision making with better intelligence
  • To focus knowledge resources on addressing planning and execution priorities
  • To retain and reuse institutional knowledge
  • To create a more adaptable workforce and agile organization

Whatever the reasons for a KM and collaboration initiative, we see too many KM teams/functions “rushing in” without first clarifying their strategic objectives, targets, capabilities and needs for support. Furthermore, they do not spend time building a shared understanding of the KM value proposition among the relevant stakeholders.

To get buy-in, KM teams must align their KM strategy development effort with the vision, mission, strategic objectives and change initiatives of their organization.

The Mind-Alliance Approach

Here are some of the approaches Mind-Alliance uses to accomplish this:

  • Study the organizational environment, structure, stakeholders, current change initiatives, annual reports, process documents, environmental context, opportunities and risks, current position, drivers for change, stakeholders, and cultural factors.
  • Conduct a knowledge scan/audit workshop to identify the highest value, most critical knowledge topics and artifacts in the organization.
  • Create a framework for identifying the KM issues that need to be studied.
  • Conduct interviews and surveys to identify issues, problems, and desired improvements related to the organization’s ability to: manage critical knowledge topics, engage in sensemaking, capture and apply institutional knowledge, produce intelligence that supports decision making, communicate and share information effectively, and achieve situational awareness.
  • Analyze the results, categorize the issues by type, and consolidate findings.

At this point, the KM team should have a thorough understanding of the KM, information sharing, and collaboration issues impacting the organization and be able to map them to the specific business objectives they are hindering. With the mapping complete, the issues can be prioritized, and the organization can decide to reframe the target outcomes, gains, and benefits from the KM and collaboration program.

By aligning the KM effort with the organization’s business objectives, ensuring all stakeholders understand the value of the KM initiative, and engaging in “diagnosis before prescription” by creating a prioritized set of issues to address, you’ll have laid the foundation for a robust KM Strategy.

In the next blog post, we’ll discuss how to organize the effort to craft a successful KM & Collaboration strategy, and examine its key elements.