Updated: Dec 28, 2020
“The coming age of evolution won’t be driven by physical adaptation, but by human conscious, creativity, and spirit.” Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955)
By Susan G. Schwartz, PMP
Knowledge Management is a core organizational asset. Successful transformational change efforts begin and end with the documented and undocumented knowledge of the people who make the organization work.
Whether the knowledge asset is tangible or intangible, the mistake many organizations make is waiting until the change transformation is completed to document the “final” configuration. With tangible information assets, it is important to be able to identify the current state. Change is rarely linear and often the end state may shift due to events out of control of the transformation team. People leading the change effort need to be able to quickly evaluate new risks and select an appropriate option. If information databases are not up to date, the decisions made will not reflect the actual status and possibly cause additional delays and expenses.
Intangible knowledge assets often are the key to an organization’s transformational success. How do leaders recognize and leverage these internal strengths and behaviors? Often when people leave an organization, their knowledge leaves with them. A savvy leader can recognize, utilize, and share these intangible knowledge assets throughout an organization so that a tremendous hole is not left when a single person leaves the team.
Effective knowledge management, especially during turbulent times of change, begins with the simplest knowledge sharing activity: conversation. These exchanges happen within a relaxed environment where people feel safe to ask questions and offer up answers. Conversations begin with someone asking a question, another person answering, and a third suggesting someone else who has additional information on the topic. Until the question was asked, it’s possible no one knew the information had value.
Change leaders create safe conversational spaces where teams can engage in collaborative discussions that build understanding and solutions between a variety of workgroups. The simple act of asking a question may provide essential information or a new perspective that will steer the transformation effort toward an innovative solution that may not have been considered before. It is amazing to think how many complex transformational change efforts began with the two simple words, “what if”.