posted 31 Oct 2005 in Volume 9 Issue 3
Introducing the employee knowledge lifecycle
By Clive Flashman, Head of NRLS & Information Systems, National Patient Safety Agency, NHS
Talking about personalising KM is nothing new. There was an article in this magazine about it last month, and Mick Cope has been talking about it for years. However, the employee-knowledge-lifecycle (EKL) model is a little different. This is a way of conjoining the KM tools and techniques relevant to each knowledge worker to the stage they have reached in their career within their current organisation. Although I originated the concept of the model, some further thinking on it has already been done with Tricia Ford from PITO under the auspices of the London Knowledge Network.
The model uses the metaphor of the human lifecycle and overlays this onto the knowledge worker’s career progression in his/her organisation. Hence, birth = induction, death = leaving the organisation. The model has recently been widened so that it includes ‘conception’ – going for an interview, researching the organisation beforehand, as well as ‘life after death’ – how the organisation engages its community of alumnis.
At each stage of the model (goes the premise), certain KM tools and techniques will be more appropriate, others less so. Some tools and techniques straddle most of the stages of the model, in which case the way that they are applied at each stage may be different. The members of the London Knowledge Network have had a series of creative sessions where we have mapped our knowledge assets, opportunities and needs. Where possible, these have been mapped onto the EKL to start off content for each stage of the model.
It is important to recognise that all too often, KM projects fail despite having senior management buy-in, often because the bulk of the knowledge workers do not recognise the value in adopting new KM tools and/or techniques. The EKL rejects the idea of treating an organisation’s workforce as a homogeneous mass, and instead concentrates on the relevancy of each tool to each individual member of staff.
The model recognises that as workers progress on their career path through an organisation, their general ‘mood’ changes. From their induction when they are enthusiastic and trusting, many staff feel later in their careers (in the same organisation) jaded and more sceptical. They are less trusting of new ideas and more likely to resist change. If the worker is at this later stage of the model, then tools that might have been embraced earlier on may now be dismissed out of hand. The reason for using them may have changed, and the employee may require greater ‘ownership’ of the concept than before.
Models by their nature are generic, and there are bound to be exceptions that can be found to the EKL. Yes, people may progress to a later stage in the model, but then could move back again (for example, if promoted to a new role). People may straddle more than one stage at a time. Nevertheless, the model can still be effectively applied if we remember:
People within the same organisation are different;
A knowledge tool that works for one person may not be suitable for another;
Staff have very different levels of resistance to change, often correlating to the length of time they have been in their organisation;
Knowing the tool to apply at each stage of the model is not enough to succeed;
Experience of applying the tool/ technique is essential.
Our aim is to create a reference guide of KM tools and techniques, showing levels of relevance at each stage of the model, as well as real-life experiences of how they have been applied. To achieve this, wider collaboration is essential. We have put some materials on a message board at www.knowledgeboard.com/forum/0/190 and would welcome your contributions; tools, techniques, experiences – all are gratefully received.