photo | Tom Spender
One of the tools Sparknow has used before as a way of raising awareness of, testing the receptivity for and measuring the impact of, a knowledge initiative is an online questionnaire. We usually keep it to about five sets of questions and ensure it takes no more than five minutes to complete – about the length of time it takes to drink a cup of coffee!
It often kicks off a diagnostic process and provides useful pointers/insights into what an organization understands knowledge management to be as well as highlighting ‘the way we do things around here’ through snippets and anecdotes.
KM Mid East seemed like a good opportunity to stimulate a debate through an online questionnaire: knowledge management roles are beginning to appear in quasi government organizations and some recognize that the way ‘stuff’ is stored today will impact on its potential reuse. And this is being conducted against the following backdrop:
- Libya has descended into a civil war.
- The outcomes of the Bahrain protests are by no means clear.
- The Saudi authorities have just handed out over $37bn in pay rises and improved conditions to its inhabitants having reportedly adopted rough tactics with protesters.
The response from within the region’s commercial organizations has been to take a good look at disaster recovery, contingency planning and risk evaluation; assess their value of portfolios. Few would instantly associate this ‘burning platform’ moment with knowledge management but it’s totally relevant. In fact it’s what got me into this business two decades ago when a bomb blast took out the paper records my organization had and I led an ambitious programme in a Middle East focused investment bank to capture what we knew and make it available for reuse electronically. It was our attempt to create a one-screen view of a client and the forerunner of what today people call intranets.
So what has emerged from the Sparknow Knowledge Survey?
- The majority of respondents were from government organizations.
- Most people felt lessons learned were best examples of knowledge sharing at work.
- The spectre of poor records management looms large.
- Learning and by implication knowledge transfer are the areas many people believe KM should be addressing.
- While cash incentives are attractive carrots for some to share knowledge the majority wanted recognition and a sense of ownership in the outcomes.
- Unsurprisingly given the astonishing technological revolutions this region has been witness to, most answers to the question ‘the thing I always carry with me to help with knowledge…’ focused on technological solutions.