Friday, October 31, 2008

Role of Marketing and Communications in Knowledge Management

The implementation of organization-wide knowledge programs or strategies are often plagued by the same challenge - finding interested / willing partners or clients. This is less of a challenge when a new core technology like a document or content management system is being implemented and driven by a central "owner" with funding, authority and control. But as numerous case studies published in various journals demonstrate, many KM- related initiatives are change initiatives launched after looking at how work is done (process and practice) through the "lens of KM." Examples come to mind like evolving a more knowledge sharing culture, globally instituting practices such as peer assists, after action reviews, and project retrospectives, or integrating various social/collaborative tools in the workplace that fundamentally affect how people work and require effective collaborative practices and behavour to deliver value.

Voluntary change in any form must be driven by a desire to move away from an undesirable current state and / or a desire to move towards a desired future state. This requires recognizing and acknowledging that the current situation is undesirable on one hand, and the ability to envision a more desirable future on the other.

Internal communications plays a vital role in most organizations by keeping employees informed of what is going on around them - events, appointments, jobs posted, announcements, and even human interest stories about colleagues. Vehicles tend to be internal newsletters, broadcast emails, RSS based news feeds, "ticker tapes" and content published on corporate intranets. And often, internal communications groups are involved in organizing hosting employee events for special occassions, whether social, like a holiday party, or business, like the launch of a new strategic plan.

In the context of a knowledge program or strategy, internal communications can play a more vital role well beyond the traditional, somewhat transactional role of communicating things of more immediate interest - that of marketing communications.

Looking at the strategic view, internal communications can assist knowledge programs / strategies by:

  • helping identify, define and characterize target markets within the organization
  • educating the market about key concepts and business drivers that underly the program or strategy, and increase receptiveness for further, deeper conversations about problem identification and resolution
  • helping the target market become more aware of or identify their own explicit needs and opportunities / possibilities (creating intolerence of the status quo)
  • encourage members of the target market to seek out represenatives of the knowledge program / strategy for assistance dealing with current or imminent needs
  • assisting with positioning / differentiating / aligning the program/strategy/initiatives relative to other work in the organization
  • reputation management (sometimes "KM" has a bad reputation based on misunderstandings or unusccessful projects)
  • situating / orienting the program/strategy with new employees and newly minted key stakeholders and steering committee members
  • promoting an internal services group that compliments work done at a strategic or programatic level

Another view occured to me in the context of the traditional sales cycle, of: suspect -> prospect - > educate -> propose -> close -> deliver. Communication can play a key role in enabling program / strategy representatives to reach out to receptive potential clients and offer solutions.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Value of Visual

XPlane does it again. A great, easy to understand video explaining of the US financial crisis.

Value of Visual