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Knowledge Management Policies and Standards

Senior management in the organisation needs to make KM expectations clear by explicitly stating what needs to be done in Knowledge Management, and by whom. They need to write these expectations down, and keep reinforcing them by what they say. They also need to make sure these expectations do not get weakened by, or conflict with, other company structures and expectations.

One clear way to define expectations is to define an in-house standard, or in-house policy, for Knowledge Management.

 What does Knowledge Management mean in practice? What is an acceptable level of Knowledge Management activity? Does every project need to hold a Retrospect, or only the big ones? How frequently should after action reviews be held? Are Peer Assists a mandatory requirement, or optional? All of these questions are answered in the in-house Knowledge Management Policy.

Once the implementation team has tested and piloted the components of Knowledge Management, you need to sit down with senior management and decide what the internal corporate KM policy is going to be. For example, in one oil company, every drilling project over a threshold value is required, as the KM component of operating standards, " to develop a Knowledge Management plan", " to capture lessons during operations", and " to hold a learning review at the end of the well". These expectations are written out clearly, and have been rolled out to all drilling staff. The KM standard needs to be set at the right level. It needs to be just sufficient to deliver the required KM value, without loading too much onerous process onto the business.

The standard may need to set different levels of KM activity depending on the scale of business activity. The drilling company mentioned above, for example, requires lower levels of KM activity for wells costing less than $10m, than it does for wells over $10m. Production or service areas of your organization might need different KM activities from project-organised areas. The key, however, is to be clear about what the organization expects in terms of KM activity for each area of the business.

Senior management can be clear about what they expect in terms of Knowledge Management, by publishing standards, and by setting clear accountabilities. They also need to make sure that their expectations for Knowledge Management are supported by what they say and do. For example, they must assign the time and resource needed to manage knowledge. They must also make sure that the reward and recognition system in the organization is supportive of Knowledge Management. There is no point, for example, in expecting high levels of collaboration from the business units, and at the same time rewarding internal competition by sponsoring "factory of the year awards".

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