The role of leaders in KCS and Knowledge Management

It is not always easy to involve senior management in new initiatives, like the introduction of KCS into the organization. Leaders are busy, have a lot going on and often have to focus on the most urgent issues. Still, we need our leaders to help making KCS or knowledge management (KM) in general, a success. In this blogpost, we’re going to look at the role of leaders in KCS and KM.

In the KCS v6 Practice Guide, we read the following: “Leadership is required”, “For most organizations, adopting KCS represents a significant change in organizational values and culture. This kind of change is hard and requires strong leadership”.

What does it mean, “Leadership is required”? What do we need from management, to make the introduction of KCS a success? The opposite seems to be true: the number one barrier for implementation of knowledge management is the lack of senior management support (source What can we do to help management supporting what is important to us?

The KCS Practices Guide provides help. One direction is to develop a vision and communicate this to the people in the organization. “We are going to introduce KCS”, is not a vision and will certainly not motivate people. It makes KCS a goal in itself and not a means to something (happy customers, for example). A good vision is compelling and provides guidance to employees, so they know what they contribute to. Developing a good vision is far from easy. Read these tips in the KCS Practice Guide. A nice example is Philips’ vision that is linked to the company mission: “Improve the quality of people’s lives through technology-enabled meaningful innovations – as co-creator and strategic partner for the Philips businesses and complementary open innovation ecosystem participants.”

Don’t assume that (busy) managers are at the same level as you are – that they know what is KCS, what are the advantages and what introduction means to the knowledge workers that are impacted. We can help managers by formulating a message that goes into potential concerns of employees. Next to that, we can collect “proof”, which shows how KCS contributes to team or corporate goals. Collect numbers and stories that support the introduction and results of KCS. This will give management munition to defend investments in KCS.

In short, leaders play an important role during the introduction of KCS, in promotion and support of the change. Communication to the employees involved is important. We can help management by providing numbers and success stories. Management can use help in creating the message that we would like to hear them tell.
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