Capturing Content

In my last post I discussed Hardwiring KM Into Your Client Work as a way of improving your chances of actually capturing knowledge and making it available for reuse. The focus there was on specifically planning to capture knowledge and then organizing your project around that goal.

But how do you actually capture that knowledge? The good folks at HP have some suggestions in their presentation regarding using project management to advance knowledge management goals:

– Identify “checkpoints” or “milestones” within each project at which you can stop and take stock.
– At each of these points, ask “What lessons did we learn?” And, “How have we documented this?” And, above all, “Is this information in a centrally accessible system where it can benefit the firm and our clients?”
Within a law firm, these checkpoints or milestones arise naturally: when we win a client engagement, when our clients sign a deal, when a deal closes, etc. The key is to remember to pause momentarily at those points and take stock of the knowledge generated or improved up to that point in the project. And then, to make sure that the new or improved knowledge has been documented and contributed to the KM system where it can be of use on other client matters. By baking this step into our deal timetables and responsibility lists, we increase the chances of actually doing it. In addition, we need to hold the partner and senior associate on every matter responsible for this and then ensure they are judged and rewarded based on the contributions of their team to the firm’s learning. It’s their leadership that encourages team members to take the time to identify and contribute content. It’s their leadership that brings about the necessary cultural change — one project at a time.

The key is to make knowledge capture and reuse an integral part of the work flow of every client engagement. You’ll know you’ve accomplished something when it is no longer viewed as an alien, artificial activity, but rather as a perfectly normal and rational thing to do. That’s a KM success.

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