"Knowledge management will never work until corporations realize it's not about how you capture knowledge but how you create and leverage it."
- Etienne Wenger, co-creator of the concept of Communities of Practice
Etienne captures a core issue facing large companies today.
With margins crushed, fewer resources, and greater competition, organizations must figure out how to operate more efficiently. One strategy to increase efficiency across your channel team is to bridge the knowledge gap.
To better understand this, let’s look at the four stages of execution excellence.
1. Ad Hoc Processes –No knowledge management system
2. We have processes, but limited adoption – We have a system, but few use it
3. Processes are being followed – We have a system and it is used consistently
4. Processes being innovated – Robust system in place and improving
Think about the inefficiencies of everyone following a different process and the implication that has on quality across a team. In contrast, consider the benefit of everyone following the same process and executing consistently day in and day out.
A good example is the model that McDonalds developed years ago. The process of delivering food to people fast is so automated and documented that anybody can execute no matter if they are in Topeka or Tokyo.
While we like to think we are producing more than hamburgers, this model is a good illustration of how documented process can lead to better efficiency and consistent quality across your channel team.
You need to adopt the Write Once Read Many strategy. Creating knowledge that is valuable to many will move you closer to a true knowledge management system.
Seems simple, right? The truth is it is hard to do. Here are some basic guidelines to developing a knowledge management system to better manage your channel team.
1. Use the right tool – Use a tool like SharePoint that is easy to use and organize content
2. Create logical structure – Organize content intuitively so people can find things fast
3. Assign content owners –Makepeople accountable for content
4. Be disciplined – Drive adoption and usage by all team members
5. Follow the process or fix the process – Audit content regularly to ensure it is accurate and complete.
We’ve worked with many vendors on their channel management efforts and see they spend to much time focusing on strategy. We also often see knowledge and success is siloed in key account reps or channel managers much to the detriment of the whole organization.
Are you supporting your channel management effort with a world class knowledge management system that helps inform your staff and innovate your thinking?
If not, you are risking your best thinking with unsustainable execution.