Knowledge management has emerged as a panacea for improving business growth for most modern organizations. In fact, a lot of businesses have started using specialized knowledge bases for individual teams within their organization as opposed to a single all-encompassing database. But unfortunately, while most companies realize the enormous value of knowledge management, there are a lot of obstacles that can prevent their successful implementation. In this article, we are going to discuss some of the common issues that could result in the failure of a knowledge management system within a marketing team.
Every year, businesses introduce new processes and software to their teams without adequately preparing their employees for the change. This results in losses worth millions of dollars to companies across the globe as shiny new toy sits idle, abandoned, and unused. Knowledge management solutions are no exception to this.
The theoretical benefits of knowledge management are obvious: to maximize internal efficiency, internal co-ordination, service to clients, and overall profitability, one needs to make tacit knowledge explicit and keep it updated and accessible. A simple thing, you may think. But read on for just some of the reasons why marketing teams within an organization fail to make knowledge management work.
1. ABSENCE OF A KNOWLEDGE SHARING CULTURE
A knowledge sharing culture is one of the prime reason behind the success, or failure, of a knowledge management process. And to compound the problems, if an organization continues to ignore the fact that employees are hoarding content as opposed to sharing it, they are going to have a difficult time implementing it successfully. Marketing teams are no different. Most marketing teams are complex units within an organization that thrive on many different processes and strategies built over time that need to be documented efficiently for continued successful implementation.
While there are a lot of steps that marketing teams can take to build an effective knowledge sharing culture, the best route to take, is a top down initiative. A good way to start would be by conducting an anonymous poll for the employees within the team to see if they feel encouraged to share what they know with the rest of the members. It should raise an alarm if there are signs of employees more inclined to hoarding their knowledge. From this point, it would be easier to take the necessary steps to encourage employees to share what they know.
2. ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE
The formal structure of most marketing teams can be a profound reason for the failure of a knowledge management initiatives. Most such teams are organized by function, channel, division or product unit, each complete with its own recruitment, induction, and reward systems based on its “own” bottom line. This often results in confusion regarding the optimal enablement of a knowledge management strategy. Often the individual units start working in silos, without seeing the need for knowledge sharing within themselves.
To avoid such issues, there needs to be a centrally located knowledge repository that is shared across all the units, with a common owner who can encourage respective units to contribute to this repository. Once again, a top down approach, as mentioned in the first point, can be of help.
3. LACK OF A MEASUREMENT SYSTEM
It’s a fact that for any process to succeed, there needs to be a well-defined measurement system for measuring its effectiveness. Knowing for sure that something works out of the box, is a great initiative for employees to contribute.
The reason why a lot of knowledge management initiatives fail, is because the measurement systems are either absent, or they mitigate the initiatives by measuring the wrong things. They often measure the bottom line results, while they should really be aimed at measuring the KPIs and should allow for a full 360-degree assessment. For knowledge management to benefit from the metrics, businesses should evaluate contribution to and utilization of company knowledge in pursuit of profitability versus that of the competitors.
4. LACK OF TRANSPARENCY ABOUT MOTIVES
While defining goals and objectives, all marketing teams need to address transparency concerns. It’s important to acknowledge and address problems your team is facing head on. If the marketing team employees are struggling to find the information they need to execute a marketing campaign within budget and in a timely fashion, or if they have noticed a lack of consistency in the brand messaging, or if it’s taking too long to onboard new customers, etc., the senior management needs to hear it, and assure those concerned that these problems will be addressed with the implementation of a knowledge management solution.
5. LACK OF INCENTIVES TO USE THE SYSTEM
A lot of managers tend to make the mistake of rewarding employees that submit the newest knowledge articles. While adding information to the knowledge base repository is important, this is the biggest reason junk gets collected in this repository, making it hard to find the relevant information.
Teams need to be wary of incentivization based on the number of articles and activity. Instead, the goal should be to incentivize based on metrics like:
If you are in the (wrong) habit of promoting activity as well, try flipping it out to incentives based on focus on outcomes to see the difference. For even better results, tie these in with employee performance reviews, rewarding with compensation, for the best content pieces.
Change within a team, and especially one that’s as complex as a full-fledged marketing team, is never easy. But if you follow the steps mentioned above, and epically avoid the pitfalls mentioned, then successfully launching a knowledge management solution shouldn’t be a difficult task. All the hard work and investment will be well worth it. In the words of Etienne Wenger:
“Knowledge management will never work until corporations realize it’s not about how you capture knowledge but how you create and leverage it.”
Happy knowledge sharing!
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