Long-standing “waterfall” knowledge management (KM) practices are failing to meet the needs of the modern enterprise, and technology leaders must reassess their approach. Agile principles transform KM within the enterprise from lengthy, delay-laden processes to lean practices that seek to make sharing knowledge easy and adaptable.

For the same reasons that agile principles have transformed development practices, KM can also be transformed using many of those same successful principles. Here are three principles to focus on to begin your KM transformation.

1. Simplicity Works

Knowledge management requires a dual approach: light and lean. IT leaders are well suited to find technology to fix a problem, but in successful KM practice, technology is an enabler, not the solution.

Instead, knowledge managers should focus on building a KM practice that supports the agile needs of the organization, maximizing knowledge transfer in areas of need. To achieve agility, knowledge managers must look beyond the technology and build a practice driven by its users with processes that make sharing knowledge as we learn easy and seamless.

2. Trust Is Vital

The demand for knowledge to be shared within the organization is high. “Knowledge is power” has remained a habitual mantra for knowledge workers, hindering transitions to a successful knowledge management practice. Managers across the organization should encourage a safe space to share knowledge across teams. When knowledge workers are encouraged by leaders to share knowledge and when performance is tied to successful knowledge transfer, they are more likely to change their value system.

3. Work Together

Fundamentally, knowledge management is not a bottom-up or a top-down approach but one where the organization concurrently moves toward a shared goal. Organizations must shift to co-creating knowledge, embracing the idea that the more people contribute their experiences and knowledge, the higher the overall value. Gone are the days when all knowledge requires vigorous scrubbing to ensure that it is perfect before publishing. Instead, knowledge workers of all skill sets and experience levels work together to create a repository of shared experiences.

Productivity And Employee Experience Rule

Everyone wants to show their boss the ROI of their spearheading initiative. The value of knowledge management, however, is best measured in the productivity and satisfaction that it provides the knowledge worker. Users and contributors of this system are the judge, jury, and executioner of its success. Convince knowledge workers of how knowledge management can improve their productivity and contribute to an enhanced employee experience. The transition in culture is going to show a benefit for them in the long run. Managers should increase visibility and transparency of the adoption progress, gain knowledge worker feedback, and continuously improve based on their ideas on enhancing their contributions to benefit others.

If you are interested in understanding how 10 of the 12 agile principles can help to improve your knowledge management practice and change the organization’s culture, read my report, Stop Starting Over With Knowledge Management.

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(written with Christopher Langlois)