This is a continuation of Business Transformation for IT Leadership and is part of a journey around Organizational Change Management Inside the IT Support Organization . To achieve an active, vibrant, knowledge-sharing learning organization requires some baseline understanding of what your goals are. You need a culture that produces, organizes, disseminates, applies, and then refines information (see the image to the left).
This leads me to the next key point of which few people who call themselves “knowledge managers” have much understanding of –, information management is NOT knowledge management. But both information management AND knowledge management are critical components of a learning organization.
Information is the vehicle, knowledge is the destination
What is Knowledge?
Knowledge is the application of information, in a particular context, coupled with experience -–, it is NOT in some system. Information is stored in systems, knowledge is stored in people. Bill Wood, 2006.
Creating a Knowledge Centered Learning Organization is Really Exciting! (In the Sales Material)
Lots of folks get excited about the idea and even the prospects of creating a learning organization. Achieving a vibrant learning organization with a knowledge sharing culture can reap huge rewards for a company’s competitive position in the marketplace.
Even the Harvard Business Review has gotten on board and sells a few “knowledge products” of their own. Their pitch suggests that creating a learning organization leads to competitive business advantage. After all, when you have a workforce which learns and applies new knowledge, new techniques, new methods to addressing the marketplace you are creating competitive advantage. It is more than a pitch however and can in fact make a significant impact on your business and organization.
A learning organization requires a social component (people), delivery architecture (technology), and a structured method to share information (process). By transforming your SAP / IT Organization into a learning organization you are taking the first steps to bridge the gap between an enterprise focus and an external market or customer focus.
A learning organization requires motivation
The Wheels Fell Off My Learning Organization Bus
You’re excited about the possibilities, you announce your thoughts to your leadership, and you can hear a pin drop. Except for Joe the brown-noser no one is jumping on your bus! Why should they? It sounds like another fad, another task, something else to monitor. It sounds like you’re talking about one of their worst fears and frustrations–, you’re talking dynamic cultural transformation and they’re hearing social media and more work. Your managers are thinking “Have you lost your mind? How do I manage all this social media stuff when I have to meet my other goals?” My employees are already frayed, I have 2 employees going through a divorce, one of the two cries half the day and the other is despondent. Their emotional weight and negative energy are dragging down two of my departments and now I have to play policeman around social media junk?
Get the Employees ON the Bus First (BEFORE You Start to Drive!)
Before you start promoting the idea of creating a learning organization it is important to do this in manageable and incremental steps. The key is in making sure the key resources are ON the bus before you try to make the trip. Otherwise it might be a pretty lonely trip with an empty bus! It is important to get the broader business community in a more accepting posture for your SAP / IT organizational changes by using Change Management Strategies and Knowledge Transfer Processes for a Successful SAP Project 1.
Lasting Change Begins at Home
As part of a 3 tier process for transforming your SAP or IT support organization you might begin with Change Management Strategies and Knowledge Transfer Processes for a Successful SAP Project 2 so the business gains greater application maturity. As part of that internal focus it is just as important to address the How To Steps in the SAP Business Transformation Journey within your SAP IT organization.
The Right Information Right Now
The goal for the first phase is the right information right now within the SAP/IT Organization. After the internal IT support organization is immersed in information sharing it can then be rolled out systematically to the other two key areas of the Enterprise and then to the broader marketplace.
Build the infrastructure to support a learning organization first
The right approach consists of three tiers which look like concentric circles. These consist of creating a learning environment within the IT organization itself. This must include both push and pull tools for collaboration and information exchange. From there, the ability to build ad hoc and dynamic groups for decision-making, skills use, process insight, and other resource needs become the focus.
This collaboration approach is the first step to ERP III – Is the Integration of Collaboration the Future of Enterprise Applications? The three key phases to this organizational transformation include:
- Make use of collaboration and social media tools within the organization
- Deploy both push and pull information tools to leverage information resources
- Create an internal employee skills base (like an internal LinkedIn)
Once the information sharing infrastructure is in place, then you can focus on creating an information consuming culture within your SAP or IT organization. In other words, build the infrastructure to support a learning organization first!
High Level Steps to Build a Knowledge Based Learning Organization
- Build out the push / pull information infrastructure
- Make participation part of the goals / review / bonus structure
- Pilot this inside the IT organization
- Roll out to the entire IT organization
- Scale up and modify push / pull infrastructure.
- Pilot within a BU or business organization (i.e. begin to converge IT and the business)
- Capture lessons learned and adjust then roll out to the broader business community.
- Repeat the steps to roll out to the customer base…
- Repeat the steps to roll out to broader (possibly targeted) market segments