Knowledge Leadership Network – knowledge management teams in Covid19

Posted 28/3/2020 by Simon Burton

Knowledge Leadership Network – knowledge management teams in Covid19

CB Resourcing’s Knowledge Leadership Network met this morning to share insights on current challenges.

Our Knowledge Leadership Network brings together CKO’s and Directors of KM from global law firms, professional services, government, consulting and banking.

Many thanks to Rob Stubbs for the write up:

  • KM has been gaining in importance through the COVID-19 pandemic – insight is a key element of the way firms pitch to and communicate with their clients, and KM has seen an explosion in demand for content, and a glut of new POVs and other thinks pieces, forcing many KM professionals to  bunker down and focus on getting good content into production and out to the marketplace.
    • TAKEAWAY: Content management systems need to be robust – in the COVID-19 world, more content is being pulled down, and more created and flagged for distribution. A key question KM folks are facing is “what’s the best way to get this good stuff out to clients?” at a time of feverish demand.
    • TAKEAWAY: Likewise, with everyone working from home, and peer review loops elongated (or paralysed) how do you ensure what you have is consistently ‘on message’ and reaches your quality hurdles? Making sure knowledge and corporate comms are working together is important, since ongoing and close collaboration is needed to ensure firms speak with one voice on key issues. Editorial boards can be helpful here, and should include representatives of the KM community to support the development of a sustainable content strategy.
  • Working with globally disaggregated teams is hugely challenging for many parts of the business world, and KM is no different, although it was suggested that we are somewhat further down the flexible working path than other business areas. No matter where you are though, connectivity remains a challenge.
  • Delegates on today’s call noted a shift into “push mode”, with more proactive efforts being made to being together KM, Research/Analysis and SMEs to discuss content using tools like Slack.
  • We also noted an increase in demand for real-time data tools from a range of clients (from business to Government) as they seek to find their own answers. Engaging with content is good news, but there is also a valuable opportunity here to connect though Zoom and other collaboration platforms to share thinking and insights around the data.
    • TAKEAWAY: As last week’s Research Leadership meeting also concluded, this is the time to communicate with your clients to help connect them with the insights they are looking for. And in KM terms, a focus on collaboration and synthesis is good news.
  • Mental health is another key consideration at this time - knowledge workers may be a little more used to working remotely than other business communities, but KM leads are uniformly on the lookout for signs of the negative effects of isolation on their teams (…again, collaboration is a key plank in fighting this).
  • Technology platforms are a critical factor just now – from collaboration tools to document management systems. As mentioned, resilience is an important issue, but there are some other crunchy issues we need to liaise with our colleagues in IT and elsewhere for help with. For example, are IP authenticated data stores and sources catered to reliably through existing VPN infrastructure? If not, how are you managing that?
  • On a positive note, an underutilised workforce offers firms an opportunity to push more training on tools and best practices through busy KM teams. Making the most of enforced downtime in ways like this is a good example of how KM can help offset the destructive impact on business of the pandemic.
  • In discussion, we agreed that we will not be reverting back to “old ways” necessarily – there are no set timelines, and it remains hard to socially distance in the office However, since KM is well placed to support working from home, it may be one of the last in line when it comes to “going back to the office”.
    • TAKEAWAY: Part of the current attention being focused on supporting collaboration is the need to be able to redeploy resources across industries dynamically. Not being precious about your industry or practice and turning your skills to where they are needed through such fungible resourcing is just one example of what one delegate referred to as “more long haul thinking”.
  • Other areas we touched on during the session include:
    • The challenge of managing security/compliance around knowledge assets given the temptation of the workforce to use their own devices. Fostering a strong culture of stewardship and responsibility, as well as making the duty to protect knowledge and respect rules and guidance around its use, will help offset any “accidents”, though the risk is tough to eliminate.
    • Similar guerrilla tactics around collaboration tools (e.g. discussing projects on platforms like Zoom that may not be supported by firms) are another important risk vector for KM leads to consider.
    • Moving forward, as we accelerate through the first (and hopefully the last) wave of COVID-19, serious thought will need to be given to how people, processes, technology and governance can be deployed to safeguard and encourage good KM practices during times of crisis. However, while some cracks are showing, and busy teams are rushed off their feet, the renewed focus of institutions of all stripes on their knowledge, as well as the teams that manage it, can only be a positive.

CB Resourcing is the leading recruitment agency for knowledge management. If you'd like to discuss the talent landscape in KM contact  

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