Strong leadership and effective strategies are critical to success. The shift from work with tangible assets in predictable environments to an emphasis on mobilizing knowledge to deal with complexity and change requires a shift in perspectives and values as well as tools and practices. In other words, it is a change initiative that requires vision, direction and energy when starting out.
Work with knowledge is not mechanistic. It involves relationships, trust and connections across boundaries, culture, social systems and free will. A leader who brings a clear understanding of why knowledge is valuable and models effective collaboration is likely to have a great impact in changing the culture of the organization. In high-performing organizations leaders clearly communicate the value of knowledge to their agency.
Effective knowledge-intensive organizations have leaders at many levels. Strong executive leadership is critical at the start since organizational change requires support from the top. However, executive leadership must also be complemented by leadership from line managers, change agents, networkers and those who cross organizational boundaries.
Because this is a change initiative, clear strategies, a resource commitment, champions and the removal of barriers to success are required. When these pieces are in place, then the creation, sharing and use of knowledge takes on a ‘life of its own’ and becomes the way the organization does business.
The assessment questions: Leadership and Strategy
In this capability area, the questions help organizations determine if they have strong leadership at all levels and an effective strategy for ensuring knowledge is valued and managed as a critical strategic asset.
Senior managers should consider the following questions:
- Is the importance of all forms of knowledge clearly communicated to your organization?
- Have you identified risks associated with knowledge loss and, if so, developed strategies to mitigate those risks?
- Have you deliberately committed resources to build capacity for knowledge generation and sharing to meet strategic objectives?
- Have you supported middle managers and others to be effective champions throughout the organization?
- Have you identified and worked to remove some of the significant barriers to generating, mobilizing and using knowledge?
- Are the strategies and practices developed to manage knowledge, aligned with your business objectives and do they match the context of your organization?
- Have you measured the impact of strategies in place to manage knowledge?