Congratulations on your success! You’re no longer needed.

After a number of years in the knowledge management space, I have come to realize that I know I am successful when I am no longer needed in the role I was hired to play. KM professionals generally get hired to “fix” things – better content management or search capabilities; better processes for storytelling and sharing; better mechanisms to capture tacit knowledge or connect people to people.

Once these systems, processes and expectations have been communicated and integrated into the way people work, what then? The goal for every KM professional is to work yourself out of a job.

KM professionals are like organizational SWAT team members – they come in, assess the situation, set up culture-appropriate processes, measure success and move on to the next opportunity whether it be within the same organization or a different one.

This is a scary proposition in a down economy…the fact that if I do my job right, I won’t have one in the future. But, I think it is the true test of success. Having KM processes and systems part of a culture and a way of doing business really ought to be our ultimate goal.

Now, this can take years…especially if leadership desires change that may not be indicative of the current culture but of a future state they envision. So, we can probably relax a little as we all certainly have work to do. However, we should always be looking for future opportunities to fix and depart from.

When Things Go Wrong

woods-2-pathsI don’t know if I believe in superstitions….if Mercury is in retrograde, gremlins get in the system or “ghosts” have something to do with my keys always disappearing. All I do know is something is wrong.

Lately, nothing has cooperated. Technology is not working, plans are falling through and desired outcomes are getting delayed or eliminated. So, whether it’s the cosmos out of alignment or the creatures you’re not supposed to feed after midnight, I am stumped as to the bad fortune lately.

Instead of sulking at the number of mishaps, as a true KM professional, I turn to capturing lessons learned and trying to pinpoint items in my control to look toward the future.

Sometimes we learn that items are not in our control, like technology, so all we can do is communicate the current state, apologize for inconvenience and move to a solution, band-aid or take an alternate path. I find the alternate paths, while vexing at first, can lead to great fortune.

I keep reminding myself that rarely do things go 100% according to plan and we should expect the unexpected. So, mishaps can be good. Conflict can lead to learning. Forced alternatives can lead to a better solution that we never would have thought of!

As long as we take time to reflect and dissect with a clear head, “bad” things can be good, and “wrong” turns can lead to the right path.