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.

Autumn Means Work

autumn_leavesWell, I missed my goal of blogging every week. I set out this goal when I started my blog back in June. I inadvertently took the last 3 weeks off because my schedule became overrun with professional work, outside presentations I have been working on and a full personal calendar.

Why is October so crazy? When you have a significant other’s birthday, Halloween, college football parties, raking leaves and companies ramping up projects to get done before the end of the year, October tends to be a pivotal month.

Apparently, we’ve played all summer and now it’s time to get down to business. The weather is crummy, darkness sets in at 4:30 pm so there is nothing to do but work. And, we need to be productive before the holiday time takes over our personal lives and forces us to take vacation to accommodate those plans.

Even nature gets busy. While I’m toiling away on my computer at home on Saturdays, I see the squirrels going nuts (literally!). They are in a hurry. Gathering as much as they can as fast as they can and heaven help the other squirrel that gets in the way. With puffed tails, the squirrels chase the other off and yell at them that if they ever see them in their territory again, they’ll get it.

Are humans this way? With October and most of November being crunch time, do we snap at others more easily? Do we expect more from our families and employees? To a degree, I think the answer is yes. So, focusing on health, sleep and sanity is most important during these crazy times.

October and November have to be the most productive time of the year! I know…what about spring? Spring is perfect for spring cleaning, listing a home, planting flowers, engaging in outdoor activities that we couldn’t do in the wintertime, and don’t forget planning for the projects that will commence in the Fall. We also lose an hour so we have to compensate for that lost time by doing more in less time.

Let’s face it…we are busy all year round regardless of the weather. The race to November 26 is on. Good luck to everyone!

The New Score: Work 32 | Learning and Development 8

baseballI recently read an opinion in AIIM’s Infonomics magazine by Mike Knoll, a specialist in resource management. He argues that we too often reward people for working long hours and that we interpret sacrificing weekends, personal activities and time with friends and family to mean people are dedicated, effective and successful…a real hero!

He posits that if you have to work 60 – 70 hours a week, you must need training or time to improve processes. Or, potentially, you are hoarding work that could be delegated because you’re afraid you’ll lose your value. Instead, he states that we should embrace the 32-hour work week for the sake of employee health and happiness, not to mention better efficiencies and results.

I say Bravo! Mike.

Shouldn’t we reward people for getting the job done right, on budget and on time…time that was properly forecasted to begin with? I don’t think giving kudos to someone who says I can get that done in week when it would really take 8 days is good business sense. You set unrealistic expectations and it shows lack of planning and poor estimating skills.

So, if we budget 32 hours a week for “work”, what can the other 8 hours be used for? Learning and development.  We want our people to be smart and stay up on the latest trends. Well, this takes attending webinars, reading books and articles, monitoring blogs and Twitter streams and even writing their own content as an expert.

Growth is a key ingredient for success and growth takes thinking, reading, brainstorming and tinkering. And, the most effective time to do these activities is not at 9 pm at night when you’re juggling kids, watching the 9 pm news and cramming a sandwich down your throat. The most appropriate time is in the morning or afternoon on, say, a Tuesday.

Schedule learning and growing into your day. Start estimating work at 32 hours a week and see how efficient and effective you can really be. And then go catch a Cubs game on Saturday!