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What Are KM Champions and Why Do You Need Them? (Video)

Video produced by Steve Nathans-Kelly

Everyone wants engagement, but few know how to define it, which makes it challenging to pursue, measure, prompt, and reward. At KMWorld 2019, Elisabeth Brackman, associate manager, knowledge & training, Accenture Federal Services, reviewed what KM champions are, why you need them, how to identify and develop them, their role in KM efforts, and methods for continued mentorship used to retain KM champions. Brackman shared her insights during a round table discussion in a session titled, "Crafting Culture With Communities & Engagement."

Who are KM Champions?

"When I think of knowledge management champions, I think of them with a variety of different factors," said Brackman. "So first and foremost, I see them as a voice of support. They're kind of like the cheerleader for knowledge management beyond what I can do as a knowledge management professional. They can bring that into change. They can help drive forward those applications of change within the different areas of the business that we're trying to implement the knowledge management initiatives."

Additionally, they represent knowledge management within their specific business, so they bring in those knowledge management components, help represent the efforts that are going on, but they also embody knowledge management, said Brackman. "So they don't get the term 'champion' by just attending a meeting. They actually have to walk the talk as well. So we see them bringing about those core concepts that we're trying to get across to our colleagues or to other areas of the business by they themselves actually doing that."

What KM champions do for organizations

Beyond that, they also demonstrate the value of knowledge management within their specific business, said Brackman. "So why is it important that we implement a new taxonomy? Well, look at how much I've been able to find now that I'm searching for something that is tagged correctly. They can show that to their area of the business very tangibly. Additionally, they can build support within their area of the business."

A key part of being the change driver is the ability to bring people onboard. "But they can also help implement those changes as well. And then I also find that they are detrimental to making or breaking the success of a knowledge management program. If you can get your knowledge management champions onboard with the change that you're trying to implement and get them to speak for it, get them encouraged, get them excited about it, that radiates and that can help build your success. But, in turn, if the opposite happens, you bring them onboard and then you forget about them, they can also cause your KM programs to not be as successful," said Brackman.

Why we need KM champions

"So why do we need them?" asked Brackman. "The reasons that I found that I needed KM champions was specifically because they do make or break that long-term success. They've been there to help support the program. They help identify new ways that we can bring things to the teams that maybe we didn't think of before. They also demonstrate the value of knowledge management, as I mentioned before, directly within their business. So we can start seeing those tangible results, but we can also get new ideas from them of how to demonstrate tangible results in ways that we hadn't thought of before."

Additionally, and most importantly, they can be a voice of reason for folks that don't really want to hear somebody outside of their organization tell them how or why to do something, she added. "We've touched on this in a lot of sessions today I think about the importance of getting folks to be empowered and encouraged on their own without that pressure to do so and that's where your champions can really help play a role in. Additionally, your champions can be another member of your team that can help support and demonstrate the value of knowledge management to leadership. They can either show its overall impact, demonstrate why it's necessary, or actually show the tangible value as well."

Videos of KMWorld 2019 awards presentations, keynotes, and many sessions can be found here.

Many speakers at KMWorld 2019 have also made their presentations available at www.kmworld.com/Conference/2019/Presentations.aspx.

KMWorld 2020 is Going Virtual: NOVEMBER 16-20, 2020!

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