Creating relevant content

Posted by Cindy Farris Thu, 15 Feb 2007 17:56:00 GMT

A key principle of adult learning theory is relevancy.  Adults are motivated to learn when they perceive that the knowledge gained will help them perform more efficiently and effectively.  Based on results from local research on relevancy, members indicated that information is important or relevant when it does the following:

  1. Increases their ability to attract and retain more clients
  2. Increases their income potential
  3. Increases their knowledge base

 The key elements of content are data and information.  These elements out of context are meaningless points, but when connected they have the potential to represent knowledge.  They only become knowledge when one is able to realize and understand the patterns/relationships and their implications.  Relevant content in KM tools is created when you are able to “connect the dots” for the end user.  This “knowledge” has a high level of reliability or predictability and can consistently produce the same level of results.

 Tips for Streamlining Content

  • Bureaucracy elimination – remove unnecessary information
  • Duplication elimination – remove identical information, descriptions or definitions that are discussed in different parts of the content
  • Value added assessment – evaluate content to determine if it is meeting the member’s needs or expectations
  • Simplification – reduce the complexity of processes or instructions
  • Simple language – make it easy to comprehend by all who use the content; reduce the complexity of the way we write and talk
  • Standardization – select a single way of presenting information, a process or “how to” instruction and be consistent throughout the content



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Deciding on the right delivery tool for your organization

Posted by Cindy Farris Thu, 15 Feb 2007 17:57:00 GMT

Implementing a KM program in your association can feel overwhelming.  You can choose to outsource your KM development or do it yourself.  If you decide to do it yourself, it is best to start with simple projects and then build upon your successes.  You’ll soon learn which KM solutions your members find valuable and they will “point you in right direction” when deciding on future KM initiatives.  Here are some ideas.

Getting Started with KM

  • Develop quick reference or “how to” guides on topics important to your members

o       Examples – “How to” instructions for the most frequently used processes in the MLS. (how to upload a photo, do a custom search, etc…)

  • Put a PDF of your MLS Rules and Regulations including best practices and examples on your Web site.

Next Level

  • Online searchable MLS Rules and Regulations tool with examples, notes, and best practices
  • Structured blogs on current trends in the industry

Moving Ahead

  • Mixing several online searchable KM tools to create an online learning community

Click here for examples of Knowledge Sharing Tools

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Using process improvement techniques to add value to content

Posted by Cindy Farris Thu, 15 Feb 2007 14:57:00 GMT

Ye old knowledge management truth – automating a mess just produces a faster mess.

Source: H. James Harrington, Business Process Improvement

Not all knowledge is good knowledge.  KM solutions are more effective when the content undergoes a business process improvement (BPI) review.  There are numerous types of business process improvement systems; some are very complex and quite costly to implement.  The following process is a simplified system based on the Six Sigma five-step process for quality improvement initiatives called DMAIC (da-MAY-ihk)

Define the problem/challenge and member requirements/expectations – needs assessments are essential to creating successful knowledge sharing solutions.  You can not build in a vacuum; you have to understand your member and the need you’re trying to satisfy through a knowledge tool.  Examples of needs assessment tools:

  • Surveys, exit polls, focus groups, SME interviews, round table discussions

Measure the problem/defects and member requirements/expectations – another knowledge management truth from H. James Harrington, “if you cannot measure it, you cannot control it, if you cannot control it, you cannot manage it.”  If you want to manage knowledge in your organization you have to control it.  The use of confirmation of learning exercises and performance measurements are two of the easiest ways to implement metrics in your association.  Examples of metrics:

  • Confirmation of learning exercises at the conclusion of a learning experience.  The group pass rate confirms the success or failure of the transfer of learning.
  • MLS violations rate before and after the implementation of online MLS Rules solution.

Analyze the issues and understand the causes – this ties back to the needs assessment process.  To develop effective solutions, you need to fully understand all of the underlying issues and the cause of the issues.  This isn’t easy to do – members can express a learning need, but may have difficulty articulating their expectations of the learning experience.  Examples of how to analyze issues:

  • Using root cause analysis with a focus group:
    • First phase – brainstorm all possible cause of a problem or issues
    • Second phase – narrow the list of causes down to 3-7 and prioritize through group voting
    • Third phase – prepare a detailed analysis of the narrowed list of possible causes

Improve the process – remember that not all knowledge is good knowledge.  This is your opportunity to leverage the skills and talents of top performing members to benefit all of your members.  Example of improving the process:

  • Interview SMEs to learn best practices for researching and interpreting public records; document these practices; apply BPI to refine the practices and make them repeatable with consistent results.  Publish the refined practices.

Control the process – using metrics to control the process and ensuring that it produces consistent results enables you to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the outcome.  Example of how to control the process:

  • Implement confirmation of learning in a facilitated knowledge session to ensure that learners are able to repeat processes shared in the classroom.  Learners are required to score 80% or higher on the exam and each facilitator must maintain a pass rate of 85% or higher in each session.  Learners are given the opportunity to retest is they are unsuccessful in achieving the target score.  If facilitators fall below the target pass rate, they are coached on knowledge transfer skills.


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