Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Year resolutions – staying sane

The start of each New Year brings with it the inevitable flurry of resolutions. It's the one aspect of New Year which drives me crazy as I usually resolve to make so many changes, or changes that are so momentous, that after a few weeks I find it all completely overwhelming and conveniently forget them for the rest of the year!

So, this year (as I resume my business after being at home with my lovely daughter for the first year of her life) I resolve to make a few small changes in my professional and business life. Most are designed with a view to my working more efficiently and a great deal smarter (the typical stuff of knowledge management) so I have plenty of time to spend with my family, while still providing a high quality service to my clients (not to mention marketing to and winning business from new ones). In other words, it's about time the knowledge management practitioner started to practice what she preaches! My first resolution is to actually update this blog more regularly. I've always had an array of excuses ready to roll off – I've been too busy over the last few years; I've been on maternity leave; I've been renovating our home; washing my hair etc etc. Check back in a month to see how I'm doing on that one!

Professional service firms have much the same issues as me (i.e. implementing knowledge management practices in order to work smarter). Judging by the number of enquiries I've received this week regarding potential new work, lots of you are busy acting on your own professional New Year resolutions too! Before you get completely carried away with your knowledge management ideas, can I suggest that each of you examine your resolutions and ask if they achievable and can be approached in small steps?

Chatting with some of my clients, it would appear that some of the greatest successes of knowledge management strategies I have developed for them have been those elements that, to me, were 'no- brainers'. It was the success of those quick wins that won the hearts and minds of staff and gave them the understanding to come on board and embrace the more challenging behavioural and technological changes identified in the knowledge management strategy.

Whatever knowledge management project you resolve to undertake this year, whether big or small, plan hard and think hard first. If you are resolving to undertake projects which have failed before, why are you resolving to do so again this year? Why didn't the project get off the ground or fall apart when attempted previously? Was there the necessary commitment, understanding and leadership at the top of your organization? Were the aims of the project thought out and scoped clearly? Ask yourself what went wrong and tackle it before attempting the project again. One of the most over-used quotes of this recession goes something along the lines that 'insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results'.

Now this doesn't mean that you shouldn't 'try, try, again' (sorry, but I couldn't resist it!), but instead learn from those projects that weren't completely successful and do try again, but in a different way - one that reflects the reality and workings of your organization. That way you can keep your sanity, keep your New Year resolutions and achieve excellent results! Now that's what I call a no-brainer!