Or perhaps, more accurately – ‘What’s out of a name?’?
I’ve been working with the UK Government’s Dept for International Development (DfID – aka UK Aid) over the last two years, and was recently struck by the way they name their Learning & Development function. They call it ‘Capability and Change’.
I really like that because it speaks to the outputs and outcomes of the work of the team, rather than the inputs they provide. And outputs and outcomes are what matters.
Agri-chemicals company Syngenta are also deliberate in this focus on what matters, but in the way they describe meetings and events. They have a great little structure which they call a PO3. (The one-time Chemist in me took a little while to establish that they weren’t talking about Phosphite ions.)
PO3 stands for ‘Purpose, Objectives, Outputs & Outcomes”. If you are invited to a meeting in Syngenta, you’re likely to be sent a ‘PO3’ along with the agenda or itinerary – so before you even arrive, you’re clear about the strategic purpose and specific objectives for the activity; you know what should be produced in terms of decisions and documents, and you have a good idea of the ‘undocumentable’ benefits of the meeting, and how it supports change.
I think it’s a great little tool. It’s one of the privileges of consulting that you get to pick up, use and transfer (with accreditation) nuggets like this from one client to another. The PO3 is definitely one of those.
So getting back to names which are focused on outputs and outcomes then. If Learning and Development becomes ‘Capability and Change’, then what does Knowledge Management become?
Ultimately, of course, the outcome should be business value – but that’s true for every management philosophy and improvement methodology isn’t’ it? So if we work back from that ultimate goal, what are the distinctive that knowledge management delivers?
For me, I’d summarise it as an I3. (Nothing to do with tri-iodide ions or hybrid BMWs)
Improvement, Insight and Innovation.
Those should smell sweet enough to any organisation.