Dominique Poole-Avery, Global Knowledge Manager and Associate at Arup, explores the potential of CILIP’s new KM Chartership programme.
“I am delighted to see CILIP establishing the route to KM Chartership and keen to see that the route addresses the diversity of Knowledge Management practices. At Arup our approach to Knowledge Management is tightly aligned to our business strategy and focuses on connecting our people to achieve our strategic aims.
“Connectivity is highly valued in Arup, and cultivating connections between people is fundamental to vibrant knowledge exchange within Arup. We have developed tools and systems as enablers to facilitate this exchange. When we advise other organisations, we take care to recognise that they have very different business drivers and their approaches to Knowledge Management should respond to these.
“Some have more of a focus on codifying knowledge and embedding it into pre-determined processes which aligns with their business strategy, and all are at different levels of -maturity in their KM journey. So, given this diversity, having a curriculum to provide a common framework for the development of skills and knowledge will be transformative for firms and individuals to build capability in Knowledge Management.”
“Arup very much supports people in becoming chartered. We have such a breadth of disciplines and skills that already have an established route to chartership. Having a KM equivalent is important, both internally for parity with other professions, but also externally where it provides a recognition of professional competence with other KM professionals.”
Alignment to the KM Standard ISO 30401
ISO has recently published the first International standard for KM. Dominique said: “Rather than being prescriptive, the standard sets out principles on how to approach KM. Instead of dictating how to apply something, it shows how you might achieve that performance. This allows for a diversity of approaches to KM which respects the strategic goals of different industries and businesses while providing a common framework.”
She also thinks it will help address common misconceptions about technology. “We’ve often encountered organisations who have sought out technology solutions before fully understanding the business problem they are looking to solve. I would like to think that the standard will improve awareness and understanding of the fundamentals. Within Arup, we always aim to apply the principle of gaining a good understanding of the problem to be solved, recognising how people and behaviours contribute to solving the problem and applying processes and technology as an enabler.”
Relevance of KM to business
“Given we’re a global independent firm of designers, planners, engineers, consultants and technical specialists, working across our built environment, knowledge and collaboration is fundamental to delivering the full potential of our collective capability,” says Dominique.
Organisations address this challenge in different ways and at Arup Dominique says that they connect their people within skills-based communities, known as Skills Networks. She said: “One of the tools actively used by our Skills Networks to connect people, to share information and experience in specific topics is our in-house discussion forums. Their widespread use and integration within our Skills Networks mean that people feel comfortable openly discussing issues and offering advice. Colleagues have commented that the advice received in a friendly and constructive manner in response to questions posed on the forum is invaluable.”
She adds: “When I’ve talked about our forums with other organisations they’ve said ‘How do we get people to use them because we’ve tried these things and we struggle to get engagement.’ The success of our discussion forums is attributed to our highly collaborative culture and the tool we use was designed to support this culture and facilitate these exchanges.”
Dominique sees chartership’s potential to bring KM together as a selling point for new KM professionals too, giving them direction and freedom. “I have a graduate in my team with a background in computer science and business strategy. She’s bright and she’s starting out in her career which could develop in several different directions. The appeal of KM chartership is that it addresses some fundamental skills that I believe will support her both in her current role and in a number of different career paths going forwards. Specific examples include transferable skills in stakeholder engagement, leadership and advocacy and developing strategic thinking. Ultimately having a professional home and opportunities for networking and ongoing development are valuable for continued professional development.”
KM lessons learnt at Arup
“There’s often a common misconception that if we write it down then it’s providing value. It’s not. People have to know what questions to ask and have the mindset to search and discover. The development of a culture of enquiry is equally important in making the most of our collective knowledge. We recently undertook a pilot project to address knowledge transfer from retirees. This senior colleague had held a role as a global Skills Leader and through the process was able to convey lessons learned to the next Skills Leader, as well as identify opportunities for colleagues to nurture external relationships that he’d initially established.
To identify the critical areas for knowledge transfer involved a series of exploratory questioning discussions spanning his career, which was fascinating and a valuable experience. One significant lesson from this pilot was a recognition of the value in having the potential recipients of the knowledge involved in the process from the earliest stage.”
Chartership may also prove timely as the profession meets the needs of new generations.
“Generational diversity is an area that really interests me. There’s such a difference in the way that different generations consume, transfer and interact with knowledge coupled with a world that is ever increasing in complexity and speed. As a business we need to be agile to respond to complex challenges. We recognise that there’s a generation for whom the rate of consumption of knowledge and information is fast.
“They expect corporate systems and processes to work with the same speed and ease of use as those used outside of work. We have a great opportunity to engage with this generation if, as an organisation, we can use their experience and insights to help shape new ways of doing things and get them involved when we’re looking to improve a system. It’s part of the fabric of everyday life now – consuming information about peers, about their interests and in a way that’s so rapid and ubiquitous – our challenge is to enable everyone to find and share knowledge and information related to their skills and projects in the same easy way.”
Chartership for Knowledge Management
For the first time, knowledge managers will be able to seek professional registration backed by Royal Charter. Following work with leading international KM practitioners, CILIP is piloting the new scheme with plans to open it to members later in the year – including a route for existing chartered members working in KM.
Chartership involves a self-directed CPD journey including self-assessment of knowledge and skills using CILIP’s online Professional Knowledge and Skills Base (PKSB) for Knowledge Management which is aligned to the new BSI ISO knowledge management requirements.
Submissions, assessed by CILIP’s Professional Registration and Accreditation Board, will include:
A 1,000 word evaluation statement, written as a reflective KM practitioner, answering three criteria focusing on: personal performance, organisational context, wider professional context.
Supporting evidence to the statement showing your self-development journey as a KM practitioner
Your personal PKSB assessment
Your job description.
For more details on the scheme visit the KM Chartership site