Patrick Lambe’s blog post about getting management read-in is very timely for me.
Patrick discusses how we might tackle an organisational audit across information management, records management, and knowledge management. The usual response is to write a report, perhaps do a presentation to senior management after the report has been read, and then establish the level of buy-in and commitment to the proposed project. Often, these types of projects are couched in terms of managing risk, particularly in document and records management.
I am about to embark on a range of activities at work, and partly for the same reason: the first project is to develop a business case for records and document management (including an assessment of risk). In addition, I will be developing a knowledge management strategy, and my team will be undertaking a content inventory of the intranet site.
Now I happen to think that senior management buy-in actually comes before the “reading-in”, as Patrick calls the report-reading stage. The work leading up to the actual report is just as important as the report itself, and must include conversations and discussions with (and between) senior management and all stakeholders.
Conversation, as highlighted in this book I’ve just read by Patricia Shaw, is critical. Yet conversation is often underrated because somehow everyone thinks that the right conversations happen automatically!
Patrick rightly identifies the difficulty of getting the attention and comprehension from senior management for a project. Senior management often does not understand what the project is actually about. However, it is up to us to start the conversation with these people as early as possible, defining the purpose and using appropriate language to enhance understanding. And sometimes, these senior managers may not even realise that the conversation they are having with you is actually more than just an informal chat.
If you can achieve that, your report will have a much better chance of getting both read-in and buy-in.