The KnowHow Toolkit

Keith January 18th, 2007

As mentioned in the previous post here, my current role is all about making it easy for our business sales people to access the knowledge they need to sell our products, services and solutions.  I lead a small team that is engaged in assisting our product managers and marketers to share this knowledge with sales.  We use a wide range of tools to assist us in this task. 

The team, originally known as “KnowHow”, commenced as part of a specialist sales team in 2000.  I came into the team from my previous role as a telecoms consultant, where I worked as part of the sales force.  Two of my former colleagues had already joined the team.  The rest of the team had a wide range of experience, including sales, marketing, education and media backgrounds.

We put together a kit of knowledge sharing tools.  A major part of this was the document library, called the “iStore”, which continues to be a major activity of the current team.  Over the years we have also used web-based newsletters, a range of e-learning and multimedia tools, audio CDs, and an online quiz.  One of our current tools is a weekly audio and web-conference briefing session.  We record and edit the audio, and make the files available via the iStore for downloading.  As the iStore also includes a subscription service, this is effectively a form of podcasting.

Andrew Mitchell, then a Telstra IT Architect, documented the KnowHow toolkit in Feb 2001.  See The KnowHow Case Study here.

The team started in sales, and having some of us with a sales background was critical.  Placing a major emphasis on understanding the needs of our target audience has always been a key to our success.

As the organisation has changed over the years since, the team has gone through a number of changes as well.  We have at various times been located in sales, marketing and operations areas.  We are now in a sales support area, and we have become an increasingly important part of the operation of our sales force.  Some of our recent initiatives have been given strong endorsement and recognition by Telstra’s senior management. 

Another secret of our success is a “middle-out” expansion.  We weren’t strictly bottom-up or top-down.  While it has sometimes been a rocky road, by gradually increasing our scope, building our tools into standard business processes, and gaining management endorsement we have achieved a good level of recognition and effectiveness.

Finally, the principal behind the “toolkit” approach is that we make no distinction between content, communication and training.  We see each as just a different medium to achieve the same end – an informed sales force.

This does not touch on some areas of our activity – how we “collect” the knowledge and keep it current.  These topics are for another day.

What’s the next step?  Watch this space!

10 Responses to “The KnowHow Toolkit”

  1. Do you SMIF?on 20 Feb 2007 at 11:47 am

    [...] We use some of these in Telstra – and we are currently investigating further use.  The document library that my team operates, called the iStore, includes a feedback option on every document.  We encourage our sales staff to interact directly with the product managers and marketers that write our documents. [...]

  2. [...]  You can read a little more about what my team does in this post. [...]

  3. [...] It’s all about accountability, not gate-keeping.  Anybody can edit – the default position is to trust people.  This has also been my experience with our iStore here at Telstra over the last seven years – trust people to share their knowledge openly and easily, and in the vast majority of cases, your trust will be honoured.  The more you “lock up” your knowledge sharing with controls, the less likely it is that people will share. [...]

  4. Stan Garfieldon 19 Jul 2007 at 1:45 am

    Hi, Keith.

    I linked to this post from my blog at http://h20325.www2.hp.com/blogs/garfield/archive/2007/07/18/3953.html

    Regards,
    Stan

  5. [...] Stan Garfield at HP has just awarded me with “Blog of the week” for the KnowHow Toolkit article! [...]

  6. [...] I gave my own answers to these questions at the conference.  For more of the history of our approach, see the Case Study in this post.  You may also like to read about The Ivory Tower.  If you have any of your own answers to these, please feel free to post as comments here. [...]

  7. [...] Where does the KM function ideally belong in an organisation?  This is the topic of a recent discussion on actKM.  I have been working in KM in Telstra for about eight years.  The role of my team is to make it easy for our business sales people to access the knowledge they need to sell our products, services and solutions.  Over this time, the migration of the team through the organisation has been as follows: [...]

  8. Keithon 18 Aug 2008 at 2:41 pm

    Historical note: The Case Study referred to here also appeared in a different form as part of a Standards Australia publication: Rollo, C & Clarke, T (2001): International best practice: Case Studies in KM. HB 275 Supp. 1 – 2001. The full document was previously available for purchase from the Standards Australia site, but it now appears to have been withdrawn from sale.

  9. [...] Last week I had the opportunity to meet Jay Cross – thanks to an invitation from Shawn.  Jay and I share some views on the role of learning in today’s organisation.  My main view is that making distinctions between learning, communications and content/knowledge/information management is an entirely archaic device intended to protect some people’s individual empires.  (Read more on my view here.) [...]

  10. [...] The next section refers to the material in this post on creativity in leadership, and briefly touches on my thoughts on Change Management. I then go over some of my past experiences with a Knowledge Management Toolkit, and how we went about developing it.  The final part of the presentation picks up on a recent post on story at Anecdote, which includes a link to the story of “the one-armed boy”. [...]

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