Climate change and knowledge management - Attitudes


In the Moral Maze episode on climate change last October 13th, one of the witnesses mentioned a fact that struck me as relevant to what we do as knowledge managers. He pointed out that the attitude towards climate change is split as follows: 20 per cent of the population understand and believe the science of climate change, they are motivated and change their behaviour to help solve the problem; another 20 per cent, are complete deniers and think climate change is not real, so they ignore the issue; the remaining 60 per cent believe the science behind it, acknowledge the problem, but do not want to be bothered by it, so they just do not take any particular action. The recommendation stated by this guest was that public policy should then focus on that 60 per cent of the population, since the 20 per cent "believers" are already motivated enough and the 20 per cent "deniers" would be too hard to approach.

While numbers may slightly vary and the actual attitudes be more nuanced than that, I have lived first hand a similar distribution on when it comes to employees´ attitude towards knowledge management:
the 20-20-60. Some employees periodically contribute with their experience and content to the available platforms while some other do not see any need to change. Most of the employees and colleagues I have worked with, however, have always acknowledged the need for a better management of knowledge, more collaboration and an improved sharing of experience and lessons.
This majority are however not really willing to take concrete action (e.g. "what, a new tool?", "that now, with all I have to do?"), and most of the time for good reason. 
If knowledge managers have to prioritize their activities (and we do have to!), we should then target initially that majority in a way that is appealing to them, but how would that be? Of course, it is not an easy answer, though we can paint with a broad brush the main elements to take into account. That is, since most of that 60 per cent already support KM and see its advantages, we should focus on just making life easier for them. For example:

  • Do not bother to explain too much of why KM is needed (they already know!).
  • Create better interfaces, layouts, "eye-candiness". Invest in user experience.
  • Reward their contributions and new way of working. Free stuff usually works ;)
  • And of course, always support the new users swiftly if they have questions or suggestions - they are doing an effort to exit their comfort zone, so do not disappoint them!

Finally, in that same episode of the Moral Maze it was mentioned that in order to bring attention to the problem, calling it "climate change" would not be appealing enough, that we should start calling it something eliciting a stronger reaction. This also made me think that maybe "knowledge management" is a boring term nobody cares about, and that we should do better. What other shocking names would you suggest for it?

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