Our theme this year is Knowledge Delivered. Why?
We are all knowledge workers.
Knowledge is actionable information.
We operate inside organizations where knowledge creates value and competitive advantage.
This makes knowledge and content strategic imperatives for any business.
Knowledge is locked away inside people’s minds, in content, within repositories, within systems.
This inevitably makes it static, only moving toward out-of-date.
When knowledge is needed, users must be aware of that need, know that it exists and where, have the time initiative and skills to go find it, and access permissions to complete the effort.
To be a useful and usable asset knowledge must be delivered — when, where and in the right context.
This works best when organizations incorporate the right knowledge, learning, communication support, and high-value content into daily activities and operating systems.
To do this you must free knowledge from containers, so it can be delivered to cause action.
This is a foundation to breakthrough business results.
Exponential Change Impacts Knowledge Worker Performance
John Hagel and colleagues at Delloitte’s Center for the Edge have fascinating insights that apply here. We live and work in a world of exponential innovation and change, driven largely by exponential technology enhancements.
Yet most people and organizations operate on an incremental or linear scale: time, resources, learning, improvement.
This creates create risks, but also opportunities for those who are able to incorporate exponential learning into daily practices and even business systems.
Ask Better Questions to Change Thinking
Our clients must improve their sales and marketing performance and productivity in order to achieve top business results. The Knowledge Delivered theme illuminates new possibilities.
B2B selling organizations know they must arm sales, marketing and channel professionals with high-value content to effectively perform their jobs. The challenge is how best to do this. Unfortunately, too many organizations are unable to meet this requirement well.
A small mental shift can have a big impact on resolving this condition.
A good starting point is a fundamental change principle. To change outcomes or results, behaviors must change. To change behavior, thinking must change. One of the best ways to change thinking is to change the questions behind the thinking.
Implications for B2B “Content”
What does this mean in the world of B2B content marketing, sales enablement and customer experience?
We’ve discovered that when perspectives shift from “content” to “knowledge” different and more helpful questions emerge.
When the question is “What content is needed for ….?” we find this leads to thinking constrained by traditional packaging concepts about content. Discussions focus on the need for blog content, presentations, e-books, videos, etc.
When the question is phrased, “What knowledge is needed for …?” we find this significantly changes the conversation. It opens thinking.
Using knowledge as the starting point automatically shifts focus onto specific information or knowledge required for a specific purpose.
It shifts conversations from static concepts — content — to discussing dynamic actions that knowledge and communication support must both drive and enable.
Examples include questions like:
“What knowledge do sales people need to be more productive and effective at …?”
“What knowledge do customers need to … understand why they should address unconsidered business problem, … to build a successful business case, … to begin a buying decision, … or to make a successful buying decision?”
A related question addresses communication support. For example, “What support elements do sales people need to help them know what to say, and how to say it, to produce the best results in every key engagement scenario?”
A third question area relates to content operations.
We often hear clients start with the limiting question, “What can we create … given our scarce people, time and money?”
A more powerful and productive starting question is: “What content is required … to deliver knowledge and the identified communication support requirements to our constituents and their audiences?”
Shift Thinking to Strategic Support for Business Outcomes
When you start from the context of business requirements, the role and value of content is clear, right from the beginning. Required investments are better understood.
This questioning approach elevates discussion from tactical to strategic consideration.
The problem with “content” as the focus is, senior executives barely understand what it is. They consider it simply tactical support. They probably never used it in the strategic context required in today’s digital environment.
Shifting justification for these investments from how well specific assets perform, to the need to support strategy execution and to realize strategically important outcomes brings clarity to what’s required, and to its value.
For many senior executives today, content is not a strategic imperative. But they can easily see and understand what “knowledge” and “communication support” are. They naturally relate to why they need it, what it does for them, and the risks of not having it.
Executives value anything that helps them leverage the sizable investment they have made in selling personnel. They understand the strategic value of outselling competition, acquiring new customers, accelerating revenue growth, and delivering exceptional customer experiences.
Clarity of specific purposes, identified by the knowledge and communication oriented questions, will result in higher-performing content. This will lead to higher-performing individuals, functions and businesses.
Content is simply the way knowledge and communication support are packaged — for delivery and use.