Do you leverage the power of relationships at work? Are you often the one rallying the herd? Do you mentor others in your office? Are you often discovering new ways to work, communicate and share with others? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be a knowledge champion.

Today on the first day of breakout sessions at Open Text Content World 2010, we spent the morning learning about knowledge champions and how they have the power to affect change within the enterprise. 

Early Adopters v. Pragmatists

When you think about who is influencing technology adoption at work, you may think that it’s the Phil Dunfees of the world. But in fact, it’s the pragmatics, not early adopters who push technology adoption over the tipping point. Those who approach technology from a practical perspective are more likely to influence others, especially if they have experience working and mentoring others.

Much like the empowered employee, knowledge champions are dedicated to their work, care about the organization and are actively engaged with others. Knowledge champions may not be the most vocal, but they like to help. Because others trust them, they can drive change locally as they approach technology adoption in a non-threatening manner. Those resistant to change often harbor insecurities. Being empathetic and sympathetic, but confident, can help hesitant colleagues learn in a comfortable and supportive environment.

Cultivating Champions

But just because you’ve been identified as a knowledge champion doesn’t mean that you know more than others, it’s just you’re empowered to contribute to solutions. Additionally, knowledge champions need support as well. Companies who can readily identify and enlist employees need to make sure that they are not taken for granted, for when they begin to feel unsure about what they are doing, they can affect much more than the project.

Though knowledge champions alone do not make a champion program, it’s a start. To effectively evaluate where you are with your champion program, ask the following questions:

  • What are you currently doing?
  • What’s working?
  • Where are you struggling?
  • Lessons learned?
  • What are the cultural challenges?
  • How you turn being a champion into a desirable job?
  • What changes are you planning?

During the session’s brainstorm the group talked about the challenges facing their company or team’s champion program. Lack of time, communication issues, team dynamics and cultural differences were among the most prevalent. Getting past the tipping point is definitely much harder than most expected, but many shared proactive approaches they took to help overcome these challenges ahead.

From wikis, to incorporating champion behaviors into job descriptions to simply facilitating feedback forums, companies are finding that in addition to helping nurture knowledge champions, they are also building communities.