While they are usually owned by different departments in an organization, the knowledge management (KM), learning & development (L&D), and internal communications functions all serve the same larger strategic purpose: delivering critical information that team members need to do their jobs.

Think about it: We invest in knowledge management to help people quickly access things like best practice guidelines, case studies, policies, data dashboards, and human experts who can answer questions. However, in cases where people might not think to ask, we might “push” that same type of information out via newsletters and other internal comms channels. And in situations where people will require more than just a checklist or best practice guidance to perform a task, we might build a learning intervention to help transfer knowledge.

We can even think about KM, L&D, and internal comms as different tiers in a “knowledge customer service” operation.

Yet, in most organizations, the knowledge management, learning & development, and internal communications functions reside in different departments with limited coordination between them. In most organizations, KM will be aligned with IT (or possibly the research/evidence group), L&D belonging to HR, and internal communications either sits on its own or answers to some other group with an interest in controlling messaging (marketing, the executive office, etc.).

This can result in missed opportunities for an organization to disseminate useful learnings and innovations, rapidly develop learning interventions on high-interest subjects, and reinforce key messages across multiple touchpoints.

In an ideal world, these three key functions would form their own team (which we like to call “KLIC” – Knowledge Management, Learning, and Internal Communications) and present a unified service for facilitating knowledge exchange across all levels of the organization (and even among stakeholders outside the organization).

While it might be too much to ask for the HR, IT, and communications departments to give up ownership of these functions, the people responsible for them should at least form a “KLIC” working group and coordinate their activities day-to-day, with KM providing platforms and content for comms and learning, comms promoting the availability of training and knowledge resources, and L&D helping to translate knowledge into behavior change and impact.  

If they aren’t in touch already, we would strongly recommend starting a dialogue between your KLIC functions and the departments that own them; it’s a mindset shift that can pay off huge dividends for informing and upskilling your workforce.  On a practical level:

  • Have your Knowledge Management and Learning & Development functions discuss “courses vs. resources.” In what cases might it be better to simply make checklists and guidance documents readily available at the point of performance instead of training people on a process or skill months or years in advance and hoping they’ll remember? And in what cases do people truly need the context and guidance from an expert facilitator that can only come from a course or coaching program?

  • Have L&D talk to Internal Comms about “marketing” their courses and coaching/mentoring programs.  Oftentimes, learning & development teams will develop wonderful training programs that fail to reach their intended audience due to simple lack of awareness.  Internal communications can help here, spreading the world about available on-demand courses and upcoming learning events.   Internal comms can also help send “nudge” messages in the weeks and months leading up to and following a learning event (e.g., reminding managers to check their biases regularly following an unconscious bias training workshop).

  • Have Knowledge Management and Internal Comms develop a joint content strategy.  Internal communications usually needs substantive content for its newsletters, blogs, and podcasts, while KM often needs help making people aware of all the resources available on the organization’s platforms.  Working together, KM can supply timely content to comms and comms can provide exposure for the KM team.

If you’d like to discuss strategies to help your KM, L&D, and Internal Comms functions “KLIC” together, contact Sonata Digital’s team for a consultation.