Knowledge strategy – from the bottom up

Posted by  Shawn Callahan —May 29, 2007
Filed in Strategy


For a few months now I have been proposing a new way to do knowledge strategy that involves everyone in the organisation. There are three journeys involved and in the last journey you help establish a process (described here and illustrated above) that encourages lots of people to make incremental improvements towards a set of common objectives. We have mentioned here that organisations have similar objectives so you don’t need to create these from scratch.

This post is here to pull these threads together.

About  Shawn Callahan

Shawn, author of Putting Stories to Work, is one of the world's leading business storytelling consultants. He helps executive teams find and tell the story of their strategy. When he is not working on strategy communication, Shawn is helping leaders find and tell business stories to engage, to influence and to inspire. Shawn works with Global 1000 companies including Shell, IBM, SAP, Bayer, Microsoft & Danone. Connect with Shawn on:


  1. Arjun Thomas says:

    A very interesting perspective for implementing KM in an organization…. thanks!

  2. Steve Dale says:

    Shawn – the overall process looks sound and very practical. However, speaking as someone who has implemented a knowledge strategy for a large public sector organisation, I found the title of the piece slightly misleading. Without the top-down support from senior managers – i.e. a recognition that the organisation or business is not using its knowledge assets effectively – then I am sceptical that any bottom-up process can gain sufficient traction to make a difference.
    I tried to lay my approach over the template approach you describe, and was pleased to note there was a reasonably snug fit with all of the three journeys. The difference (significant in my mind) is that the first journey – creation of the mud map – was undertaken with the Directors of the Board, who (also significantly) recognised there was a need to change the way the organisation operated. Once staff had seen this high level support, there was enthusiastic take-up for the other two journeys.
    I guess what I’m saying is that the bottom-up approach stands a greater chance of being successful if you have buy-in at the top. Effort spent in getting this top-level buy-in is never wasted.
    Steve Dale

  3. Shawn says:

    You are so right Steve. The title is a misnomer which I will change to “top down and bottom up” because the first journey is all about getting leadership support.

  4. Patti Anklam says:

    Shawn, I love the illustration. It brings to mind the Emergent Learning/EL Map method developed by Marilyn Darling. The approach is based on the rigorous application of AARs by the US Army. Basically, the EL map would provide the way to capture what’s been done, what has been learnt from it and what needs to be done next. See

  5. Shawn says:

    Thanks for the reference Patti but I couldn’t get the tinyurl to work.

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