The “Why” Behind the “What” in Knowledge Management

By Lee Biggar, Director of Knowledge Management, Georgia Division of Family and Children Services VIEWS 4

As first responders, front-line child protective service professionals must be equipped with knowledge, tools, and supports to effectively identify safety threats to children and, when identified, take action to mitigate those threats. Simply put, lives may hang in the balance...


For the past two years, Georgia’s Division of Family and Children Services has been executing a comprehensive child welfare reform plan called Blueprint for Change which prioritizes the selection, development, and retention of a robust workforce, inclusive of its first responders. The Division’s Knowledge Management team and their cross-functions—first introduced in the October 2016 issue of APHSA’s Policy & Practice magazine—play a critical role in building such a workforce through the provision of value-added services, programs, and supports. This is what we do collectively. But each team member has a personal “why” that drives the “what”.


Case in point: About three months ago during our annual leadership conference our Deputy Director, Ginger Pryor, introduced Division leadership to the “Six-Word Memoir”. This concept seems to have originated when Ernest Hemingway was asked to write a full story in six words. It’s believed he responded with “For sale: baby shoes, never worn” (I’ll leave interpretation to you). Putting a slight spin on the memoir, we were challenged to come up with a “blueprint in 6”---six words that get to the heart of why we do what we do in support of the Blueprint for Change.  We were provided markers, construction paper, stencils, glue, and glitter and were instructed to let the creative juices fly. Unfortunately, my creative juices were on sabbatical that day because all I came up with was “Knowledge Management Forward Feeding Our Passion”. It sounded nice enough, but truth be told, it did absolutely nothing to connect with my “why”. So upon return to my office, I plopped my failed, first-stab effort on top of a stack of out-of-sight, out-of-mind paperwork that will sit there untouched and destined to get tossed out in about three years during a massive purge (perhaps a topic for a future blog).


Over the weeks following the conference I kept trying to come up with a “blueprint in 6 that would connect with my “why”. Nothing. Zippo. A six-word writer’s block. So I simply stopped trying, which apparently was the right thing to do because shortly thereafter, in the middle of the night, the following simply popped into my head: “What Happens After the Knock Matters”. Bingo! Finally, the WHY behind WHAT I do in support of our Blueprint for Change. So what exactly does my “blueprint in 6” mean you might ask?


When our first responders step up to a family’s door and knock, significant—perhaps life-saving—interactions are about to occur and the responder must be prepared and capable. That’s why we are developing a competency-based New Worker Academy; why we are providing a Supervisor Mentor Program; why we are partnering with Schools of Social Work to offer advanced training and educational opportunities; why we are providing timely and relevant performance data; why we are fueling the utilization of findings from quality assurance review, trend analysis, and continuous quality improvement efforts; why we are maintaining an up-to-date policy manual; and why we are continuously enhancing our information system. In short, this is why we are bringing value-added resources. Our workforce deserves nothing less because the families whose doors we knock on deserve nothing less. 


So what’s your knowledge management “why”?