Thursday 16 April 2009

Common enablers and blockers in Knowledge Management - Benchmarking continued

This is a follow-on from my previous blog post on Knowledge Management benchmarking.

The other thing that ten years of assessment allowed us to do, was to look at the common enablers that companies had in place to support knowledge management, and the common blockers where they were having problems. We look at 15 different elements of KM, based on the Nonaka/Takeuchi SECI model combined with various other critical factors, and of those 15 elements there are some that consistently are seen to be stronger, and some that are consistently seen to be weaker.

The top two areas of common strength are factors in the area of communication and capture.

  • Most companies had a good selection of technology for communicating knowledge - i.e. for enabling dislogue and discussion to exchange tacit knowledge. (This element scored an average of 3.3 on a 1-5 scale, in our same dataset of 28 companies)

  • Most companies also had pretty good processes for knowledge identification and capture, whether these were after action reviews, project debriefs, or debriefs of individuals. (An average score of 3.1)

The top two areas of common weakness are in the area of governance and accountability.

  • Many or most companies had no way of checking whether knowledge management was being applied - in other words, no performance management of KM(An average score of 1.9 on a 1-5 scale). If it's not managed, it remains options, and if it's optional, many people will opt out. We find that 80% of people in an organisation don't care about KM, and unless it is seen as part of the job, they won't bother.

  • Also many or most companies had no clear accountabilities assigned to ensuring that knowledge is reused (An average score of 2.1). They might be very good at "knowledge capture" or "knowledge sharing", but if it's nobody's role to ensure re-use, then the capture and sharing is wasted effort.

Now this may or may not apply to your organisation, but it's amazing how many people react to a need for KM by throwing more communication technology at the issue, or introducing more ways to capture knowledge, when in fact the problems and the blockers lie in a completely different area! It's a good plan to map out all the factors, and then address the gaps and weaknesses, rather than building on something that is already strong.

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