Wednesday, 15 April 2009

How long does KM take to catch hold? Baselines and benchmarks in Knowledge Management

Over the past few years we have helped many organisations to benchmark their "current status" of Knowledge Management. They ask for this for a number of reasons. Sometimes they want to see where they need to improve. Sometimes they need to see IF they need to improve. Sometimes they need to set a benchmark so they have something they can measure future improvement against.

Recently we looked back on some of our benchmark data, and looked to see if we could find any trends. Well, we could.

The first trend appears when you look at how the overall benchmark score varies with the length of time KM has been addressed by the organisation. The graph above shows the overall KM score (from zero to 5) for about 25 organisations, plotted against how long they have been deliberately working with KM, in years. Bear in mind when you look att this that not all organisations want to score 5 out of 5, and that 4 out of 5 is a pretty fine score. Also note on the plot the two red points, which represent the same organisation measured at an interval of 2 years, showing good progress. Similarly the two green points represent a different organisation, measured twice, at a 3.5 year interval, showing a similar rate of progress.

My conclusions from this plot are as follows;

Firstly, changing the culture to become a knowledge-focused organisation is a long term process. You should be able to see significant progress within a couple of years, but it may take 3 or 4 to be really become the "way we work".

Secondly, companies start from different places. There is a big range of scores on organisations who are just starting KM implementation. If you already have a collaborative, open and supportive culture, you start at a higher point, and get good pretty quickly. If your culture is hierarchical, blaming and closed, it's going to be a much longer journey.

So - its a journey, it's a slow journey, people start from differen places, but steady progress can be made

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