Wednesday, 23 September 2009

More reasons for failure - let's learn from BPR

Truck accident
Originally uploaded by Larsenio

Hey - I hope I'm not being unduly negative here, with all these posts about failure!

If we understand reasons for failure, we can avoid them in our own KM campaigns, and successful KM implementations are based on a thorough understanding of what not to do, as well as what to do.

Here's a list of 19 reasons why BPR exercises failed, from Hammer & Champy (1993, Chap. 14). I have put (KM) in the list instead of Re-engineering - see how many of these reasons make sense to you in a KM context.

  1. Trying to fix a process instead of changing it

  2. Not focusing on business processes

  3. Ignoring everything except (KM) [e.g. reorganisation, reward system, labour relationships, redefinition of responsibility and authority]

  4. Neglecting people's values and beliefs [need to reward behaviour that exhibits new values and behaviour]

  5. Be willing to settle for minor results

  6. Quitting too early

  7. Placing prior constraints on the definition of the problem and the scope for (KM) effort.

  8. Allowing existing corporate cultures and management attitudes to prevent (KM) from getting started. [e.g. consensus, short termism, bias against conflict]

  9. Trying to make (KM) happen from the bottom up

  10. Assigning someone who doesn't understand (KM) to lead the effort.

  11. Skimping on the resources to (introduce KM)

  12. Burying (KM) in the middle of the corporate agenda.

  13. Dissipating energy across a great many (KM) projects.

  14. Attempting to (introduce KM) when the CEO is 2 years from retirement

  15. Failing to distinguish (KM) from other business improvement programs [e.g. quality improvement, strategic alignment, right-sizing, customer-supplier partnerships, innovation, empowerment, etc.]

  16. Concentrating exclusively on design [forgetting implementation]

  17. Trying to make (KM) happen without making anyone unhappy.

  18. Pulling back when people resist making (KM) changes

  19. Dragging the effort out [1 year is long enough]

So, what do you think? Do any of those not apply? Maybe number 1 is more a BPR concern than a KM concern, but other than that the only comment I have is that number 6 and number 19 are in conflict, and I have yet to see a successful KM implementation that took less than a year.

Otherwise this view of a focused, managed, well-resourced, visionary, committed program, supported from the top down and not afraid to make waves, fits most of the really successful KM programs that I know.

Now KM is prone to ADDITIONAL reasons for failure, which you will find in older posts on this blog.

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