Monday, 26 July 2010

KM Implementation, preparing to stop

Prepare to Stop - 300420081386
Originally uploaded by roland
I was recently having a discussion with Alan O'Neill on KM implementation, and he made the point that "we have stories of organisations giving up because they view KM as a project, it doesn't deliver at the "discrete end date" so it is viewed as a failure".

Although I am a proponent of viewing KM implementation as a project (which then hands over to a KM operational and maintenance team, once KM has been embedded into business processes and business governance), I think Alan has a very good point. There is a huge risk of stopping your KM Implementation activity too early, before it has been embedded. I can see that if you plan a "2 year KM program" then the risk is that you stop after 2 years, no matter how far you have come, and if KM is not embedded at that point, it slides back or tips back to the previous state, despite the best efforts of the KM operational team.

I prefer to think of a KM implementation project as best approached as a series of decisions, with each decision moving you on to the next stage

1. The decision to investigate what Knowledge Management would mean for us in our organisation
2. The decision that the organization needs improved Knowledge Management, and to find out how much investment is required.
3. The decision to set up a KM implementation program, with a full-time team and budget.
4. The decision to pilot KM in high profile areas
5. The decision to roll out KM as a required discipline to the whole organisation.
6. Once KM is embedded, the decision to stand down the implementation team and hand over to management within the business (with the support of a central KM team to operate and maintain the KM framework).

You dont stop the implementation project until you have good evidence to support decision 6.

To do so would be like stopping a bridge-building project until the bridge crosses the river, and has a roadway across it.

So if you are to set up KM implementation as a project, then you need very clear deliverables (for example, embed a self-sustaining approach to KM in all elements the business, with clear governance and support, and clear evidence of sustainable culture change and sustainable business value) and you dont stop until you have got there. And even then, plan for a handover period, until operational KM is up and running.

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