I have been blogging regularly about the issue of Value and Knowledge Management, and also how Communities of Practice can take the initiative in determining value, and in setting their own targets.
Here's a story of how one KM Community leader helped define that value in a very graphic form. The story was told to me by my friend Johnny, who was at one time the leader of a highly successful Community of Practice in the Oil Refining sector. The great thing about Johnny's story is that way that the Community were able to personalise their target - to personalise, and make an enemy, of the waste in the production process which the CoP could reduce through knowledge-sharing.
"It is always a hard one - to wrestle with the value that a community can deliver. It is very difficult to measure somehow. In some ways you just know instinctively that it has made a difference, but to actually pin a monetary value on it, is sometimes very very difficult.
"However, we recognised that in the operating area, there was money disappearing. Every year, while the plants are running, we say "this plant could have run better - we could have got more out of this asset". So we have lost money somewhere along the line. We like to spin it around, and say that it is money that has gone to The Phantom. It has disappeared, you can't recover it. So we need to go after this Phantom Money.
"One of the tools that we have in the Community tool box is "Capturing The Phantom". We actually go after the drips and the bits and pieces like that. And shared learning is very important. If you can capture what people have done before you, you can get enormous value from that. We can start to measure that less and less money is going to The Phantom.
"People understand what The Phantom is, and they also understand that we can maybe capture The Phantom, but if we take our eye off it, The Phantom will come back. The Phantom will always come back!"