Here's a good case study of the General Motors KM approach (and you can also find a more detailed description in Tom's book).
GM is a company with 327,000 employees that manufactures cars and trucks in 33 countries, and the driver for GM was standardisation of design and manufacturing approach, delivered through identifying, codifying and applying best practices.
Steve Wieneke of GM used an existing taxonomy to charter 138 best practice teams across 33 centres of expertise to work with the identified subject matter experts, to populate and maintain "Technical Memory", a database of explicit knowledge and best practice. About one-third of the database is updated every year.
According to the article
" Early outcome metrics are already beginning to validate the product engineering initiatives. During the 36 months in service, for vehicles sold during 2000 through 2003, actual warranty costs dropped by almost 20 per cent below forecasts. The catalogue of engineering solutions, technical memory and the closed-loop learning are three of the current 10 activities identified as the engineering enablers driving the warranty cost down.
Although not solely a result of the initiative:
- Product quality has dramatically improved;
- Time to market has been accelerated;
- Structural cost has been reduced;
- The engineering culture is progressing from hoarding to sharing knowledge and from reinventing to adopting and adapting what is already known".