Friday, 1 November 2013


15 KM failure factors, 15 KM success factors.


Crossroads: Success or Failure Two of the top 6 most popular posts on this blog are


I wrote these posts based on our long experience at Knoco Ltd in Knowledge Management Implementation, the lessons we had learned from our own consultancy projects, and from those we have observed closely at other organisations.

More recently I came across this article entitled Addressing Failure Factors in Knowledge Management by Rosina O. Weber, which is an analysis of KM failure factors through a literature review, and which therefore provides a similar overview of success and failure factors.

Here are Rosina's 15 failure factors. Most of these are covered by my 7, some are not in my list, and some of mine are missing.

1. Organizations that tried to develop a monolithic organizational memory for an entire organization have failed
2. KM approaches may fail when they do not integrate people, processes, and technology
3. KM approaches may fail when they are designed without input from all stakeholders
4. KM approaches may fail when contributors do not know the ideal specificity of knowledge.
5. KM approaches may fail due to lack of leadership support
6. KM approaches may fail when users are afraid of the consequences of their contributions.
7. KM approaches may fail when they store knowledge in unrestricted textual representations
8. KM approaches may fail when they rely on inadequate technology.
9. KM approaches may fail when they are outside the process context.
10. KM approaches may fail when they ignore impediments to knowledge transfer.
11. KM approaches may fail when they do not enforce managerial responsibilities
12. KM approaches may fail when they do not properly oversee the quality of stored knowledge.
13. KM approaches may fail when they do not promote collaboration.
14. KM approaches may fail when they are not able to show measurable benefits
15. KM approaches may fail because users do not perceive value in contributing.
Rosina then turns these 15 around and states the converse, to derive 15 success factors. Again most of these are covered by my 7, some are not in my list, and some of mine are missing.

1. KM approaches should be designed to support communities of practice.
2. KM approaches should integrate people, processes, and technology.
3. KM approaches should be designed in collaboration with different stakeholders.
4. KM approaches should identify an adequate level of specificity.
5. KM approaches should be strongly supported by the leaders of their target communities.
6. KM approaches should be adopted by communities that encourage innovation.
7. KM approaches should adopt representations with set of specific fields.
8. KM approaches should adopt technology only when it is suitable for a task. When technology is not adequate for a task and a suitable one is not available, then this task should be left to humans. 9. KM approaches should be integrated into the context of target organizational processes. T
10. KM approaches should include methods to overcome impediments to knowledge transfer.
11. KM approaches should incorporate means of enforcing managerial responsibilities.
12. KM approaches should include verification methods.
13. KM approaches should include measures to promote collaboration.
14. KM approaches should demonstrate how contributors can benefit from KM.
15. KM approaches should allow for the measurement of their effectiveness
My advice to the KM professional is to look at Rosina's lists and at my lists, and use these to drive a risk analysis of your Knowledge Management implementation. The more of the failure factors you recognise in your own approach, the higher the risk you face.

We provide a risk analysis tool to help you with this, which can be requested (free) from our Knowledge Management Downloads page.

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