Thursday, 27 February 2014


A simple picture to link KM and continuous improvement


Knowledge Management is the discipline that drives continuous improvement.

We are all familiar with this in our personal lives, as demonstrated by the familiar saying "Practice Makes Perfect". The more we do something, the better we become. The more experience we have, the higher our performance.

This can also be true for Organisations, provided we apply KM. Organisations can also find that Practice Makes Perfect, and that the more experience they have the higher their performance.

The diagram here shows how.

The two crucial elements are as follows.

1) There needs to be a learning loop in operation. Knowledge must be applied to activity and to problems, and must be reviewed and gained from activity, problems and experience. The challenges for an organisation are two-fold - firstly finding a way to gain knowledge from experience (through effective lessons capture for example), and secondly being able to find the knowledge from the past (practices like Peer Assist help here). This is one elements of Knowledge Management already. 
2) The second element is to embed new knowledge into processes, procedures and structures. This is represented by the blue wedge in the diagram marked KM. Without this embedding step, the new knowledge is lost over time as human memory fades, or as lessons become buried within lessons databases, and performance slips back down the hill. The embedding KM wedge makes sure that performance gains are maintained (through the use of Lessons Management Software for example).
This combination of the KM components of learning loop and embedding means that

  • the more experience an organisation has, the more it learns
  • the more it learns, the more it improves its knowledge base
  • the more it improves its knowledge base, the more it improves its processes, procedures and structures
  •  the more it improves its processes, procedures and structures, the more it improves performance.





3 comments:

Andrew Trickett said...

Thanks Nick a really useful visual as it is something that I am working on as part of knowledge reviews 'in the flow' and I'd like to use it in my briefing material. My first draft had a large chasm in it but I think yours is a bit more elegant.

christianliipfert said...

KM as the wedge that prevents backsliding! Great visual.

LucRenta said...

I have found that framing KM as a continuos quality improvement/PDSA really resonates with program staff and it opens up an entire body of literature and global experience. I am glad to share a graphic I use.

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