One of my most popular blog posts of 2014 was a post entitled "the 4 legs on the Knowledge Management table". Here I talked about the four enabling elements of the Knowledge Management Framework (and indeed of any management framework) - roles, processes, technology and governance - and suggested that these 4 should be treated with equal attention if your KM program is to be successful.here;
- If there are no roles and accountabilities, then Knowledge Management is nobody's job (or else, it's "everyone's job" which soon becomes "no-one's job")
- If there are no processes for KM, then nobody knows what to do, or how to do it.
- If there is no Technology for KM, then nobody has the tools, and KM can never extend beyond the immediate and local
- If there is no Governance, then nobody sees the point. KM remains an optional activity, and nobody has time for optional activity.
Over the years, we have seen that two of these "table legs" get far less attention than the other two, and that this is often a contributing factor to the challenges that KM programs face. I thought I would test this view by looking at the relevant "Google ranking" of these four elements, as a proxy measure of where the attention typically lies. The results are shown in the list below and the picture above, and you can test this for yourselves as well.
- A search for "knowledge management process" gave 330,000 results
- A search for "knowledge management technology" gave 264,000 results
- A search for "knowledge management roles" gave 68,000 results
- A search for "knowledge management governance" gave 34,700 results
If these are the 4 legs on the KM table, then in general, the longest leg is 10 times longer than the shortest leg.
That is one wobbly table!
Almost all the attention seems to be going on processes and technologies, and very little on roles and on governance.
Knowledge Managers of the world - if your KM programs are going to be in balance, you need to address all 4 legs of the table, and the evidence is that this is not happening right now. Your processes and technologies may well be fine - you need to bring your roles and governance up to the same level.