Thursday 21 April 2016

Measuring stock and flow of knowledge

The Intellectual Capital movement attempts to measure, or account, for the Stock of Knowledge in an organisation. Its actually easier to measure knowledge flow.

Rate of Flow

What should we measure in Knowledge Management? The amount of knowledge, or the flow of knowledge?

There is no absolute scale for measuring the amount of knowledge held by a person, or held by an organisation.  There is no "milliknow, centiknow, kiloknow, megaknow" metric scale for know-how. No scales, no tape measure.

This makes it really hard to measure the stock of knowledge. You can measure the number of experts and roughly grade their expertise, and you can measure the contents of a knowledge base, but of course quality can trump quantity (As Prusak and Davenport said - Volume is the friend of Information and Data management, and the enemy of Knowledge Management).

Then you can also measure intellectual capital as being the difference between asset value and stock price, which is partly influenced by Knowledge, but also by relationship capital, brand capital and so on.

What you can measure, is a change in knowledge - "Yes, I know more now than I did before this meeting, or this conversation".

You can also measure the effect of this knowledge - "Now that I know more, I can perform this task faster, or more cheaply, or to a better quality".

It is therefore far easier to measure the FLOW of knowledge, than it is to measure the STOCK, and then through Flow, to measure VALUE.

Activity Metrics such as the ones below are more useful than volume metrics.

  • number of lessons learned activities in projects 
  • lessons added to the lessons management system
  • instances of lessons reuse
  • number of lessons embedded into procedure vs number waiting to be embedded
  • time taken to close lessons 
  • number of community activities and levels of participation in those activities; 
  • number of questions asked per month; 
  • number of answers per question
  • time between question and first answer
  • number of readers of the community blog
  • frequency of articles on the community blog
  • user feedback and satisfaction ratings, collected through a user rating system
  • number of reads per knowledge asset or knowledge item
  • number of comments
  • frequency of edits and update
  • number of new items 
  • re-use rate of knowledge assets
  • frequency of searches of the knowledge base
  • search success rate
Even better are the Outcome Measures:

  • evidence of value added through km activities in projects, and presented as success stories 
  • evidence of community value, delivered through solutions to members’ problems, and presented as success stories 
  • evidence of value through use of knowledge base, gathered through user feedback, and presented as success stories
  • evidence of value delivered through the lessons learned process, presented as success stories
Don't try to measure the volume of the stock of knowledge - measure its flow and its impact instead.


Andy Blunden said...

Knowledge metrics are the most interesting of all. In my opinion we should take a lag and lead look at this. From a lag point of view we would try to track results i.e. the application of knowledge in improving the business so there has to be some traditional tracking of outcomes such as efficiency, effectiveness etc. So from a lag point of view outcomes could include reduced job times, error reduction, improved customer satisfaction, value through core competence improvement. For lead indicators all of the ones above are valid, so metrics around the amount of knowledge and flow of knowledge are realistic, but the killer metric that I would try and define and apply would be 'application of knowledge' Depending on complexity activity and task level metrics could include. Knowledge searches, knowledge accesses and knowledge uses, compliance with standard processes, number of standard processes developed, number of knowledge forum discussions, number of inputs into reviewed processes, number of reviewed processes. Just another angle.........

Nick Milton said...

In my latest book, we suggest four forms of metrics - compliance, maturity, activity and impact. The first three are forms of leading indicators, the last is the all-important lag indiciator.

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