Monday 14 November 2016

Industry cultural profiles for KM

As part of our 2014 KM survey, we asked questions about the 10 KM cultural elements. Here is how different industry groupings answered.

The survey, which went out to nearly 400 KM professionals worldwide, tested most of the aspects of KM, one of which, of course, was culture. 

We gave people a list of 10 potential cultural barriers, and asked them which of these had been an issue in their KM program. By looking at the percentage of people within each industry who identified the different barriers, we can build start to build industry KM cultural profiles.

The plots below show these profiles for respondents from different industries, against the 10 cultural elements, which are
  • Openness v closed-ness
  • Honesty v dishonesty
  • Empowerment v disempowerment
  • Secrecy v lack of secrecy
  • Learner behaviour v knower behaviour
  • Challenge v complacency
  • Collaboration v competition
  • Remembering v forgetting
  • Long term v short term thinking
  • Performance drive v lack of ambition

In each case, 
  • high scores represent a "good" KM culture, with few of the respondents identifying this area as a cultural barrier, 
  • low scores represent a "poor" KM culture, with many of the respondents identifying this area as a cultural barrier, 

Plot 1 - professional services v legal services

The professional services firms (mostly represented in the survey my employees of the biog global management consultants) score very highly for KM culture, with weaknesses only in a lack of openness and short term thinking.

Respondents from the legal firms see many more cultural barriers, particularly secrecy, a lack of openness and of collaboration, and short term thinking. However the lawyers are particularly strong on honesty

Plot 2 - public sector

The non-for-profit organisations in the aid and development sector score well, with cultural strengths in honesty, lack of secrecy, learner behaviours and remembering, but with weaknesses in short term thinking and lack of openness.

Government admin scores lower for most elements, though collaboration seems to be a strength.

The military and emergency sector is strong in honesty and (unusually) reasonable at long term thinking, but finds secrecy and lack of openness to be barriers

Plot 3 - Industry

The best (most consistently good) KM culture profile is seen in the construction and engineering sector, where KM in pretty well established. Even here, short-termism can be a barrier. 

The utility sector is not bad either, though weaker in a lack of openness, and "forgetting".

Oil and gas are medium-high in all cultural elements except for a lack of openness.

Manufacturing is very high on honesty and empowerment, but shows evidence of a lack of openness, "knower" behaviours, and short term thinking.


This is far from being a scientific survey, and scores are very "rough and ready".  If you want a detailed and comprehensive analysis, you need something like our cultural audit survey

However the plots here may act as pointers towards some of the different cultural traits of different industry sectors when it comes to Knowledge Management. 

How well do you think these plots fit the KM culture in your industry?

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