Thursday, 31 August 2017

"85% of KM initatives have no stated objective"

It is a strange, troubling, but apparently true fact that 85% of KM initatives have no stated objective.


Image from wikimedia commons
This statistic comes from Page 7 of this presentation by Bob Armacost, and quotes the results of a survey run by KPMG
  • 80% of companies in a recent survey said that they had KM initiatives under way
  • Of those companies, 85% had no stated objectives for their KM initiative.
I suppose it depends what you mean by "stated objectives", but even so, that's a scary statistic.

Given that so many KM initiatives fail, then to start an initiative with no clear business objective is surely a rash thing to so. Clarity of purpose is one of our 7 top success factors for successful KM implementation.

So what sort of objective might the KM initiative have?

To answer this question, you need to have determined the business driver for KM. Our KM surveys in 2014 and 2017 tested 7 business drivers, and found they were ranked as follows, with high numbers equating to high ranking:

  • KM to improve operational effectiveness - rank 5.1
  • KM to improve business efficiency - rank 5.1
  • KM to provide a better service to clients and customers - rank 4.7
  • Km to retain knowledge at risk of loss - rank 4.3
  • KM to improve internal innovation - rank 3.9
  • KM to improve health, safety or environmental record - rank 2.
Depending on which business driver is relevant to your organisations (and different industries have different drivers for KM), then impacting this business driver must surely be a stated objective for KM.  If your organisation wishes to become more efficient through the use of KM, then one stated objective of your KM program must be to improve efficiency, for example.

You can map your KM initiatives onto this objective using a strategy map, you can put metrics in place to measure KM activity, and you can seek anecdotal or even measured evidence that KM activity is linked to delivery of this business objective. 

You can then declare an objective such as "Improved knowledge management will deliver efficiency improvements in our capital projects resulting in an average 5% cost reduction against the 2016 baseline", or "Improved knowledge management in our contact centres and online customer support will result in a 5% improvement on Net Promoter Score against the 2016 baseline."


The value of a clear objective

It may initially seem scary to link KM to a measurable business outcome, but let me tell you three things:

  • Lots of people have done it, and this blog contains over 100 examples of metricated business impact from KM
  • Your senior management will really appreciate it, and your KM program will be all the safer from having a clear link to business deliverables. No manager will support the development of KM for its own sake, but will support it if there is stated value to the organisation;
  • You will find this business objective clarifies your KM program considerably, and allows you to focus only on those things that add real value. It will make your life simpler and clearer.


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