Wednesday, 2 October 2019

10 signs your KM strategy is in trouble

In a post from 2009 (no longer available) Lucas McDonnell provided 6 signs that your Knowledge Management strategy could be in trouble. I have added 4 more.

Image from wikimedia commons
Lucas' 6 signs are as follows, with my comments in brackets, and then I add a few more trouble signs of my own.
1. People outside your group don’t understand what you’re doing (a failure in communication);

2. You keep changing vendors/technologies/products (often a symptom that technology alone is not working, which also means that changing technology won't help);

3. You keep layering vendors/technologies/products on top of each other (this seems like a "sweetshop" approach to KM, rather than a strategic view of what technology is needed, as modelled by Schlumberger);

4. You find it difficult to explain what you’re trying to accomplish (because you do not have a business-led strategy);

5. You’re prescribing organizational change (by which Lucas means that change is prescribed, rather than delivered through solving a series of business problems);

6. You’re making big promises (I struggle with this one a bit - but Lucas means "don't overpromise").

I think we can add a few more signs to this

7. All you are focusing on is vendors/technologies/products, rather than on a balanced framework of roles, processes, technologies and governance;
8. You are  selling KM on its own merits, not on value to the business; 
9. You still haven't an case studies of KM adding value; 
10. Nobody outside your group has started doing KM yet.
Some of these warning signs (2, 3 and 7) show that you are operating a model where vendors, technologies and products take centre stage. Others that you are not communicating, and in particular not communicating value) (1,4, 8). Than there is a third group, which suggests you are going for a top-down prescribed approach, rather than an agile approach (5, 8, 10).

The solution to this is simple.


  1. Introduce KM as a holistic framework
  2. Communicate, and sell KM on the value it will bring to the business and the individual
  3. Use an agile approach, deploying proofs of concept and pilots.

Watch out for these warning signs, and avoid the crash

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