Monday, 2 December 2019

A new way to differentiate Industry approaches to KM?

If you are interested in how different industries approach KM, here is a new way to differentiate them. 


Different industries tend to approach KM in different ways, or apply KM in "different flavours."  In September I posted a ternary plot, where different industries were plotted on their relative focus on Product Knowledge, Process Knowledge, or Customer Knowledge. Below is a similar plot, but looking at the preferred "default approach" to KM.

This plot is derived from answers to our KM surveys in 2014 and 2017, answered by more than 700 knowledge managers worldwide. One of the questions asked the respondents to list, in order of importance, a series of KM components (communities of practice, for example). In this plot we look at three components, 
  • Connecting people through communities of practice;
  • Learning from Experience;
  • Improved access to documents (including search and portals)
The plot maps out the percentage of companies from each industry which chose each one of these three as their top area of importance. Of course for many companies, all three were important, but for this plot, we look at which of these three components was chosen as MOST important.

A Ternary plot such as this one shows a choice between three components, measures on three axes (labelled in the plot above) and the closeness to each of the apices shows the proportion of companies in that industry which chose that KM approach as the most important of the three. For example, the data point on the far left, the "Legal" data point scores 
  • 71% on the axis "improved access to documents"
  • 26% on the axis "connecting people through communities", and
  • 3% on the axis "learning from experience"
This represents the views of the 35 survey respondents from the legal industry concerning which of these three was most important for KM. 

What is interesting about this plot, is that the points are well spread out, suggesting that this is a way to differentiate some of the industries. 

  • Legal, for example, sees access to documents as the most important of these 3 KM tasks. Finance/Insurance and Health are similar. 
  • Oil and Gas, on the other hand, sees a mix of communities of practice and learning from.experience as more important (only 15% of respondents voted for "improved access to documents").
  • IT/telecoms has the highest proportion of people preferring "connecting people through communities", perhaps related to their long history of online collaboration.
  • "Learning from Experience" gets its greatest attention from Aid/Development, Military/Emergency and Mining.
  • In the middle of the plot, where all three areas get equal votes, are Utilities, Construction, and Education/Training.

You can see the outworkings of these preferences in all sorts of things, such as the ways KM job descriptions are written, the skills from which KM teams recruit, and the preferred components of the KM Frameworks

What's the conclusion? I think that this plot may be an interesting way to differentiate different KM approaches, but perhaps the main conclusion is that id you are looking at analogue Km approaches to learn from; stick to a neighbouring industry. There would be no point in an oil and gas company applying a KM framework from Legal, or Legal applying a KM framework from IT, or IT applying a Framework from Mining. 

Understand how your industry approaches KM, and use that as your starting point. 

No comments:

Blog archive