Tuesday 1 September 2009

Knowledge management failure stories - #1

Failure ' Day 63
Originally uploaded by worak
We worked with a company, which used to be a state utility, and now was facing commercial competition. They decided that they had a lot of in house knowledge, which could be a real asset if brought to bear on commercial bids, and the subsequent work.

We worked with them to build a KM strategy, but were worried from the start by the organisational level at which KM was set, and the calibre of the leader of the KM team. He was a very competent engineer, but not a change leader, and not confident with senior management, and this was something that we were unable to influence. As a result the value and vision of KM was not really communicated well enough up the organisation to gain sponsorship.

The KM project subsequently focused on delivering a KM portal, fed by lessons from Retrospects (therefore focusing on push rather than pull). KM roles were assigned in the projects, training courses were delivered, and a couple of pilots were initiated. However the technology was delivered 6 months late, and by then the impetus had already began to wane. There were no quick wins to demonstrate value, and the long gap between training and delivery of the technology meant that KM activity was not sustained. When a major reorganisation followed, KM was effectively abandoned. It now remains only at a very low level, and the deliver of value has been well below what could have been acheived.

So what was missing?

. A strong leader, prepared to lead change
. High level buy-in and sponsorship
. A phased implementation approach, with a roll-out phase when the entire KM system was ready
. A change management strategy, with early wins used to drive later adoption
. Any form of Knowledge Pull (see here)

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