Wednesday 27 August 2014

How long does KM really take to bed in?

One of the things we were interested in learning about through our Global Knowledge Management Survey was how long KM takes to embed within an organisation.

We asked survey participants to describe the level of maturity of KM in the organisations in two ways, firstly an estimate of the number of years that KM had been a focus for them, and secondly a verbal description of maturity, choosing whether KM was "in the early stages", "well under way" or "fully embedded".

You can see the distribution of maturity levels in the graph here - more organisations surveyed are in the early stages than at any other stage.

However it also proved very informative to look at the average number of years spent on KM by the organisations which were at each of these maturity levels. The figures were quite surprising.

  • Organisations which were "in the early stages of introducing KM" had been doing KM, on average, for 3.5 years.
  • Organisations which were "well in progress with KM" had been doing KM, on average, for 8.2 years.
  • Organisations where "KM is embedded in the way we work" had been doing KM, on average, for 11.8 years.
These are quite large numbers of years. If the early stage leasts more than 3.5 years, and embedding takes place somewhere after 8 years and before 12 years, then Knowledge Management is a long term affair.

But does it have to take so long?  There are some indications from the survey that the length of time KM takes depends on how you introduce it, with change-management and pilot-led approaches being the quickest (exactly the implementation approaches we recommend at Knoco). Such approaches to implementation can shave 2 years off the time of your Knowledge Management program.

However the basic message from the survey is that Knowledge Management implementation is a marathon and not a sprint, and the culture change needed to fully embed Knowledge Management can take up to a decade to mature.

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