Wednesday 22 October 2014

KM's biggest barriers and enablers - new evidence

This blog, like many others, has provided guidance in the past about the biggest barriers to Knowledge Management (here for example, and here),  and the most powerful enablers

Barriers to the carpark of the Estonia Opera House

Now our global Knowledge Management Survey provides some more data to illuminate the issue.

As part of the survey (answered by nearly 400 KM professionals), we asked respondents to rank a number of barriers in order of the impact they had had on their KM program, ranking them from 1 to 8.

The resulting figures are shown in the table below, with high numbers being high ranking.


Average ranking

Lack of prioritisation and support from leadership6.0
Cultural issues5.8
Lack of KM roles and accountabilities4.9
Lack of KM incentives4.7
Lack of a defined KM approach4.6
Incentives for the wrong behaviours (inability to time-write KM, rewards for internal competition etc)4.2
Lack of support from departments such as IT, HR etc4.1
Insufficient technology3.8

They were then asked to prioritise the main enablers for KM which had proved powerful, ranking them from 1 to 9. The resulting figures are shown in the table below (high numbers being high ranking).


Average ranking

Support from senior management7.8
Evidence of value from KM6.8
Championship and support from KM team/champions6.5
Effective KM processes5.9
Personal benefit for staff from KM5.5
Easy to use technology5
A supportive company culture4.7
Clear KM accountabilities and roles3.7
Incentive systems for KM3

So what does this tell us?

  • The number one barrier/enabler is support from senior management. Without this, you will struggle. With this, you will succeed. This blog contains much advice about gaining senior management support (see here for example), and if you need more help, we will be happy to advise. Get this support, all else will be much easier.
  • Although culture, roles and incentives are seen as major barriers, they are at the bottom of the enablers table. These are perhaps not the barriers that they might seem to be, even though they are a key part of your Knowledge Management Framework. 
  • The second and fifth biggest enabler is Value. Evidence of value from KM is crucial (and incidentally is also crucial in delivering support from senior management). Your KM Proof of Concept projects, and your two pronged strategy delivering long term value and quick wins, are both vital here. This also needs to address value to the individual knowledge worker as well as value to the organisation - a principle pointed out in this study from Siemens
  • Technology is seldom a barrier, nor is it near the top of the enabler list. Anyone thinking that the solution to effective KM is technology alone, is ignoring the lessons from the past 2 decades of successful KM.

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