Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Why self-assessment of KM maturity often fails

KM self-assessment often gives false results, as people frequently don't know what "good" looks like.


knowledge management assessments for clients, we often run into something we call "overconfidence through ignorance", where someone will rank themselves good at something when they are really very poor, just because they have no knowledge of what "good" actually looks like.
When we run

"Yes, we are very good at sharing best practice" they might say; "We have a conference every second year where people present their best ideas". And because they have no experience of (for example) daily discussions in a community of practice, or projects routinely hosting peer assists, with the associated deep discussion of knowledge topics, they think that a show-and-tell conference is an effective way to transfer knowledge, and that every second year is an appropriate frequency.

Or they say "Yes, we capture knowledge when people leave the organisation - everyone has a 30-minute interview with HR before they leave". And because they have no idea of what a good Knowledge Retention and Transfer program looks like, they think that a 30-minute chat about "why are you leaving" is good enough.

This is one of the gorilla illusions - the cognitive biases that plague us all - known as the illusion of confidence.

So we find an interesting pattern;

  • A person who knows little about Knowledge Management, ranks themselves highly through false confidence
  • As they learn a little more about KM, their self-ranking drops dramatically, once they realise how poor they really are
  • Then as they actually start to implement good KM, their ranking begins to climb again

This is one of the primary reasons why any effective assessment of your Knowledge Management capability needs an experienced objective external view. One of the key pieces of knowledge any Knowledge Manager needs to know -

"What would things look like, if we were really very good at Knowledge Management, and how far are we now from that point".


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