Friday, 6 December 2019

6 potential KM implementation approaches

There are a number of strategic approaches that you can apply when implementing Knowledge Management. All have their failings - we recommend a combination of two of them. 

There are many and varied ways to introduce KM to a company, and a lot of these fail. The main 6 strategies are listed below, with their arguments for and against; probably the worst approach (and one of the most commonly applied) is number 5.



Strategic Approach
What is it
Arguments for
Arguments against
  1. Grass-roots revolution (Guerilla strategy)
Knowledge Management starts low in the organisation, without management support An attractive concept; that people do KM because they recognise its importance.
Unlikely to work when KM is up against urgent work, and management deprioritise KM efforts. Multiple diverse KM approaches are likely to emerge. Often fails to reach the tipping point. Can be used to generate evidence to gain senior support in order to kick off a different strategic approach.
  1. Management directive (top down)
Management tell people to do Knowledge Management
Quick. May appeal to autocratic managers.
May create a “tick in the box” ethic. Multiple diverse KM approaches are likely as each unit guesses what the managers want. Will stop as soon as management changes.
  1. Opportunistic
KM is introduced by looking for business issues which the KM team will help address.
A low energy approach – go where the appeal is. KM focused on problem solving. This is a good approach to identifying KM Pilots (see approach 6).
KM team can be rapidly swamped with some KM activities, while other components of the KM system are not addressed. KM continues to be "done" by the KM team rather than being embedded in the business.
  1. Move the whole business at once
Design a KM framework and roll it out to the entire organisation
Fast. An approach often advocated by large consultancies.
There is no reliable “one size fits all” KM approach, and if you get it wrong you get it wrong for everyone. Risky one-shot approach, akin to the IT "Waterfall" methodology. 
  1. Modular roll out 
Roll out components of the framework one by one (eg CoPs, search engine, etc)
Allows testing of each component of the KM system
Individual KM components are unlikely to deliver value on their own. The organization will need to take the value proposition on faith until roll-out is complete. One exception here is communities of practice, which deliver enough value as a standalone component to be a good place to start. Starting with technology modules on the other hand is usually a recipe for failure.
  1. Trials and pilots

Pilot an entire (MVP) KM Framework  in one or more business areas. Review, improve, repeat.

Secure, robust, allows advancement by discrete steps and decisions. Akin to the IT "Agile" methodology. 
Slow. Management may become impatient. Risk of being scuppered by organisational changes, unless you deliver Opportunistic quick wins as well.

Our recommendation, for almost all clients, is a two-pronged strategy of piloting and trials, plus opportunistic quick wins (a combination of numbers 3 and 6).


For more guidance on KM strategy and implementation, contact us, or get my strategy book or implementation book.

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