10 things best-in-class KM companies have in common
There are many things that the world leaders in KM have in common. Here are 10 of them.
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A focus on know-how, and providing know-how to the decision makers at all levels. The leaders in KM know that the end goal of KM is providing knowledge to people who need it to make decisions. A prime example here is the US Army hurricane story, but we can see this same principle in all KM leaders.
A focus on driving their performance through knowledge. Whether this is Shell drilling wells faster, NASA cutting cycle time, Severn trent improving their efficiency – all successful KM companies link KM activity to improved performance.
An understanding of the value of their knowledge. Leading KM companies know how much (in rough terms) KM means to them, and try to track the value through measuring the value of KM interactions like ConocoPhillips, or estimating the value of answered questions like Siemens.
An understanding that knowledge is decentralised. Rather than centralising knowledge with experts or in centres of expertise, leading companies realise that knowledge is dispersed in the organisation and shared through communities of practice, as seen at Ericsson, World Vision, and Halliburton. Bringing together knowledge from many places yielded big benefits for Mars.
A complete framework for KM. Rather than just introducing one component of KM, Best in Class companies make sure they cover Roles, Processes, Technology and Governance. Bombardier is a great example, with a framework of roles, processes, communities, technolgies and governance.
A balance of connecting and collecting. Connect and Collect are the two main pathways for knowledge transfer, and all the leaders in the field run both pathways in parallel – CoPs and wikis at Shell, CoPs and Wikis at Pfizer, Knowledge Assets and communities at Samsung, Siemens and others. They realise that both pathways complement each other, and are not mutually exclusive alternatives.
Embedded roles. All the leaders ensure there are embedded roles for KM. MicKinsey, for example, have 1800 knowledge professionals including knowledge owners, and the other big consultancies are amonst the world leaders in employing staff in knowledge roles together with the big technology firms like IBM and Hewlett Packard.
Embedded processes. KM processes are embedded in all the best-in-class KM companies. Processes such as After Action Review can be found in the oil majors, the emergency services and the military, while lesson learning processes and learning from experience has delivered value at Ford, the Canadian Air Force and Transport for London, and Peer Assist has be used to great effect at De Beers
Culture and behaviours, supported by governance. All the leaders recognise that culture is key, and address this through various governance processes such as the NASA KM policy, the knowledge policy for the Hong Kong Police, the Archimedes awards at Conoco, and the Oxfam “rightds and responsibilities” charter
Enough technology, and the right technology. Each of the leaders has a technology set that does everything needed in KM terms without going over teh top. This example from Schlumberger shows the ideal approach for KM technology, which is to select it based on need, and to eliminate any tehcnology which will cause confusion.