22 KM success factors and 22 KM failure factors
It’s always good to cross-check our KM programs against lists of failure and success factors. Here are two pretty comprehensive lists.
I wrote these posts based on our long experience at Knoco Ltd in Knowledge Management Implementation, the lessons we had learned from our own consultancy projects, and from those we have observed closely at other organisations.
More recently I came across this 2007 article entitled Addressing Failure Factors in Knowledge Management by Rosina O. Weber, which is an analysis of KM failure factors through a literature review, and which therefore provides a similar overview of success and failure factors. However the lists come at the issue from different angles – the Knoco list looks mostly at errors in KM implementation, Rosina’s list looks mostly at errors in the KM solution or approach.
Here are Rosina’s 15 failure factors.
1. Organizations that tried to develop a monolithic organizational memory for an entire organization have failed
2. KM approaches may fail when they do not integrate people, processes, and technology
3. KM approaches may fail when they are designed without input from all stakeholders
4. KM approaches may fail when contributors do not know the ideal specificity of knowledge.
5. KM approaches may fail due to lack of leadership support
6. KM approaches may fail when users are afraid of the consequences of their contributions.
7. KM approaches may fail when they store knowledge in unrestricted textual representations
8. KM approaches may fail when they rely on inadequate technology.
9. KM approaches may fail when they are outside the process context.
10. KM approaches may fail when they ignore impediments to knowledge transfer.
11. KM approaches may fail when they do not enforce managerial responsibilities
12. KM approaches may fail when they do not properly oversee the quality of stored knowledge.
13. KM approaches may fail when they do not promote collaboration.
14. KM approaches may fail when they are not able to show measurable benefits
15. KM approaches may fail because users do not perceive value in contributing.
Here are my 7 failure factors for comparison (see here for more explanation)
1. KM is not introduced as a change program
2. The KM team does not have the right people to deliver change
3. The KM team “preach only to the choir”.
4. Only parts of the KM solution are implemented (Rosina’s number 2, although even she neglects the importance of governance)
5. KM is never embedded into the business
6. There is no effective high-level sponsorship (Rosina’s number 5)
7. KM is not introduced with a business focus (An overlap with Rosina’s number 14)
Rosina then turns these 15 around and states the converse, to derive 15 success factors.
1. KM approaches should be designed to support communities of practice.
2. KM approaches should integrate people, processes, and technology.
3. KM approaches should be designed in collaboration with different stakeholders.
4. KM approaches should identify an adequate level of specificity.
5. KM approaches should be strongly supported by the leaders of their target communities.
6. KM approaches should be adopted by communities that encourage innovation.
7. KM approaches should adopt representations with set of specific fields.
8. KM approaches should adopt technology only when it is suitable for a task. When technology is not adequate for a task and a suitable one is not available, then this task should be left to humans.
9. KM approaches should be integrated into the context of target organizational processes.
10. KM approaches should include methods to overcome impediments to knowledge transfer.
11. KM approaches should incorporate means of enforcing managerial responsibilities.
12. KM approaches should include verification methods.
13. KM approaches should include measures to promote collaboration.
14. KM approaches should demonstrate how contributors can benefit from KM.
15. KM approaches should allow for the measurement of their effectiveness
Here are my 7 success factors for comparison (see here for more explanation)
1. KM needs to be driven by the needs of the organisation.
2. KM needs to be introduced as a management framework
(Rosina’s number 2, although even she neglects the importance of governance).3. KM needs to address Pull as well as Push.
4. KM should be implemented as a change process.
5. KM Must be embedded in the business
(Rosina’s number 11, I think).6. KM needs not just high level support, but high level expectation.
7. KM needs to be delivered where the high value decisions are made.
How to use these lists
My advice to the KM professional is to look at Rosina’s lists and at my lists, and use these to drive a risk analysis of your Knowledge Management implementation. The more of the failure factors you recognise in your own approach, the higher the risk you face.
Tags: implementing KM