4 KM implementation lessons from Hoffman-LaRoche

Here are some useful lessons on KM implementation.

Taken from this article, here’s some lessons on KM implementation from the Hoffman-LaRoche experience.

I quote

“First, managers hoping to make a difference through better knowledge management should start by focusing on the right problem. Patricia Seemann chose a spot that was closely tied to the strategy of the business, and a driver of the firm’s future growth. She also focused on a process that was undeniably knowledge-intensive, ensuring that the impact of knowledge improvements would be great.

“This points to a second lesson: set definitive goals for what the effort will achieve. Preferably, as at Roche, these can be stated in terms of ultimate increases in profitability. 

“The third lesson to take away from Roche’s story is that knowledge management need not be technology- intensive, and should not be technology-driven. Tools like prototypes and knowledge maps can be surprisingly low-tech. They don’t require people to buy into major infrastructural overhauls up front and on faith—they simply get a job done, and win converts along the way.

“Finally, Roche’s success teaches a lesson about bringing together the right project team. A mix of twenty-five Roche people and a variety of outside consultants, Seemann’s was small enough to move fast, but big enough to bring a variety of perspectives to the table. Most importantly, every member of the team was drawn from the best and the brightest Roche had to offer. Too often, Seemann knew, internal projects are staffed with employees who have time on their hands. Unfortunately, they may be free for good reason—they are not the organization’smost valued contributors. Getting the best benefits a project on two levels: it gets the work done faster and better, and it makes a very visible statement about the project’s importance to top management. In Seemann’s words, “Do not divest knowledge management to your deadwood. Knowledge is something that is so dear to the company that only the best and brightest can actually bring it out.”

Good advice! 

View Original Source (nickmilton.com) Here.

"KM is all about change" – up to a point, and then it isn’t

Knowledge Management is only a change management exercise, until a certain point is reached. After that, it is about not changing.

It is an accepted fact that introducing KM is all about change.

You are bringing in  new processes, new roles, new technologies and new governance, that will enable, drive and support new ways of working, new behaviours, and new attitudes to knowledge. You are asking people not only to change the way they work, but also they way they think, In particular you are asking them to start to treat knowledge as a collective asset, not a personal asset.
So your KM program has all the trappings of a change management program – a vision, champions, a communication strategy, publicity for the strong perfomers, and so on.
However if you are successful, you come to a point where KM is institutionalised in the organisational frameworks. That’s when you need to stop changing.
Once KM is institutionalised, it is easy to take your eye off the ball, and think that the job has been done. However it is all too easy for the organisation to change back, to lose sight of the value KM brings and to start to revert back to how it was. The role of the KM team, once the KM change has been made, is to embed that change so that there will be no reversion.
Now your KM program has all the trappings of an established discipline – a policy, accountabilities, governance, standards, metrics and reporting, sanctions against the people who refuse to do KM, and so on.
And if you are successful with this, then KM can become internalised within the culture for the long term, and thats where the benefits will be greatest.

So Yes, KM is a change program, until it becomes a “don’t change back” program.

View Original Source (nickmilton.com) Here.

KM’s 17 deadly sins

I found this in my archives, which comes from a Canadian Federal Government perspective in 1999.


Notice how many still ring true today – truly little has changed in nearly 2 decades.

The deadliest sins of Knowledge Management :   

1. Continuing to operate a hierarchical organisation
2. Fear
3. Placing a greater emphasis on technology than people
4. Not communicating enough on the issues
5. Not approaching Knowledge Management as a management issue
6. Not identifying the departments’ most valuable holders of knowledge and key innovators
7. Reluctance to distinguish between data or information on the one hand and knowledge on the other
8. Emphasising knowledge stock to the detriment of knowledge flow
9. Viewing knowledge as existing predominantly outside the heads of individuals
10. Not understanding that a shared context is fundamental to knowledge management
11. Paying too little heed to the role and importance of tacit knowledge
12. Disentangling knowledge from IT issues
13. Downplaying thinking and reasoning
14. Focusing on the past and the present but not the future
15. Failing to recognise the importance of experimentation
16. Substituting technological contact for human interface
17. Seeking to develop direct measures of knowledge

Although the original source for this is lost in the mists of time, numbers 8 through 17 are copied directly from the 11 deadly sins quoted by Fahey and Prusak (California. Management Review, Vol. 40 No. 3,), although number 12 may be as misquote, as the original is “Disentangling knowledge from its uses”, rather than “from IT issues” – both of which are a sin.

View Original Source (nickmilton.com) Here.

The Personality Trap in KM implementation

It can be tempting to rely on the personality of a strong charismatic leader to drive Knowledge Management implementation, but this can become a trap. 

Image from Wikimedia Commons

To begin with, a strong passionate leader can be a real asset for an effective Knowledge Management implementation team. They can convey their message with conviction, power and suthority, connecting both with senior managers and with potential “first followers” in the business.

The KM team leader should be a change agent, with a strong profile and good influencing skills, who has some hard-won experience in KM, who can translate KM into business terms. Often the strength of their drive and convision is a real asset in the early stages of KM “evangelism”.

But in the longer term there is a risk in relying on the personality of the leader to drive transformation. When the leader moves on and this strong personality is no longer present to drive things, transformation can easily falter or “tip back” to a pre-KM state.

Here is just such a story.

A project manager was working in a major project in the Far East. He was a KM Believer, one of the “first followers“, eager to lead change in his part of the business. He set up a community of practice, or knowledge network, of project managers who would meet, exchange documents, and swap lessons learned for further re-use. 

And it worked – in his area he cut costs, shortened timelines and improved safety statistics. He acted as champion, thought leader, and role model for Knowledge Management within the wider business. 

Then he left – moving on to another part of the business.

The community stopped functioning. Knowledge capture ceased. Many people in the business claimed that they were unaware of what he had been doing. Knowledge management in the Far East Division dwindled away and died. The culture “tipped back” to where it had been before.

No matter how strong your personality, no matter how much you can get done by personally driving it, there comes a time when you have to pass over the reins. Not to another strong personality, but to an embedded Knowledge Management Framework that is going to function no matter who is driving it – a system of KM expectations, embedded processes, roles within the business, and governance.

Personality is great in the earliest stages, but unless it gives way to an embedded framework, reliance on personality becomes a trap.

View Original Source (nickmilton.com) Here.

"85% of KM initatives have no stated objective"

It is a strange, troubling, but apparently true fact that 85% of KM initatives have no stated objective.

Image from wikimedia commons

This statistic comes from Page 7 of this presentation by Bob Armacost, and quotes the results of a survey run by KPMG

  • 80% of companies in a recent survey said that they had KM initiatives under way
  • Of those companies, 85% had no stated objectives for their KM initiative.
I suppose it depends what you mean by “stated objectives”, but even so, that’s a scary statistic.

Given that so many KM initiatives fail, then to start an initiative with no clear business objective is surely a rash thing to so. Clarity of purpose is one of our 7 top success factors for successful KM implementation.

So what sort of objective might the KM initiative have?

To answer this question, you need to have determined the business driver for KM. Our KM surveys in 2014 and 2017 tested 7 business drivers, and found they were ranked as follows, with high numbers equating to high ranking:

  • KM to improve operational effectiveness – rank 5.1
  • KM to improve business efficiency – rank 5.1
  • KM to provide a better service to clients and customers – rank 4.7
  • Km to retain knowledge at risk of loss – rank 4.3
  • KM to improve internal innovation – rank 3.9
  • KM to improve health, safety or environmental record – rank 2.
Depending on which business driver is relevant to your organisations (and different industries have different drivers for KM), then impacting this business driver must surely be a stated objective for KM.  If your organisation wishes to become more efficient through the use of KM, then one stated objective of your KM program must be to improve efficiency, for example.
You can map your KM initiatives onto this objective using a strategy map, you can put metrics in place to measure KM activity, and you can seek anecdotal or even measured evidence that KM activity is linked to delivery of this business objective. 
You can then declare an objective such as “Improved knowledge management will deliver efficiency improvements in our capital projects resulting in an average 5% cost reduction against the 2016 baseline”, or “Improved knowledge management in our contact centres and online customer support will result in a 5% improvement on Net Promoter Score against the 2016 baseline.”

The value of a clear objective

It may initially seem scary to link KM to a measurable business outcome, but let me tell you three things:

  • Lots of people have done it, and this blog contains over 100 examples of metricated business impact from KM
  • Your senior management will really appreciate it, and your KM program will be all the safer from having a clear link to business deliverables. No manager will support the development of KM for its own sake, but will support it if there is stated value to the organisation;
  • You will find this business objective clarifies your KM program considerably, and allows you to focus only on those things that add real value. It will make your life simpler and clearer.

View Original Source (nickmilton.com) Here.

Which KM implementation approach works the fastest?

The quickest ways to implement KM are by change management, and by piloting. The slowest are through top down directive, and KM by stealth. But how do we know this?

I blogged yesterday about how long it takes on average to implement KM, but how can you get ahead of the curve, and deliver KM quicker than the average?  We conducted a big global survey of KM this year. following on from a previous survey in 2014. In both surveys we asked two questions:

How many years have you been doing KM?

  • 0
  • .5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 4
  • 8
  • 16
  • 32 years

Which of these best expresses the level of KM maturity in your organisation?

  • We are in the early stages of introducing KM
  • We are well in progress with KM
  • KM is embedded in the way we work.
Yesterday we used these data to look at the average length of time organisations have been doing KM, for each of these maturity levels, which gives us a measure of the speed of KM implementation.  And then, of course, we can look at factors that influence that speed.
One of the most obvious factors would be the implementation strategy, and luckily we asked the survey respondents the following question:
How has KM been implemented in the organisation? Please choose the answer closest to your situation.

  • A KM pilot phase followed by a roll-out phase 
  • As a change management approach 
  • Introduce and promote technology 
  • Introduce processes (eg CoPs, lesson learning) 
  • Introduce technology and hope for viral growth 
  • KM by stealth/Guerrilla KM 
  • Top down directive to the entire company 
  • Not decided yet 
  • Other (please specify)
The chart shown here combines these three questions for a combined dataset from the 2014 and 2017 surveys, with duplicates removed. In total 522 people answered all 3 questions. The chart shows

For organisations who have chosen each of these implementation approaches, what is the average number of years they have been doing KM, for each of these maturity levels?

For example, organisations using a change management approach and who say they are “in the early stages” have been doing KM on average for just over 3 years, whereas if they are “well in progress” they have been doing KM on average for just over 6 years.
These numbers give a proxy measure of the speed of KM implementation, and the approaches are ordered from left to right in order of overall implementation speed.

The fastest approaches to KM implementation are a Change Management approach, and a piloting phase followed by roll-out.

Change management is the overall quickest approach. Piloting gets you out of the “early stages” more quickly than any other approach, as a successful pilot means you are well in progress with KM already, but the roll-out phase may keep you in the “in progess” phase for longer. A combination of Change Management and Knowledge Management Pilot projects is the approach we at Knoco recommend for Knowledge Management implementation.

KM by top-down directive and KM by stealth are the slowest approaches.

“KM by stealth” organisations which say they are well in progress have been doing KM for nearly 12 years; double the number for the change management approach. KM by top down directive is almost as slow.

If you are unsure about your KM implementation strategy, hopefully these results will give you some guidance. 

View Original Source Here.

How long it really takes to embed Knowledge Management

In the wake of our recent 2017 survey, here are some more data about how long it really takes to embed Knowledge Management.

We conducted a big global survey of KM this year. following on from a previous survey in 2014. In both surveys we asked two questions:

How many years have you been doing KM?

  • 0
  • .5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 4
  • 8
  • 16
  • 32

Which of these best expresses the level of KM maturity in your organisation?

  • We are in the early stages of introducing KM
  • We are well in progress with KM
  • KM is embedded in the way we work.
If you combine these questions, then you can get a measure of how long it takes to reach the various levels of KM maturity. The graph below is just such a combination, and represents all datapoints from the 2014 and 2017 surveys with duplicates removed – a dataset of just over 750 organisations.

Full dataset

This is the full dataset, and we can see that the transition from “early stages” to “well in progress” takes normally about 4 years (if you take the 50% level as normal), and the transition to fully embedded takes normally about 20 years.  There is a large spread – some reach maturity far faster than others.
We can also see some strange anomalies:
  • organisations which have been doing KM for 0 years, yet it is fully embedded – either these are spurious data, or organisations who feel they are doing KM without the benefit of introducing a formal KM program
  • organisations which have been doing K for 32 years, yet are still in the early stages – either these are spurious data, or organisations who feel they are doing KM for ages but in a half-hearted manner, or doing it “under the radar”.

    However this full dataset may not be too helpful, as we know that embedding KM takes longer in larger organisations. The graphs below show sections of the dataset for small, medium and large organisations.

    Small organisations

    We also asked the participants to answer the following question:
    How large is the organisation (or part of the organisation) you are decribing in terms of staff?Please select the closest number from the list below.
    • 10
    • 30
    • 100
    • 300
    • 1000
    • 3000
    • 10000
    • 30000
    • 100000
    • 300000
    The graph above is the same plot of maturity v number of years, but only for those 148 organisations where the respondent chose a size of 10, 30 or 100.
    We can see that the strange anomalies of “doing KM for 32 years and getting nowhere) belong to this size range. we can also see that the transition from early stages to well in progress still takes just under 4 years (if you take the 50% level as normal),  but the transition to fully embedded takes about 6 years.

    Medium organisations

    The graph above is the same plot of maturity v number of years, for those 351 organisations where the respondent chose a size of 300, 1000 or 3000.
    Here the transition from early stages to well in progress still takes about 4 years (if you take the 50% level as normal),  but the transition to fully embedded takes about 20 years.

    Large organisations

    The graph above is the same plot of maturity v number of years, for those 3255 organisations where the respondent chose a size of 10,000 staff or larger.
    Here the transition from early stages to well in progress still takes about 4 years (if you take the 50% level as normal),  but the transition to fully embedded takes 32 years, as half of the respondents at the 32 year mark said they were still “well in progress”.


    The obvious conclusion is that implementing KM takes a long time, and the bigger the organisation, the longer it takes. However we can be a bit more subtle than that, and conclude as follows:
    • The early stages of Knowledge Management take on average 4 years for any organisation, before you can begin to say ” we are well in progress”.  20% of organisations may get to this point within a year, another 20% may take 8 years or more.
    • The time it takes to reach the point where KM is fully embedded depends on the size of the organisation, with an average of 6 years for the smaller ones, to 32 years for the very biggest. 
    These are average figures – some implementations are faster and some are slower. Tomorrow we might start to investigate what makes the difference in the speed of Knowledge Management implementation.

    View Original Source Here.

    6 success factors for KM implementation

    Here are 6 success factors for Knowledge Management, from one of the discipline’s most experienced practitioners

    I blogged last week about an article on Knowledge Management by Rob Koene of Fluor. Rob’s overview of KM is full of good practical experience and bullet point lists, and here is his list of KM success factors.

    According to Rob, Knowledge Management Implementation will succeed best when:

    1. Top Management understands the need for it (no need to convince them)
    2. Top Management supports it by promoting it and recognising the benefits.
    3. Top Management provides sufficient funds on a continuous basis.
    4. It is being run by a dedicated, strong and enthusiastic team who do this as part of their career. (meaning: they take on this job for a longer period of time)
    5. Subject Matter Experts are identified and are active and visible.
    6. Unless your company is only about IT or HR, do not allow IT or HR to run the show. Although they mean well and they really try with the best of intentions: IT is usually about automation and will drive to automate the management (while) HR may be focused on training which certainly is an item in KM, but it is only part of the package.

    View Original Source Here.

    How to tell when a KM program is a success

    A recent article from one of the KM leaders shows seven indicators that Knowledge Management is working.

    Image from wikimedia commons

    The article is written by Rob Koene of Fluor, the engineering, procurement and construction company and one of the world’s leading KM organisations. Flour have beein involved with KM for nearly 20 years, and have a well established KM program based around a platform called “Knowledge Online”, with associated roles, processes, communities of practice and governance.

    Rob tells us that a Knowledge Management Implementation program is a success when:

    1. People start complaining when (the KM platform) is out of order for longer than a couple of hours. (then you know it is used!)
    2. You see a regular activity in Forums and the questions being answered adequately in time (at Fluor we set the bar to 95% adequately answered within 48 hours).
    3. New Knowledge is being submitted on a regular basis. Do not expect the same rate as the Forum activity though.
    4. Forums are carefully moderated and have at least 4-8 hours of review time per day somewhere on the globe. It is important to act quickly!
    5. Sales uses the Knowledge Management program to sell projects. (then you have really made it).
    6. There is a constant improvement in the KM System, presentation, user friendliness, search capabilities, contents and probably a few more can be thought of.
    7. Feedback is given by the users. And every feedback is of value: Positive or negative. This keeps the KM leadership on their toes.
    Rob also reminds us that success will not come overnight.

    At Fluor, it took us about five years of hard work to see a significant portion of the company actually using the system. Patience and hard work is the key. Expecting immediate results is a “pipe dream”.

    View Original Source Here.

    How to make a start in KM – answers from the survey

    The Knoco 2017 survey of global Knowledge Management has recently closed, with submissions from 428 participants. Here is an interesting insight from the preliminary results.

    This insight is a combination of two of the questions, and it seeks analyse the most effective ways to get your KM program started. 

    The first question asked the participants “What external support has the organisation accessed to help the KM program? (Please select all that apply)”. The options were
    • External consultancy from a generic consulting firm 
    • External consultancy from a specialist KM consultant or consulting firm
    • External KM training
    • Membership of a multi-organisation KM consortium
    • Informal advice and discussions with KM practitioners from other organisations
    • Attendance at KM conferences
    • No external support other than books/Internet
    • I don’t know
    • I can’t remember (it was too long ago)
    • Other (please specify) 
    The second question asked the participants to estimate, on an order of magnitude scale, the value delivered to date through their KM program (although many were unable to estimate this figure).

    We can combine these two answers and look at the value generated from KM programs which use these forms of external support. The answer is shown in the diagram above.

    First the caveats – the numbers are quite small – the numbers of respondents who both quoted a KM value and chose any particular option above are between 11 and 25, so quite a small dataset. There are a few more late responses to add to the dataset which might still alter the numbers a little. And there is nor a one-for-one correlation between support and value, as many respondents used more than one source of support.

    However the conclusions seem clear.

    • Firstly, external support helps. Those respondents to tried to figure out KM for themselves from books and from the Internet delivered significantly less value than those who got external help.
    • Secondly the best external support seems to come from discussion with others, conference attendance, training and specialist consultancy support.
    • And of those four, the external consultancy seems to be associated with the most value-adding KM campaigns. 
    Now you might think “Of course he would say that; he is a KM consultant”, and you would be correct.
    However it is not me saying this, it is the results from a survey. And also I would not be in this job if I did not believe I added value to my clients. I sincerely believe that the right external consultant can get your KM program off to a flying start, and flying in the right direction. The alternative of “figuring it out for yourself” from books and websites does not pay in the long term.

    View Original Source Here.

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