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.

    Make small mistakes

    You will inevitably make mistakes in your Knowledge Management program. Make sure they are small ones, not fatal ones.

    Knowledge Managers need to learn, learning requires experimentation, experiments often lead to mistakes, but mistakes can be costly and derail your program.  That’s a big dilemma for every Knowledge Manager.

    You cannot afford to make a big mistake. Too often we see failed KM programs which have started with grand plans and expensive software purchase, failed to deliver, and set back the cause of KM in the organisation for many years.  After a big expensive flop, KM will have a tarnished reputation and management will be resultant to spend any more money.  This can be a fatal KM mistake, and impossible to recover from.
    Therefore implementing Knowledge Management should be a series of smaller steps and smaller experiments, where failure will not be fatal. Follow the approach below.
    1. Do your research. Find out what is involved in Knowledge Management. Understand what your organisation needs, and the type of KM framework which will support this. Conduct an assessment, review the culture, develop a strategy – all of this before you start to make any changes at all.
    2. See what others are doing. Research the world leaders in KM. Find a consultant who has worked with them, and who can share the details.
    3. Start with small experiments; proof-of-concept trials and pilots where you introduce a minimum viable KM framework. The proof of concept trials should be small enough that failure doesn’t matter; these are your chance to learn as you go, and to experiment. The Knowledge Management pilots can be a little larger, and should be set up to solve specific business problems, but can be a simplified version of the final Knowledge Management framework. Learn from the trials and pilots, until your final KM framework is bullet-proof.
    4. Roll out the framework.
    Make all your mistakes in Stage 3 (and if you have been diligent in Stages 1 and 2, these mistakes should be few and minor). This is a far better approach than starting with step 4 and making your mistakes there. 

    Make small mistakes early, and avoid the large mistakes later.

    View Original Source Here.

    The importance of terminology in KM

    Each organisation has its own culture, and the terms you use in KM need to fit that culture.

    Every organisation that works with knowledge needs some form of Knowledge Management, but the words they use to describe component elements of KM may be very different. They will choose terms that fit the culture of the organisation, and reject terms (and often concepts) that sound wrong, or which jar against their cultural language.

    Let me give you a couple of examples. 
    • A rules-driven, “hard engineering” culture may appoint a Chief Knowledge Officer, who determines a Knowledge Management Policy. Accountability for knowledge is delegated to Technical Authorities who gather Knowledge in a Process Database, codify it into Standard Operating Procedures, and develop and share knowledge through Process Delivery Networks.  Knowledge is supported in the business through KM SPOCs (single points of contact). 
    • A softer “creative” culture may use different words. They may have a Head of Knowledge, who coordinates co-creation of a Knowledge Charter. Different knowledge topics are supported by Knowledge Stewards, who gather knowledge in a Creative Commons, codify it into Knowledge Nuggets, and develop and share knowledge through Learning Communities. Knowledge is supported in the business through Knowledge Activists, or Knowledge Gardeners.
    The roles may actually be very similar, the processes may be the same, and the overall KM Framework may operate in a very similar way in both cultures, but the terminology has to be very different if the words, and the concepts they describe, are to be accepted. 
    If you try introducing Knowledge Activists in a hard engineering culture, or Standard Operating Procedures in a soft creative culture, it will go down like a lead balloon.

    Choose KM terms that fit the culture, and you will find that thay are far more easily accepted.

    View Original Source Here.

    12 steps to KM implementation

    One of the more effective ways to introduce Knowledge Management is through solving a series of business problems. Here is a 12 step approach to doing just that.

    Image from wikimedia commons

    I came across this paper recently by Ray Dawson, professor of KM at Loughborough University, proposing a 12-step approach to KM implementation based on the successive solution of a series of business problems. Ray illustrates his 12 steps with case studies of implementation of KM technologies.

    A similar approach was implemented at Mars to great effect, and is one component of our favoured KM implementation strategy alongside a longer-term framework-based approach.

    Here are Ray’s 12 steps.

    1. Undertake a problem audit to identify a recognised problem. Start by targeting a problem in the company that is manageable in size, knowledge-related, and also widely recognised by all staff concerned. 
    2. Find out how bad the problem is.  If there is a problem then there will be a cost as a result, and these cost figures give a baseline upon which a return on investment for KM can be measured. 
    3. Find a knowledge management solution in the context of the problem. 
    4. Check the cost of the proposed solution so you can calculate a business case.
    5. Check the value for each individual. A new knowledge management initiative has two stakeholder groups – it must have financial benefits to a company, but it must also give value to each individual employee that must make it work. 
    6. Get buy-in from management and individuals based on the business case for the identified problem alone. The knowledge management initiative must be “sold” to both management and users. 
    7. Involve the users in the solution. Users should be involved in the requirements process and design of the new KM approach. 
    8. Plan for systems operation as well as the implementation. Neglecting to plan for the operation of a system is likely to mean any initial success cannot be sustained. 
    9. Implement the solution 
    10. Evaluate the actual savings made. You can find many examples of such savings on this blog.
    11. Use the evidence of success to achieve a wider KM rollout and to get buy-in for new initiatives. This is the social proof aspect we discuss here. The solved problems act as proofs of concept and pilot projects for the wider initiative.
    12.  Use smaller knowledge management projects to build bigger projects.  Large projects can be broken down into smaller projects that can each be implemented with the first 11 steps of this knowledge management implementation methodology. In this way the company can work towards the larger integrated system to which it aspires. 
    This is a very practical approach to KM implementation which we entirely endorse here at Knoco. The smaller problem-led pilots help build the KM structure brick by brick, and lead you towards implementation of a complete Knowledge Management Framework

    View Original Source Here.

    How to apply Guerrilla Knowledge Management

    What if you have no senior management backing for your Knowledge Management program?  In a situation like this, your only recourse is to take a strategy known as “Guerrilla KM,” or “Stealth KM.”

    Originally uploaded by ˙Cаvin 〄

    A Guerrilla Knowledge Management program is one where you work undercover, out of the sight of the ruling powers. Please don’t treat this as a long-term strategy. This is a strategy for gaining support for KM implementation, rather than for implementation itself.

    To understand the strategy, lets look at Military uses of the terms Guerrilla and Stealth.

    • The purpose of a Guerrilla military unit is only to escape detection until they make a big impact on a strategic target, like a bridge or a railroad. Then everyone knows they are there!
    • The purpose of the Stealth bomber is only to escape detection until it drops a bomb.
    • Similarly the purpose of the Guerrilla Knowledge Manager is only to work undetected until you make a “big bang” and achieve a spectacular and strategic success.

     The Guerrilla strategy

    The first step of the Guerrilla Knowledge Management strategy is to choose your sphere of operation. Effectively, you are looking for a KM pilot project that you can get permission to run.

    • Find a supportive manager – someone who sees the potential that KM can bring, and who already has a problem that KM can solve. 
    • Make sure you can demonstrate and measure success in business terms. You need a clear metric, and the opportunity to make a big difference. 
    • Make sure you have the potential to scale up the success so that when the pilot is over, you have not just delivered success to a supportive manager, you are bringing valuable knowledge to the rest of the company. 
    • Make sure you have the resources to do the pilot. The resources are likely to be your own time and energy, these are not boundless, and you cannot afford to fail. The Guerrilla who fails, vanishes without a trace. 
    • Focus on areas that will have high impact, high visibility and a high probability of success. 
    • Get clear on the organisational drivers within the pilot area, understand the critical knowledge, create a local framework, identify and work with the local stakeholders, and drive a change in behaviour at the local level. 
    • If you have little time and little money, focus on connecting people, and on Knowledge Pull. Techniques such as Communities of Practice, Peer Assist, Knowledge Exchange, and Knowledge Visits can all generate a quick value return for relatively little outlay. 
    • Publicise the success. Celebrate noisily. Get the individuals involved in the pilots to tell the story of the success. Record them on video. Embed the video into presentations for senior managers. Post the video on the intranet. Write stories in the company magazine or newsletter. Put up posters and banners. Make sure everyone notices. Much of Guerrilla Warfare is about propaganda – if nobody hears about the “big bang” then the Guerrilla has failed. 

    As Ken Miller says

    The response you want is, “How did you do that?” Don’t make the mistake of piloting the concepts on low-hanging fruit. Think big. We’re not talking about moving the coffee-maker closer to the break room. If nobody notices what you’ve done, you’ve missed the point of Guerrilla Warfare. And if everybody notices what you are doing before you’re done, you have also missed the point. 

    Then you need to transform your success into high level support. 

    This is the point at which you start to bargain with the senior managers. Show them the local value you have created through KM, and promise them that you can scale this up across the whole company, with little risk and high levels of return on investment. All you need from them in return are resources and support to enable you to take the next step.

    A Guerrilla Strategy is not an easy option, and it requires bravery. Sometimes people instinctively choose a stealth approach to KM because they believe it is less risky. They feel that by working undercover and out of sight, they can avoid high level challenge; the sort of challenge that might lead to the cancellation of the KM program.

    However remember Ken Miller’s words “If nobody notices what you’ve done, you’ve missed the point of guerrilla warfare”. You are only working undercover until you can drop the Knowledge Management bomb.

    View Original Source Here.

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