The 5 ways in which KM becomes embedded

There are 5 ways in which KM can be embedded in an organisation. Some of these are more common than others, and to fully embed KM can take over a decade.

The most common ways of embedding KM, from the Knoco 2014 and 2017 surveys

I often have people ask me what “embedding” Knowledge Management actually means, and how you do it.  Embedding Knowledge Management means making part of the normal work process, rather than an add-on. You do this in six ways, listed below in the order of most common applicaiton, as shown in the graph above.

You change the technology suite so that Knowledge Management tools are available, and used, as part of the working toolkit, and linked into the existing work tools. While email remains the number one work tool for many people, then link your KM tools into this, rather than requiring people to acquire a new habit. New habits can develop later, when KM becomes part of natural behaviour.

You change the Organigram to include Knowledge Management roles and accountabilities. You introduce new roles where needed (lesson teams for example, leaders and coordinators for the big Communities of practice, Practice Owners and so on), and change some of the accountabilities of existing roles (the most senior experts, for example, need clear KM accountabilities, as described here. You need to change their job descriptions, so that they are held acountable for stewardship of the company knowledge). Then you measure and reward people against their performance in these roles, and against these accountabilities, just as you measure and reward them against any other component of their job.

You change the high level processes and activities, embedding Knowledge Management processes and activities into the work cycles (using the principles of Learning Before, During and After). Change the project requirements, to include mandatory processes for capture of knowledge at the end of the project or after key milestones, and mandatory processes for reviewing past knowledge at the start of the project. Change the rules for project sanction, so a project gets no money if it hasn’t done any learning.

You change the behaviours through peer pressures and through management expectation.

You change the governance system to include KM. Write it into the policies. Write it into the way people are rewarded. Change the reporting requirements, the HR appraisal mechanism, change the incentive scheme to reward collaboration and discourage competition.  This is the least common embedding approach, but it needs to be done eventually.

These changes should embed KM as part of the way people work, and so make KM part of everyone’s job.  Once this is the case, you can claim KM is embedded and fully mature, as shown below.

The degree of embedding KM into normal activity, vs KM maturity. Results from Knoco 2014 and 2017 surveys

However this takes time. The chart below shows how this level of embedding varies with the length of time organisations have been doing KM.  Even after 16 years working with KM, only half the organisations claim KM is fully integrated and routine, rather than a non-routine activity.

The degree of embedding vs the length of time doing KM. Results from Knoco 2014 and 2017 surveys

View Original Source (nickmilton.com) Here.

The most common missing elements from KM frameworks

When we review client Knowledge Management frameworks, it is often the same two elements that are missiong, or poorly developed.

One of the services we offer at Knoco is an assessment and benchmarking of client Knowledge Management Frameworks, to assess for completeness and maturity.

We do this in two ways, through a high level online self-assessment, and through a detailed diagnostic study where we conduct in-depth interviews and bring an expert eye to bear on your KM approach.

And you know what? There are some interesting patterns emerging from the results.

Let’s look at the average results from the online survey results first (top right; components are scored from 1 to 5) and look at the factors that, on average, receive the lowest score. These are:

  • Roles and accountabilities (a lack of clear KM roles and accountabilities in the organisation)
  • Business alignment (KM not aligned with business goals and objectives)
  • Governance (no governance, for example no clear expectations, no performance management, no support)
On the other hand, the highest scores are Technology, and Behaviours and Cultures.
Many organisations think that the way to address KM is to address behaviours and culture, and to buy technology. The results of the survey suggest that these elements are relatively well covered, and that instead, or in addition, you should introduce some accountable roles, align KM with the business objectives, and get some governance in place, in order to deliver value from the technology and behaviours you already have.
If we look at the results from our detailed diagnostic analysis, we see a similar pattern. The diagnosis includes a more detailed analysis and different scoring levels, but if we extract the scores for the elements of People, Processes, Technologies and Governance, thenTechnology scores highest, Governance scores lowest, and People (roles and accountabilities) scores second lowest.
Technology is not the biggest KM problem our clients have. A lack of governance is the biggest problem, and the lack of accoumntable roles is second.
Also we can extract, from the detailed diagnostic, average scores for the four Nonaka elements of Socialisation, Externalisation, Combination, and Internalisation. 
Socialisation (the transfer of knowledge through discussion and conversation, either face to face or through social networks) scores highest, followed by Combination (working with explicit knowledge, combining and storing it).
The lowest score, and significantly lower, goes to Internalisation (the interaction with, and re-use of, explicit knowledge).
Socialising and Sharing, and building knowledge bases, are not the biggest KM problems our clients have. Re-use and internalisation of knowledge is the biggest problem.
The message from these results is that if you are seeking to improve the effectiveness of your Knowledge management approach, the knee-jerk reactions of “buy more technology” and “build a sharing culture” may not address where the weaknesses actually are. You may need to think more about roles and accountabilities, about business alignment, about governance and about re-use of knowledge. 

View Original Source (nickmilton.com) Here.

What Google Trends really tells us about KM popularity

Again yesterday I was corresponding with someone who used Google Trends as an argument that KM was dying.

Taken at face value this view is understandable. The google trends plot for KM decreases over time as shown below, showing a steady reduction in relative searches for the term “knowledge management” over the past 8 years.  At first sight this could suggest that the popularity of KM is on the wane, and that fewer and fewer people are searching for the term. However if you dig a little deeper this plot is misleading, and the conclusion that interest in KM is dying is actually a fallacy.

Let me explain why.

Google trends is not an absolute indicator of the popularity of a topic.

That is because Google trends measures “how often a term is searched for relative to the total number of searches, globally”, and the total number of searches, everywhere in the world, has rocketed (screengrab from this site below).

Any decrease in the relative percentage, as in the first graph, has to be normalised against the increase in the total number of searches in the second graph.  If the top graph is a measure of the percentage and the bottom graph is the total, then all we need to do is multiply them together to get a measure of the total number of KM searches, and then we will be able to say something meaningful.

That is exactly what I have done in the plot below. The numbers are inexact, as I have just read points visually from the first plot (see table at the base of the post for figures) but the conclusion is obvious.

Conclusion 
Google trends is a meaningless indicator unless normalised against the total number of searches. If you do this, then far from KM being in a decline …

… the total number of Google searches for Knowledge Management has actually increased steadily from 2004 to 2012.  

Raw data for the 3rd graph
year total searches (billion) Googletrends measure of KM share measure of total number of searches for KM
2004 86 100 8600
2005 141 70 9870
2006 230 50 11500
2007 372 40 14880
2008 584 30 17520
2009 792 25 19800
2010 998 21 20958
2011 1109 20 22180
2012 1216 19 23104

View Original Source (nickmilton.com) Here.

Is KM dead? Further evidence of life

We often hear claims that KM is dead or dying, but what does the hard data say?

The “KM is Dead” meme is one with a long history; see articles from 2004, 200820112012, 2015, 2016 to choose but a few. It still seems to resurface several times a year; usually when a software vendor has something to sell (example).

Very seldom are these assertions of the demise of KM accompanied by any data or analysis of trends, other than the Googletrends plot, which as we have seen, is based on searches as a proportion of the total, and would also  point to the demise of project management, risk management, financial management, and so on.

I showed some data from our global KM survey last year which suggested that the uptake of KM may actually be increasing, and here is some new data from the academic world.  The authors of this new study looked at academic KM publications since 1974, when the term was first used, and one of the tables in the text of their article is a list of the number of academic KM publications per year. I used this table to create the graph above.

I don’t think you could look at this plot and say KM is dead. You might say it has slowed down a little since a peak in 2010, and that the current number of publications is at about 80% of peak levels, but that’s a long way from being dead or dying.

Is KM dead? According to the number of academic publications – No!

View Original Source (nickmilton.com) Here.

The link between lesson learning maturity and effectiveness.

What is the best type of storage system for lessons learned? Our survey data compares the options.

We conducted a big survey of Knowledge Management this year, following on from a previous survey in 2014. Both surveys contained an optional section on lesson learning, and across both surveys we collected 222 responses related to lesson learning.

One of the lessons learned questions was “Rate the effectiveness of your organisational lessons learned process in delivering performance improvement, from 5 (completely effective) to 0 (completely ineffective)”

Another asked the respondent where their lessons were most commonly stored.

By combining these two questions, we can look at the average effectiveness of lesson learning for each storage option, as shown in the chart above. You can see clearly that organisations where lessons are stored within a custom lesson management system are far more likely to rate their lesson learning as effective than those where lessons are stored as sections within project reports, or not stored at all. Other storage options are linked to intermediate ratings scores.

This links back to a blog post I wrote in 2012 on the maturity of lesson learned systems. 

Here I identified a number of maturity levels, from level 1a through level 3. The supporting technology for storing lessons is only one part of the maturity system, but it struck me today that you can overlay these maturity levels on the chart, as shown below.

  • In levels 1a and 1b, lessons are stored in project reports
  • In level 1c, lessons are stored in a spearate system – a database, a wiki, a spreadsheet
  • In level 1d, individuals can “follow” certain types of lessons, and be notified when new lessons appear
  • In level 2, lessons are stored in a lesson management system which allows them to be routed to experts to embed lessons into practice.

The diagram shows that each progression from one maturity level to the next is associated with an increase in effectiveness of the lesson learning system.

View Original Source (nickmilton.com) Here.

More data on the health of KM (revised)

Is KM dying, alive and well, or on life support? Let’s bring some data into the debate (this post updated based on further data).

The debate about the health of KM is a perennial topic, with people variously claiming “KM is dead”, “KM is alive and well” or “KM is on life support”.  The item commonly missing in these claims is hard data; people instead going on their impressions, or on the bold claim of a replacement for KM that overthrows its older rival.

I have tried my best to bring some hard data into it, such as the apparent accelerating start-up rate of organisations, taken from the Knoco survey data (the counter-argument to which might be that more recent entrants to the KM game are more likely to have responded to the survey).
Here are some more data.
3 years ago I did a survey within LinkedIn, looking at the number of people in different countries with “Knowledge” in their job title (or or Conocimiento, or Connaissance, or Kennis, etc etc depending on language). From this I concluded that there are probably about 32,000 knowledge managers in the world, with the greatest concentration in Switzerland and the Netherlands, and the lowest concentration in Russia and Brazil.
This survey is easy to repeat, and to compare the number of people now with Knowledge or its equivalent in their job title, with the number of people then. The results for the top 10 countries in terms of search results are shown in the figure above and the table below.

total K people 2014 total K people 2017
USA
10483
12494
UK
3431
3989
India
3244
4228
Canada
1736
2000
Netherlands
1656
1988
Australia
1105
1388
Spain
820
788
France
803
1000
Brazil
733
988

In every case the number of people with a Knowledge job title has increased, but about 26%.

However the number of people from those countries on linkedin has also increased (thanks to Mahomed Nazir for pointing this out).

If we look at the number of people with Knowledge in their job title as a percentage of LinkedIn users, then things change, as the population of LinkedIn has grown a lot over the last few years.  The figures below represent the number of people from a particular country with Knowledge or its translation in their job title, per million LinkedIn unsers from that country.
K people per million LinkedIn users 2014 total K people per million LinkedIn users 2017
USA
101
97
UK
214
181
India
130
101
Canada
174
157
Netherlands
325
331
Australia
184
174
Spain
128
143
France
97
107
Brazil
41
33
Here some countries have seen a fall in the percentage of people with a Knowledge job title, others have seen a rise. On average, numbers have fallen by 6%.
So in conclusion, over the last 3 years, the number of people with Knowledge etc as a job title on LinkedIn has increased by 26%, but this becomes a 6% decline in percentage terms if you allow for the overall population growth of LinkedIn.
 Is this the death of KM? Unlikely.
Could it be a slow decline? Possibly. 
I think we need to collect more data like this over a longer time period, and see if any trends continue.

View Original Source (nickmilton.com) Here.

How Knowledge Management maturity progresses

Here is a nice graph from our global KM surveys that shows how KM maturity progresses.

This graph is a combination of two questions, and we have combined answers from both the 2014 and 2017 surveys, so over 570 answers are included in the graph. The first question was:

Which of the following best describes the current status of KM within this organisation (or part of the 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

The second question was

To what extent is KM now integrated with the normal work of the organisation? Choose the sentence that most closely fits your answer.

  • KM is not part of normal activity but is being addressed by a separate group
  • KM is performed as a one-off intervention after which business returns to normal 
  • KM is a non-routine part of normal activity, done as an exception or when requested 
  • KM is fully integrated and is a routine part of normal activity or operations 

 The graph shows how the responses to the second question vary according to the first question, and shows how the integration of KM changes with maturity.

In the early stages of KM, KM is mostly either performed by a separate group (30% of responses) or as an exception to normal process (48% of responses).

For organisations which are well in progress, the role of the separate group is much reduced (to 12% of responses), as is the one-off intervention. The largest proportion of responses is still that KM is an exception to normal process (54% of responses), but the second largest is that KM is fully integrated in normal activity.

For organisations who claim that KM is fully embedded, almost three quarters say that KM is fully integrated in normal activity.

As you might expect, there is a close link between fully embedded KM, and full integration of KM activities into operations.

View Original Source Here.

KM is dead? Here’s data that shows the opposite.

We often hear people say that Knowledge Management is dead, but in fact it has never been so much alive, with an accelerating take-up of the topic.

The idea that “KM is dead” is a meme that has been with us for over a decade (2004, 200820112012, 2015, 2016 to choose but a few) and which resurfaces several times a year; usually when a software vendor has something to sell (example). Very seldom are these assertions of the demise of KM accompanied by any data or analysis of trends, other than the Googletrends plot, which as we have seen, is based on searches as a proportion of the total, and would also  point to the demise of project management, risk management, financial management, and so on. 
So where are the data to measure the health of the Knowledge Management sector?

That’s partly why we conducted our KM survey last month – to collect data. one of the sets of data we collected was related to the length of time organisations have been doing KM, and properly analysed this could show us whether the take-up of KM was accelerating or slowing.

We asked people “How many years has this organisation been doing Knowledge Management? Please select the closest number from the list below, giving them the following options:

  • 0 years
  • .5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 4
  • 8
  • 16
  • 32 years
The results from this question are shown below.  Of course we need to state the obvious caveat, which is to say that

(disclaimer) these results are representative only of the population of organisations which took the survey, and not necessarily of the entire KM population. 


At first sight it looks as if the “hump” of KM was 8 years ago, with more organisations choosing the category “8 years” than any other.

However we need to realise that this is not a linear scale, and that organisations who chose “8 years” as the closest number had actually been doing KM for between 6 and 12 years – a 6 year period, with organisations starting KM at a rate of about 17 a year over that period. Contrast that with the 21 organisations that have started KM in the last 6 months, and we see that this plot is misleading, and that we need to have some way to plot KM start-up in a linear way.

That’s what we did in the plot below.

This plot takes the same figures, and converts them into the “KM start-year”. So the organisations that had started KM between 6 and 12 years ago, at a rate of about 17 a year over that period, are shown with start dates from 2006 to 2011.

Now the picture is very different. Now we can see that the rate of take-up of KM is accelerating considerably. A very similar pattern was seen in our 2014 survey, though with different absolute values as it was a different set of participants.

These data suggest that KM is not only far from dead, it is increasing in popularity year on year as an increasing number of organisations take up the topic.

View Original Source 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”.

    Conclusions

    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.

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