Why its important to convey the value of Knowledge Management
The most important thing you can do for KM within your company, is help people to understand the value.
I often say that “knowledge management is how people would manage their organisations if only they knew the value of their knowledge”. If they understood the unrealised value of the knowledge assets they already hold, they would willingly invest in that value. And if they understood the value of the knowledge they risk losing, they would invest in retaining it.
If you know what something is worth, you know you need to look after it. If you don’t know what its worth, you don’t treat it with due care.
Organisations which apply knowledge management really well, report huge value. Mars, with their billion dollars of knowledge-enabled value, Texas Instruments with their “free fabrication plant” through KM, Shell with their $200m value per year.
The value is delivered through giving people access to better knowledge, so that they can make better decisions. Knowledge can be transferred from good performers to poor performers, or carried forward from one project to another, in order to improve business results. If you know the value, you can justify the investment.
In one drilling program, we anticipated that KM could save in the order of $100m (in the end, we saved $83m). So when management challenged investment in three full-time learning engineers, the KM team were able to justify this investment by pointing to the scale of the potential savings.
So an early exercise for you to undertake in your KM program is to estimate the “size of the prize” that KM could bring.
- Look at some of our value stories. Do they provide analogues for you?
- Can you estimate the cost of lost knowledge?
- Can you calculate what it would be worth to accelerate your learning rates?
- Can you use our Bird Island exercise to help people feel the value?
Once the senior decision makers understand the value that KM can bring, and the size of the potential prize, you will find it far easier to get support!