Knowledge Management – Measuring Return on Investment

Apple_and_measure

A common and recurrent theme that I keep coming across is how to measure the value of knowledge management, e.g. the return on investment (ROI) of implementing a knowledge management strategy. This may cross over into having a social media strategy where the goal is to support knowledge sharing, so I’ll use these terms – KM Strategy and social media strategy interchangeably in this particular context.

I don’t doubt the importance of being able to measure results and it’s the job of managers to ensure they get value out of any investment in training, technology, organisational development or whatever.  However, these things are notoriously difficult to measure – for example – how do you put a price on a conversation? This led to me thinking about turning all of this on its head and considering how we should measure the cost of NOT having a knowledge management or social media strategy, or NOT making any change.

Using this approach we can at least examine the current status quo and determine whether business processes, capacity, staff knowledge etc. are fit for purpose.  So, rather than spending time and effort creating a business case for a KM or SM strategy, ask managers to justify why things should stay as they are.

Some pertinent questions for managers might be:

  1. Are your staff currently motivated and inspired?
  2.  Do your staff have all the relevant information to do their jobs effectively?
  3. Do your staff have the right tools for the work they are being asked to do?
  4. Do your staff understand their place in the wider organisation and their input and output dependencies for the business processes they contribute to?
  5. Do your staff have adequate opportunities to share knowledge and information with other parts of the organisation? Are they encouraged to do so?
  6. Are you confident that you can react to rapidly changing demands on your staff?
  7. Do you have sufficient knowledge and information to consider the impact of external events on you and your staff and to plan accordingly?
  8. Do you know what your customers are saying about you (within and external to your organisation)?
  9. Do current policies and guidelines support or hinder you and your staff in their work?
  10. Does your manager fully understand what you and your staff do?

There are probably other questions that could be asked, but the key point is that any question which triggers a negative response is potentially a catalyst for change.  This also means it could become a performance indicator if change is agreed, i.e. using qualitative or quantitative techniques.

So, we have the beginnings of a measurable approach to change; we know where we are now and we should know what the desired outcomes are. The difference is what we need to measure.

Of course, the problem remains that not all changes can be measured in strictly cash value terms, which is what many people consider to be the true meaning of ROI. I go back to the point I made earlier – how do you measure the value of a conversation or some information shared?  The answer is, you don’t, and the sooner that everyone recognises this the better. Measuring impact can be just as important as measuring value.  The impact might be things like improved customer satisfaction (measured using surveys), or less time to complete a task, or improved staff morale (measured using surveys). Any of these can – and potentially will – have an effect in terms of cash value to the organisation, but I firmly believe that converting impact to cash value is an exercise in futility, since more often than not, the formulae and algorithms have too many variables.

So, in terms of ‘ROI’, think ‘Return on Impact’ rather than Return on Investment when considering Knowledge management strategies, and develop the strategy from the starting point of getting staff to justify the present  status quo.  After all, change is part of life, and as Darwin once said:

It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.

(Originally published by Stephen Dale, June 2010)

Posted in Knowledge Management | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Murdermap Mashup

Murdermap Mashup

Spotted originally by my colleague Conrad Taylor, a geospatial application that plots more than 400 homicide cases reported by court reports and the Old Bailey’s archives. Something for the ‘gruesome violence’ mashup category maybe. You can even do deep dive query’s according to the type of murder weapon used, e.g. ligature, knife, gun, etc.

According to the website, the ‘murdermap’ project is dedicated to covering every single case of murder and manslaughter in London from crime to conviction. It aims to create the first ever comprehensive picture of homicide in the modern city by building a database stretching from the era of Jack the Ripper in the late 19th Century to the present day and beyond.

Information is obtained from the police, media coverage, court records and original reporting – and by making the map freely available the site’s owners hope to reveal the stories behind the crime figures.

I’m not quite sure of the utility of this data, other than to criminology researchers, though I guess it might be useful for the housing market, e.g. “am I moving to/living in an area where I’m more likely to be shot or stabbed?” Come to think of it, I’ll check that out!

“Maybe it shows there is a fate worse than death – being mashed up afterwards.” CT

http://www.murdermap.co.uk/murder-map.asp

Posted in Data | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

The Seven Principles of Knowledge Management

Tree of knowledgeWhat would we do without serendipity? I was looking through some of my archived blog posts just now and (re)stumbled across this from Dave Snowden. It’s from a blog he produced in 2008, but as relevant today as it was then. Worth (re)sharing I thought.

  • Knowledge can only be volunteered it cannot be conscripted. You can’t make someone share their knowledge, because you can never measure if they have. You can measure information transfer or process compliance, but you can’t determine if a senior partner has truly passed on all their experience or knowledge of a case.
  • We only know what we know when we need to know it. Human knowledge is deeply contextual and requires stimulus for recall. Unlike computers we do not have a list-all function. Small verbal or nonverbal clues can provide those ah-ha moments when a memory or series of memories are suddenly recalled, in context to enable us to act. When we sleep on things we are engaged in a complex organic form of knowledge recall and creation; in contrast a computer would need to be rebooted.
  • In the context of real need few people will withhold their knowledge. A genuine request for help is not often refused unless there is literally no time or a previous history of distrust. On the other hand ask people to codify all that they know in advance of a contextual enquiry and it will be refused (in practice its impossible anyway). Linking and connecting people is more important than storing their artifacts.
  • Everything is fragmented. We evolved to handle unstructured fragmented fine granularity information objects, not highly structured documents. People will spend hours on the internet, or in casual conversation without any incentive or pressure. However creating and using structured documents requires considerably more effort and time. Our brains evolved to handle fragmented patterns not information.
  • Tolerated failure imprints learning better than success. When my young son burnt his finger on a match he learnt more about the dangers of fire than any amount of parental instruction cold provide. All human cultures have developed forms that allow stories of failure to spread without attribution of blame. Avoidance of failure has greater evolutionary advantage than imitation of success. It follows that attempting to impose best practice systems is flying in the face of over a hundred thousand years of evolution that says it is a bad thing.
  • The way we know things is not the way we report we know things. There is an increasing body of research data which indicates that in the practice of knowledge people use heuristics, past pattern matching and extrapolation to make decisions, coupled with complex blending of ideas and experiences that takes place in nanoseconds. Asked to describe how they made a decision after the event they will tend to provide a more structured process oriented approach which does not match reality. This has major consequences for knowledge management practice.
  • We always know more than we can say, and we will always say more than we can write down. This is probably the most important. The process of taking things from our heads, to our mouths (speaking it) to our hands (writing it down) involves loss of content and context. It is always less than it could have been as it is increasingly codified.

As a corollary to the last point, I recall a conversation with a fellow knowledge professional some years ago, where she asked me what my favourite KM tool or process was.  I responded: “We’re doing it…now”.

“What?” she answered.

“Talking”.

At the end of the day you can’t beat face to face conversations as learning opportunities. Make the most of them when they occur!

Posted in Knowledge Management | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Content Matters – But People Matter More!

people and technololgyI was recently asked to participate in a KM roundtable event that APQC are organising on the subject of Content Management Systems (CMS).  They wanted to gather some perspectives from KM professionals and thought leaders (their wording, not mine) active on Social Media to answer a few questions on the best way for creating and gathering internal enterprise content, organising and maintaining that content and making it easily accessible to employees and other stakeholders.

The questions and my response as follows:-

1. Our best practices research says great content management systems have content developed around stakeholder needs.  Why is this not always the case, and what can companies do to make sure it happens?

I’m not convinced that many content management implementations make the effort to identify all of the potential stakeholders, or perhaps even understand what a “stakeholder” is. A content management solution must take into account the needs and motivations of the major stakeholders, which will include developers, content contributors, business owners, content administrators and production staff.

Some of the reasons why stakeholder needs are not met – or even ignored:

  1. The development-operational divide: IT/Developers don’t fully understand the business, and will opt for a technical solution that they do understand. This usually means some sort of compromise by operations staff, business users and other stakeholders
  1. Security: access blocked to some external services and websites.
  1. Support costs: need for standard applications and devices (not necessarily the best available).
  1. Accelerating rate of change: organisations are finding it increasingly difficult to keep up with a rapidly changing marketplace. New technologies and new content sources take time to be fully integrated into enterprise production systems.

I regret to say the answer may be too radical for some, but it comes down to having a clear strategy for managing rapid change. This will include using Cloud products and services, e.g. SaaS, PaaS or outsourcing some content production processes. Since it ultimately comes down to cost, any such strategy must be accompanied by rapid decommissioning of legacy production processes and technology.

2. What are the keys to having content that different generations of employees can use and understand?

As a first step, recognising that the organisation has employees with different needs, and not just age demographic. But focusing here on the need for more effective knowledge sharing:-

The organisation should strive to ensure that:-

  • Knowledge management efforts are aligned with the organisation’s strategic objectives.
  • Knowledge management activities (learning and sharing) are integrated into every individuals’ daily work activities.
  • More time is available for employee personal development (PKM)  and less on formal (e.g. classroom) training.
  • The use of and growth of personal networks is encouraged – both inside and outside of the organisation. This includes social media.

3. A lot of content management systems are filled with content that is no longer relevant or useful. What processes have you seen or used that ensure CMS isn’t cluttered with material of questionable value?

Any organisation that values the quality of its information assets (and the people who manage them) should have an information governance policy, with compliance owned and monitored by a senior executive or board member (e.g. CIO).

The policy should set out the organisation’s information standards and how compliance with these standards will be measured and reviewed. The policy would typically include:

  • The identification of information assets and the classification into those of importance that merit special attention and those that do not.
  • The quality and quantity of information for effective operation ensuring that, at every level, the information provided is necessary, sufficient, timely, reliable and accurate.
  • The proper use of information in accordance with relevant legal, regulatory, operational and ethical standards, and the roles and responsibilities for the creation, safekeeping, access, change and destruction of information.
  • The competence, suitability and training of people to safeguard and enhance information assets.
  • The protection of information from theft, loss, unauthorised access, abuse and misuse, including information which is the property of others.
  • The harnessing of information assets and their proper use for the benefit of the organisation, including legally protecting, licensing, re-using, combining, re-presenting, publishing and destroying.
  • The strategy for information systems (manual and digital) with particular reference to the costs, benefits and risks arising.

I think this response goes beyond what was asked in the question, but the key point I wanted to get across is that of the importance of information governance. In my experience, few organisations realise the value of their information assets, or recognise the importance of the IM/KM profession in managing these assets. The consequences of losing information, information gaps or using wrong information can range from reputational risk to costly litigation. To be absolutely clear – it’s a management and not a technical or process problem.

Addendum

1. Harold Jarche was also invited to respond to the same APQC questions. His blog post comes at this from a slightly different angle from mine, but still very relevant. In particular I fully endorse his last sentence:

While good content management cannot be done without technology, it’s not about the technology. It’s 90% people.

2. Martin White and Paul Corney have also responded to the APQC Questions at Intranet Focus

Posted in Knowledge Management, Social Business | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

30 ways to fail on Twitter

Twitter Logo FailCulled and curated from a few of my archived blog posts, a few tips on Twitter protocol that might enhance your social media credibility and encourage real people (not Bots) to follow you.

However, to conform with the (slightly misleading) title of this blog post, which you’ve probably guessed was crafted to attract attention, just do the opposite of the items in this list!

  • Don’t auto-reply to follows with a link to your free (but crap) ebook.
  • Don’t provide an obscure description of who you are and what you do.
  • Don’t have a completely blank bio.
  • Don’t refer to yourself as an “expert”.  That’s for others to judge.
  • Don’t have a profile photo or an image that only makes sense to you and your imaginary friends.
  • Always add a link to a great resource you’ve cited.
  • Show you care by customising your background.
  • Don’t have big gaps (e.g. days) between posts.
  • Don’t follow over 1000 people in a 2-hour period.
  • Don’t write about the cat/hamster/holiday over and over again.
  • Don’t swear and expect business people to take you seriously.
  • Don’t over-abbreviate.
  • Don’t tell people on the public timeline that someone else is on vacation.
  • Don’t reply on the public timeline when you meant to DM (or when it should be a DM…).
  • Don’t retweet EVERYTHING!
  • Don’t follow everyone and everything – even those with zero tweets.
  • Don’t auto DM spam.
  • Don’t be stupid (this one is a bit of a challenge for politicians, elected councillors and footballers!)
  • Don’t assume that Twitter is a marketing plan.
  • Don’t get into an argument with an idiot – they will always win!
  • Don’t take credit for tweets that did not originate from you.
  • Don’t report on every piece of news you can get your hands on.
  • Don’t tweet about your need for coffee in the mornings.
  • Don’t tweet emotional rants!
  • Don’t worry about your follower count. The content of your tweets is far more important.
  • Don’t pay for followers (most of them will be bots anyway) – quality trumps quantity.
  • Don’t let spammers into your feed.
  • Use hashtags (and if possible, ones that are already in use) to categorise information.
  • Don’t overuse hashtags (e.g. several in one post).
  • Don’t post a picture of yourself holding a knife, gun or other weapon.

You can probably think of more – if so let me know at @stephendale and I’ll post an updated list.

Posted in Social Enterprise, Social Media, Twitter | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Wider Horizons For Information Audit

HorizonIt’s a paradox of our time that the more information that organisations create or consume, the less they understand it. Specifically, most organisations don’t know what information they’ve got, where it came from, where it is stored, who owns it, how good it is (in terms of accuracy and relevance), and perhaps most importantly, what value it may have, if any. More often than not it’s only when there has been an unauthorised leakage of information, or when wrong information has been published that “management” sit up and take notice. In today’s litigious society, such mistakes can be expensive (just ask the BBC, in relation to the Jimmy Savile saga, or Rotherham Borough Council as a result of the child grooming scandal).

It is perhaps timely, therefore, to revisit some well established information management practices that address this particular facet of information governance, namely the Information Audit.

Pause here for a definition of which there are a number:

From a business point of view, an Information Audit might be the…..

“Analysis and evaluation of an organization’s information system (manual and/or computerised) to detect and rectify blockages, duplication, and leakage of information. The objectives of the audit are to improve accuracy, relevance, security and timeliness of the recorded information.”

(Source: http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/information-audit.html#ixzz3GVqKkkAu)

Another definition for Information Audit, established by the Aslib IRM Network in London, has won acceptance by information professionals, information scientists and the academic community, and states that:

“The Information Audit is a systematic examination of information use, resources and flows, with a verification by reference to both people and existing documents, in order to establish the extent to which they are contributing to an organisation’s objectives”.

As part of its mission to encourage learning and sharing of good/best practice amongst knowledge and information professionals, NetIKX is running a seminar on 4th November on the topic “Wider Horizons For Information Audit”.

Sue Henczel, an internationally renowned expert on Information Audit, with support from Graham Robertson (Bracken Associates), will present and lead discussions on the evolution of the information audit process, the various ways that it is now being used within organisations and how this evolution of information audit aligns with the changes that are occurring within both the information profession and the broader business information management environment. A number of case studies will describe how the IA process has recently been used in Australia.

The intended learning outcomes of this NetIKX seminar are:

  • Recognising the current evolution of the information audit;
  • Accepting information audit as an enterprise information management tool; and
  • Understanding the alignment between the evolution of the information audit process and the information management profession.

More details and a booking form are available from the NetIKX website. The event is free to NetIKX members.

Posted in Information Management | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Making The Case For Enterprise Social Networks

Why is it that so many organisations still struggle to (a) understand what an Enterprise Social Network (ESN) is and (b) how it might benefit their business. Despite the fact that social networking technology has been around for over 10 years, there is still a general lack of social business maturity on the part of many organizations, who appear to lack the culture to be able to understand, appreciate, and leverage ESN’s.

Gartner have reported that over 80% of Social Business efforts will not achieve intended benefits by 2015. At least part of the problem is that where ESN’s have been implemented, they have been treated as technology deployments with a focus on adoption and usage. A different way to think about this is that ESNs represent a new way to communicate and form relationships — and because of that, can bridge gaps that exist in terms of information sharing and decision-making processes.

For anyone yet to be convinced of the benefits of social collaboration within the workplace, here are a few points to add to your business case:

Enterprise Social Networks:-

  1. let employees become happier at work: by allowing all facets of their personalities to be expressed.
  2. connect employees with each other: thus forming deep, long lasting and more meaningful relationships.
  3. encourage every employee to believe they can make a difference.
  4. promote innovation, creativity and change within an organisation. This is achieved through the network culture of communication and collaboration that is created and encouraged by use of Social Media tools. This is opposed to the traditional top down way of management and communication, which is acceptable for some forms of official control and communication in the enterprise. This however is not good for fostering creativity at work and deters innovation from flourishing within the organisation.
  5. avoid the problem of duplication of work in the enterprise by giving much more visibility to what other people are doing. This can be achieved through the use of wikis and open collaborative platforms that encourage sharing and dissemination of ideas and thought processes.
  6. put people with similar interests and skills together and make it easier to search for someone with the skills you are looking for. This allows cross-departmental efforts to be exchanged more seamlessly and organically because the relationships are based on skills and interests rather than the traditional departmental or project base relationship.

Point 4 is perhaps better illustrated below, showing the relationship between traditional command and control structures vs. social networks.

Hierarchies & Networks

It’s also about time organisations got over the mental barrier of making sure that the content on their ESN is strictly about work. They fear that personal discussion will result in less productivity or inappropriate private content. If anything, the organization should encourage “personal” postings because social networks are a representation of who you already are. If you are an unproductive, time-wasting team member, your activities (or lack of) will be plainly visible to everyone. I can think of many other less productive activities,  such as sitting in meetings that have no purpose!

I know it’s been said before, but I’ll repeat it here, because I still see the same old approaches to ESN deployments – focus on behaviours and relationships, and less on the technology.  That way you are more likely to think about value creation rather than tools and features. It’s only through investment in behaviours and relationships that value can be created through:

  • Knowledge sharing
  • Knowledge capture
  • Improved decision-making
  • Employee empowerment

Otherwise Gartner’s predicted 80% failure rate will become reality!

 

Posted in Knowledge Management, Social Business, Social Enterprise, Social Media, Social Networking Tools | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Change to Primary URL

Just a brief note to inform any readers/followers that I have changed the primary URL for this blog from steve-dale.net to stephendale.com. This is part of a rationalisation of domain names that I own, and to distinguish this (mainly) business-related blog content from my personal (non-business) blog content at stephendale.net. Access to this blog is still available from steve-dale.net, and the RSS subscription should not be affected. However, all permalinks have changed to “stephendale.com/xxxx” and as such anyone who has bookmarked content may find that the links may no longer work. This can be fixed by replacing the “steve-dale.net” root of the link to “stephendale.com”.

I have noticed that all of my shared button counts have been zero’d out as a result of this change. Since I’m not a PHP expert I don’t think there is anything I can do about this, and in any case, I don’t have a big enough ego to let it worry me too much!

However, I do apologise for many inconvenience to regular readers or subscribers to this blog.

Steve.

Posted in Social Bookmarks | Tagged , | 1 Comment

We’re all Digital Content Curators (but some of you don’t know it).

drowning

I don’t think I need to convince anyone who regularly uses the Internet or World Wide Web that finding useful and relevant information amongst the volumes of dross we get from advertisers, marketers, brand mangers and those-that-want-to-be-heard-but-have-nothing-of-value-to-say which, unfortunately, accounts for the largest proportion of content that swills around our in-boxes and search results, is becoming increasingly difficult. Information is being pumped at us almost 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This was bad enough when we were shackled to an office desk and a “lobotomised” corporate desktop PC – you know, the ones where IT security bods and corporate policy makers have surgically removed all the useful productivity applications – but now that most of us are connected 24 x 7 via our smartphones, tablets and laptops, information can get to us wherever we are and whatever we’re doing.

So, it’s probably meaningless to conduct a survey that asks people if they suffer from information overload, because I can guarantee that the vast majority would say “yes”. The paradox is that many people don’t realise that they are in control of the situation, and not – as they perceive – helpless victims of this information deluge.

It helps if you’re not a victim of FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out, where you need to sleep with your smartphone under your pillow in case someone sends you an email or SMS text in the middle of the night (which you must of course read and respond to straight away). If so, you may need professional psychological help – which I’m not qualified to give!

But what about all of those unsolicited emails you get, or the inane Tweets you read, or the random messages from people you don’t know (or would rather not know) on various social networks. When was the last time you cleared out the clutter in your various in-boxes and put in place some intelligent filters that prevented the “mad and the bad” information from ever reaching you? When did you last trawl through your newsletters and unsolicited email sources to unsubscribe from anything you don’t need or don’t read? Just deleting them will not make them go away – they’ll be back next week or next month.

The worst of it is that with all of this useless information reaching you, you’re liable to miss the good stuff. Finding useful and trusted sources of information is becoming an art. This is the stuff you want, because it’s relevant to your job, profession or personal life. This is where you need to be a “Digital Content Curator”.

The role of the curator has been around for centuries, but specifically associated with people who practice their profession in the hallowed halls of the world’s museums and galleries. To suggest that digital content curators all bring the same depth and breadth of knowledge as a professional curator might be somewhat missing the point.

Curation, when it comes down to it, is all about creating value from building collections. Curators know that the sum of an experience can be greater than the parts alone. And you don’t always have to be an expert to tell a decent story.

Curators perform four basic actions; they find quality sources of content; they evaluate, organize and store the key elements of the content; they add insight and personal knowledge to what they’ve found; they publish and share through their preferred channels.

I’ll go out on a limb here, and go against the combined wisdom of many expert digital content curators and say that you don’t have to do that final step, publishing and sharing, if the audience is yourself. Perhaps that seems strange, but personal bookmarking is a type of content curation. You’ve found, evaluated, organised and stored something that you have found personally valuable, and you want to be sure you can find it again and use it.

In his Future Show episode 3: The Future Of Work and Jobs, Futurist Gerd Leonhard talks about the growing trend for machine-automation (e.g. robots) taking over repetitive and routine jobs, and identified digital content curation as one of the new and emergent jobs for 21st century knowledge workers, where creativity and human intelligence  – things that can’t readily be ‘roboticised’ – will become more prevalent.

Perhaps this partly explGoogle Trendsains why Google Trends for “content curation” keyword searches have risen 112% in the past week. More and more people are tuning into the topic and wondering if it’s something they should know more about. (The answer to that is “Yes!).

But to go back to the title of this post – “We’re all content curators”. The only way we can ever make sense of the world we now live in, where information permeates every aspect of our on-line presence, is to use and develop our cognitive skills to effectively apply filters that separate the signal from the noise; to know how and where to find trusted sources of content; to sort, organise and categorise information, and to ultimately create value and useful/actionable knowledge – for ourselves and for our audience (if we have one).

This, then, is “digital content curation”. A skill as important as learning how to swim, and just as relevant if you don’t want to drown in a sea of (useless) information!

If you’re still confused, check out this previous post on the topic and/or this Slideshare presentation.

I will be running a Workshop on Digital Content Curation on 20th June in London – there are still a few places left if you want to sign-up, but act soon!

In the mean-time, hone those curation skills and avoid the robots!

Posted in Curation, Knowledge Management | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Barriers To Knowledge Sharing

Knowledge ManagementKnowledge sharing is the corner-stone of many organisations’ knowledge-management (KM) strategy. Despite the growing significance of knowledge sharing’s practices for organisations’ competitiveness and market performance, several barriers make it difficult for KM to achieve the goals and deliver a positive return on investment.

This list of knowledge sharing barriers provides a helpful starting point and guideline for senior managers auditing their existing practices with a view to identifying any bottle-necks and improving on the overall effectiveness of knowledge-sharing activities.

The list will also give some indication of the complexity of knowledge sharing as a value-creating organisational activity.

The list is based on an academic paper by Andreas Riege  [ “Three-dozen knowledge-sharing barriers managers must consider”, Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 9 Iss: 3, pp.18 – 35] and is divided into three categories: personal, organisational and technological.

Personal knowledge sharing barriers

  • general lack of time to share knowledge, and time to identify colleagues in need of specific knowledge;
  • apprehension of fear that sharing may reduce or jeopardise people’s job security;
  • low awareness and realisation of the value and benefit of possessed knowledge to others;
  • dominance in sharing explicit over tacit knowledge such as know-how and experience that requires hands-on learning, observation, dialogue and interactive problem solving;
  • use of strong hierarchy, position-based status, and formal power (“pull rank”);
  • insufficient capture, evaluation, feedback, communication, and tolerance of past mistakes that would enhance individual and organisational learning effects;
  • differences in experience levels;
  • lack of contact time and interaction between knowledge sources and recipients;
  • poor verbal/written communication and interpersonal skills;
  • age differences;
  • gender differences;
  • lack of social network;
  • differences in education levels;
  • taking ownership of intellectual property due to fear of not receiving just recognition and accreditation from managers and colleagues;
  • lack of trust in people because they misuse knowledge or take unjust credit for it;
  • lack of trust in the accuracy and credibility of knowledge due to the source; and
  • differences in national culture or ethnic background; and values and beliefs associated with it (language is part of this).

Organisational knowledge sharing barriers

  • integration of KM strategy and sharing initiatives into the company’s goals and strategic approach is missing or unclear;
  • lack of leadership and managerial direction in terms of clearly communicating the benefits and values of knowledge sharing practices;
  • shortage of formal and informal spaces to share, reflect and generate (new) knowledge;
  • lack of transparent rewards and recognition systems that would motivate people to share more of their knowledge;
  • existing corporate culture does not provide sufficient support for sharing practices;
  • deficiency of company resources that would provide adequate sharing opportunities;
  • external competitiveness within business units or functional areas and between subsidiaries can be high (e.g. not invented here syndrome);
  • communication and knowledge flows are restricted into certain directions (e.g. top-down);
  • physical work environment and layout of work areas restrict effect sharing practices;
  • internal competitiveness within business units, functional areas, and subsidiaries can be high;
  • hierarchical organisation structure inhibits or slows down most sharing practices; and
  • size of business units often is not small enough and unmanageable to enhance contact and facilitate ease of sharing.

Technological knowledge sharing barriers

  • lack of integration of IT systems and processes impedes on the way people do things;
  • lack of technical support (internal and external) and immediate maintenance of integrated IT systems obstructs work routines and communication flows;
  • unrealistic expectations of employees as to what technology can do and cannot do;
  • lack of compatibility between diverse IT systems and processes;
  • mismatch between individuals’ need requirements and integrated IT systems and processes restrict sharing practices;
  • reluctance to use IT systems due to lack of familiarity and experience with them;
  • lack of training regarding employee familiarisation of new IT systems and processes;
  • lack of communication and demonstration of all advantages of any new system over existing ones.

And a  final point – worth bearing in mind for those people (or organisations) who think that a KM strategy is something that you implement as a document or a slideshow (I know, I’ve worked for a few!):

Why is it that some organisations still focus on the document, and being able to hold ‘the strategy’ in their hands? We need to be able to hold the strategy in our heads, not our hands and this happens when its implementation is embedded in what the organisation does, day in and day out.

Amen to that!

Posted in Knowledge Management, PKM | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments