Interview d'expert : Stephanie Barnes, Chief Chaos Organizer, Missing Puzzle Piece Consulting, CANADA

Stephanie BARNES    

What is your vision on Knowledge Management future ? What do you think the main trends are today and will be in the next years ?

My vision on the future of Knowledge Management is one that sees it integrated in the normal, everyday operations of all organizations and that uses supporting technology efficiently and effectively. The trends today seem to be towards the socialization of knowledge; I think that will continue over the next few years.

How organizations can use Knowledge Management to improve their competitiveness and optimize their businesses results? And what are the main expected benefits?

The benefits of Knowledge Management are widespread but often intangible and hard to measure. This makes Knowledge Management a difficult activity for many to understand and implement. This intangibility is one of the reasons why, in the early years of Knowledge Management becoming a discipline, IT vendors and indeed organizations latched on to technology as the solution to the problem. Technology makes Knowledge Management tangible, people could see it and understand it, but technology by itself is not the answer. Implementations that focused on technology largely failed as Akhavan (2005), et al identified in article entitled, “Exploring Failure-Factors of Implementing Knowledge Management Systems in Organizations.” Technology is only an enabler. It is the people and processes that are critical. It is the intersection of all three: People, Process, and Technology that leads to the most significant payoffs and benefits for organizations.

One of the biggest benefits of any Knowledge Management system is making available information and knowledge from the rest of the organization. Whether we are talking about business intelligence, CRM, expertise location, records management, enterprise content management, portals, blogs, collaboration, or any other KM technology, they all make knowledge available to improve consistency and standardization in processes, and enhance decision-making. This often results in staff delivering better quality products and services as they are not re-inventing the wheel every time they have to do something.

What are your recommendations to start an effective Knowledge Management project and its successful roll-out?

Understand what problem the organization needs to solve/resolve and consider how to align people, process, and technology with the organization’s strategy in order to solve the challenge/problem that was identified, using knowledge management activities.

In your opinion, what are the major hurdle to overcome and the pitfalls to avoid?


Silos are created when too much emphasis is placed on a single activity whether it’s the Technology, People, or Process to the exclusion of the other two key success activities. For example, focusing on technology and ignoring the people and process part of the programme. Technology is easy to focus on, but it only addresses one of three keys to success.  Developing and implementing people and process initiatives in conjunction with the technology will enable the success of the over-all initiative. By ignoring people and process activities, an organization will have another technology platform that is underutilized.

People/groups not participating

There is always a risk of people/groups not participating, i.e. they will create their own local solutions or will just not participate and that they will continue in their less efficient and effective behaviours. Lack of participation also results in a sub-optimal solution being rolled out, having user input is critical to designing a solution that will be user-friendly, and address pain points helping rather than hindering people’s ability to do their jobs.

Loss of momentum

Loss of momentum occurs when the excitement, enthusiasm, and interest built up in the requirements phase of the project is lost due to delays in selecting and implementing the technology or otherwise moving forward with the KM initiative. At the early stages people are interested and involved, but it is easy for them to lose that focus and commitment /enthusiasm and transfer it to other initiatives.

Passion to lead KM

Not identifying someone with the capacity, commitment and passion to lead the initiative. The KM initiative is not technically difficult but there are significant risks around how it is led, developed and implemented because people have to change their behaviours; facilitating/championing this change requires passion and commitment on the part of the leader. It needs to be someone who has credibility with both management and front-line workers. It also needs to be someone who is senior enough in the organization to have positional power, i.e. someone with influence and visibility.

Link to the business case is lost

Losing the link to the business case is a risk, especially when KM has been viewed as a quick fix for a problem or if a solid business reason for KM is not established. It is critical that the focus remains on solving the business issues that gave rise to this KM initiative in the first place. Losing that link will result in a lack of direction and potential failure of the initiative.

Organizational Culture

The culture of the organization can result in implementation issues and failure. The culture must be taken into consideration and factored into in the change management activities for the programme through communication, and rewards and recognition initiatives.


There is a risk that sponsorship of the initiative will not be clear and directed. Should the programme lose its sponsorship or that sponsorship wane, the programme will be in jeopardy. It is important that people understand the management team supports and endorses the initiative.

Do you think there are cultural specificities on Knowledge Management maturity depending on your geographical location?

Yes, and depending on the culture of the organization, and the individual teams within the organization.