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

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.

Sponsorship

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.

 

Interview d'expert : Pascal Bernardon, Directeur de Programme KM, FRANCE

Pascal BERNARDON    

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

In my opinion, I think Knowledge Management is going to be more valued by companies. The economic context provides the real value of knowledge and skills used every day by employees, team managers have to explore different ways to achieve their goals, customers claim more agility to get the right service at the right moment for the right price. So to get or to save more customers, companies would have to manage and improve every day their Knowledge Networks. A Knowledge Network is an environment in wich people share and capitalize connections that provide access to the right item, employee, process, information, supplier, customer. In other words, I call this environment the RELATIONSHIP ECONOMY.
 

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

First organizations have to launch pragmatic actions to demonstrate the benefits, to become aware of the organisational change, and to involve more business communities in future Projects. Change managment has to be built by everybody, everyday, and become a new behavior in the culture of the organization. Knowledge Management is a new way to work with all stakeholders, KM gives the power to empower business communities. The big challenge is to know what is the right knowledge I could use to be more efficient. And the right knowledge is the cognitive trigger to extract, to capitalise, to share and to improve everyytime it is necessary.

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

To be pragmatic, to begin with a little project, to put in place an open-minded environment where skateholders could exchange with complete transparancy. Do not forget to put in place measurement criterias in accordance with business work unit to demonstrate benefits.


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

To forget to put in place an individual and a collective, and a internal and external reward system.


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

Oh yes, the culture of the organization is one major point to manage at the beginning of the project. On the same subject the approach and the meaning of each stakeholders  is often different. The community manager has to foster exchanges between members of the community to build a common language and meaning share by everybody. Then the mutlicultural community is able to build knowledge capitalisation and transfers.

Knowledge Management

The easy definition of KM is the ideas, experience, events that people share and exchange in particular issue which can lead improvement as well innovation.

source : by elmi on knowledge-management-online.com

Interview d'expert : Nick Milton & Tom Young, Knoco Ltd., UK

Nick Milton    Tom Young

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

Nick: I think the main trend I see that is closest to my vision, is that KM is becoming a requirement from big companies, who are increasingly requesting that their suppliers and subcontractors develop or demonstrate a capability in KM. This will lead to the mainstreaming of KM.

Tom: I agree, it will take the big companies to make it a requirement of their suppliers and partners to drive it forward.  Thankfully we are already seeing signs of this happening.

Nick: I also see a confusion between content management, information management, social networking, and other elements of KM. Each of these is pulling in a different direction, and there is no integrating model to unify them. I also see a tendency to apply western Km theories to non-western cultures.

Tom: There is very significant confusion between content management, information management, social networking , web 2.0 etc etc which is leading to what I would term as an ‘un informed buyer’; they ask for ‘knowledge management’ but they don’t know what it is, what it can do and more especially what they want it to do for them.  I am not suggesting we need a global definition of ‘knowledge management’ that would be too hard but a better understanding of what each of the other terms mean.
Forcing western models of KM on non western cultures is leading to disappointing results which could backfire on all future km projects.  If a lot of organizations say ‘it didn’t work for us’ people will only hear that message, they won’t think to ask, why not?

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

Nick: Introduce a Knowledge Management Framework. The KM framework approach developed at Knoco is our compilation of nearly 20 years of experience in this field, and represents what we believe is the best approach. The framework is described on the wiki and the website
Introducing a framework is the key at corporate level, introducing knowledge management plans is key at project level

Benefits vary from organization to organization, but may include:

  • Lower cost
  • Higher profit
  • Higher market share
  • Better use of resources
  • Faster delivery
  • Faster time to market
  • Safer operation
  • More environmentally compliant operation
  • Happier stakeholders
  • Greater success rate in development, And so on...

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

Nick: These recommendations are fully documented in our wiki, and again represent our experience over the years. A very brief summary would be :

  • Assess the current state
  • Develop a business led strategy
  • Test the elements of a KM framework
  • Pilot the entire framework
  • Roll out the framework


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

Nick: The 7 most common pitfalls are in this blog post. In summary these are :

  1. KM is not introduced as a change program
  2. The KM team does not have the right people to deliver change. Tom : they create a km team with IT people
  3. The KM team preach only to the choir. Tom : they only talk to km team and people who are interested in km, not to people in the business who want to solve business problems
  4. Only parts of the KM solution are implemented. Tom : framework approach is needed...
  5. KM is never embedded into the business
  6. There is no effective high-level sponsorship
  7. KM is not introduced with a business focus.

Nick: the major cultural hurdles are in this blog post. In summary these are :

  • Knowledge is power
  • Building empires
  • Individual work bias/Local focus
  • Not invented here
  • Fear of "not knowing"
  • Penalising errors
  • No time to share

The main missing enabling and elements are mentioned here.

Nick: Most common enablers :

  • Most companies had a good selection of technology for communicating knowledge - i.e. for enabling dialogue and discussion to exchange tacit knowledge. (This element scored an average of 3.3 on a 1-5 scale, in our same dataset of 28 companies)
     
  • Most companies also had pretty good processes for knowledge identification and capture, whether these were after action reviews, project debriefs, or debriefs of individuals. (An average score of 3.1)


Most common missing elements :

  • Many or most companies had no way of checking whether knowledge management was being applied - in other words, no performance management of KM(An average score of 1.9 on a 1-5 scale). If it's not managed, it remains options, and if it's optional, many people will opt out. We find that 80% of people in an organisation don't care about KM, and unless it is seen as part of the job, they won't bother.
     
  • Also many or most companies had no clear accountabilities assigned to ensuring that knowledge is reused (An average score of 2.1). They might be very good at "knowledge capture" or "knowledge sharing", but if it's nobody's role to ensure re-use, then the capture and sharing is wasted effort.



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

A short overview is below :

  Maturity of KM Culture Approach to KM
USA V high High individuality, low power distance Heavily technology-focused
UK V high High individuality, low power distance Communities of practice, learning from experience
Scandinavia V high Moderate individuality, very low power distance Communities of practice, learning from experience
India Medium High power distance Totally dominated by portals
Middle east Medium to low Very high power distance, low individuality Early days, but looks like rigid systems focused on learning and on knowledge ownership, dominated by experts and heirarchy
Indonesia/Malaysia /Thailand Medium to low Low individuality, high power distance A portal–led approach
China Very low Low individuality, high power distance Impossible to say yet
Russia Very low    
Japan, Singapore High Low individuality, high power distance Relationship focused
Brazil/Argentina/Chile moderate med power distance, low individuality Expert-dominated
Australia High High individuality, low power distance Based on relationships and storytelling


Also see here :
- KM and national culture 1 - UK and Thailand/Malaysia
- KM and national culture 2 - Australia and South Africa
- KM and national culture 3 - Scandinavia and South America

Introduction au Knowledge Management

Source : Knoco, About Knowledge Management