Doing KM "the right way around"

Say what you like about the ISO KM standard; at least it encourages you to address KM in the correct order!

There are many approaches adopted for introducing KM, and not all of them work well. For example the historically common approach of “Technology Push” – where an organisation seeks to buy a KM technology as their first step into KM – is usually a recipe for failure. It is still common today – I have many enquiries from organisations who say “we are starting up in KM – help us choose a technology”.

Starting like this, from the KM tool, is starting KM the wrong way around.  There is no point in choosing a tool until you are clear what you are doing KM, for who, and with what objective; until you understand the stakeholders and objectives, and also the other elements of the KM Framework which need to be in place.

This is where the beginners in KM will find the new ISO standard – ISO 30401:2018 – particularly useful (contact us for a free white-paper introduction to the standard). In common with all other ISO management system standards, IOS 30401:2018 follows a defined structure (described here) which doubles as a logical sequence for building your KM Framework. ISO have standards for many management systems, they know how they work and how to introduce them, and the logical sequence is based on this experience.

This sequence is described in sections 4 through 10 of the standard as follows;

  • First you become clear on the organisational context for KM. Why do you need KM? What will it do for the organisation? What are the external and internal issues which make KM important to you?  This answers the WHY question – why do you need KM? It ties KM to the strategy of the organisation right at the start of the KM thought process; well before you  think about tools.
  • Secondly you become clear on the stakeholders for KM, and what they need from the KM framework. This is another way of looking at KM objectives. In the previous section you decided what KM would do for the organisation, in this section you think through, and document, what it will do for the stakeholders. 
  • Thirdly you look at the scope of KM. What is in scope, what is out of scope, what will KM focus in and what it will ignore, what part of the organisation will be involved and what parts will not. 
  • Only then do you define the Framework – the elements of roles, processes, technology and governance, and how these will affect the culture of the organisation. You look at an integrated framework that covers the lifecycle of knowledge, and covers knowledge in all its forms and transitions. 
  • Once this is in place, the standard requires you to look in more detail at the leadership elements that support the KM framework, including the assignment of accountability.
  • Then you look at planning and objective setting for KM.
  • Then you look at support resources for KM.
  • Then you look at how KM operation, KM monitoring and performance management, and finally continuous improvement of the KM Framework.

Now THAT is KM “the right way round”

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New survey results on planned usage of the ISO KM standard

Last week I launched an online survey of planned uses for the new ISO KM standard: ISO 30401:2018. Here are the results of that survey. 

The survey was announced on this blog, on Twitter, and on LinkedIn (where it was shared by many people). 75 people answered the survey, which seems like a large enough dataset to be representative. The results are shown above, and in the table below.

Response Number
Buy a copy as a useful guide to KM development 20
Self-audit compliance against the standard 17
No plans to engage with it 14
I didn’t even know there was an ISO KM standard 12
Seek external audit of compliance against the standard 5
Bought a copy to be able to advise clients aiming for it. 1
Bought a copy. Now thinking of how could I use THAT… 1
Hasn’t thought about it in a while but now thinking we should use! 1
If I can access through the library I would look at it but I can’t afford to purchase a copy 1
Use it as a communications tool for senior stakeholders to get buy in for a “serious” approach to KM 1
Utilize audit group internally 1
Need to understand it better before I decide whether I need to consider it relevant in my market 1

Over half of the respondents (42 out of 45) plan to use the survey in some way or another, as a useful guide (27%), as a tool for self-audit (23%) or as a tool for external audit (7%).
14 respondents (19%) do not plan to engage with the standard at all. 
Almost as many (12 respondents, 16%) were unaware that it exists. 
The remaining individual responses vary
  • Three of them are effectively “don’t know” responses
  • One is “I can’t afford it”, which you could say equates to not planning to engage with it, for reasons of expense. 
  • One is “utilise audit group” which I suspect is another vote for internal/self-audit
  • One is a KM consultant planning to use it with clients
  • And the final one is interesting – planning to use the standard as a mechanism to engage senior managers. 
If we eliminate the “Don’t know” answers and the “Unaware” answers, and reassign “can’t afford it” and “utilise audit group” as discussed above, then we have the following stats:
  • 60 people knew about the standard and had a view on its use
  • 45 of these (75%) planned to use the standard in some way (as a guide, for internal or external audit, for communication with stakeholders or for supporting clients)
  • 15 (25%) said they had no plans to use it

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How are you planning to use the new ISO KM Standard? Survey, and results

It looks like there is quite a lot of interest in ISO 30401, the ISO management systems standard for Knowledge Management. 

This blog post gives you the results of a recent poll, and the chance to submit your own views, concerning usage of the ISO KM standard.

On Tuesday, the organizers of the KMUK conference ran an online poll, after I had delivered the opening address discussing the standard, its genesis, its structure, and ways in which it can be used. The poll asked “How are you planning to use the new ISO KM Standard” and provided three options;

  • Buy a copy as a useful guide to KM development
  • No plans to engage with it
  • Applying for certification
I had already explained in the keynote that certification, in the sense that it is applied to ISO 9001, is not possible until the accreditation bodies accredit certification companies, so I suspect the last option was interpreted as “aiming to be audited against the standard.”
The results of the 27 replies received are shown in the chart below. 

These results, albeit from a limited sample, suggest that over 60% intend to engage with the standard in some way, with 7% wishing to demonstrate compliance.

But how about you?

Use the poll below to give your views. Note I have used 5 options, so even if you voted at KMUK, please vote again


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ISO KM standard – link to webinar recording

Please find copied below a communication from BSI about the webinar earlier this week where we introduced ISO Management Systems standard 30401 – Knowledge Management, with a request to pass it on to other interested parties.

You can find below links to the slides that were presented, and to a recording of the webinar

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Dear Nicholas,
Thank you for your interest in our Unlocking the value of knowledge – Introduction to BSI ISO 30401 Webinar. You can download the presented material below.  
Please feel free to pass these along to colleagues who may be interested. We hope that you find it interesting and helpful in understanding the new standard.

We look forward to welcoming you to other insightful discussions in the future.

Keep an eye:
BS ISO 30401 will be published soon and you can follow the project status here.

For all general enquiries call +44 345 086 9001 or visit the BSI Group website
Our mailing address is:
BSI Standards
389 Chiswick High Road
London, W4 4AL
United Kingdom
The British Standards Institution (BSI, a company incorporated by Royal Charter), performs the National Standards Body activity (NSB) in the UK. BSI, together with other BSI Group Companies, also offers a broad portfolio of business solutions other than the NSB activity that help businesses worldwide to improve results through Standards-based best practice (such as certification, self-assessment tools, software, product testing, information products and training).

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The ISO KM standard – news and explanations

The ISO KM standard is due for publication in September. Here’s the latest news, and what to expect when the standard is finally ready.

The international committee at work on the standard this week.
That’s me on the far right. Photo by Avigdor Sharon 

This week, in Paris, the ISO working group finished work on the final draft of ISO Management Systems standard. Here are some facts about the standard,  a description of its development, and a discussion of some of the benefits.

First of all, some reassuring words about ISO standards in general and the KM standard in particular.

About the standard

The standard will not try to tell you how to do KM.  This would be crazy – every organisation has to do KM in a way that suits their purpose, objective and context. What the standard does is makes sure you have set up a good management system, to provide solid foundations on which to build your KM solution.

The standard is not just for big companies.  We have tried to make it flexible enough work for organisations of all types and of all sizes.

The standard will not require you to be externally audited.  It’s primarily for your own guidance, with internal audit as a good practice if you so choose. Only a small proportion of the ISO standards are regularly audited  using external auditors, and 90% of audit work is against only 5 standards (9001, 14001, 18001, 27001, 45001); the other 22131 standards mostly never get audited. There would need to be a reason for external audit,for a KM standard and then a set of accredited auditors willing to do the work, and I can’t see either of these being viable for KM, which is relatively niche when compared to topics such as health, safety and quality. The KM standard will be an aid for self-audit and self-examination rather than a requirement for accreditation.

The standard will not take ages to implement. There are 49 uses of the word “shall” in the standard, each of which marks a requirement, but many of those are sub-requirements to a larger requirement. There are maybe 25 or 30 things you need to be able to demonstrate in order to comply with the standard, and the chances are you do most or all of these already.

The standard does not mandate how you implement KM. Top-down, bottom-up, middle-in-out, guerrilla KM, agile KM, or KM as a change program – implement it as you see fit and at your own risk. The standard describes requirements for the final product, not how you get there.

The KM standard will look very much like other ISO standards. That’s because all the ISO management systems standards use the same structure and much of the same text. You can see the mandatory generic text here. The introduction and annexes are unique to the KM standard, but these do not contain any requirements, but are instead explanatory.

The development of the standard

Work on the standard started in 2015 and was conducted by an international committee supported by mirror committees in the main involved countries. Several sessions through 2016 and 2017 created a  draft version of the standard, which was judged in late 2017 to be ready enough to open for public comment.  You can buy a copy of this draft standard here. It will cost you 58 Swiss francs.

The draft was made available for public review and comment over a 6 week period in Dec 2017 and Jan 2018. Hundreds of comments were received. The British site alone received about 350 comments – some of them one-liners pointing out spelling mistakes, others suggesting rewordings for entire sections. Many of the comments gave alternative views on the same points, and needed to be balanced and reconciled; others suggested alterations to the mandatory text which ISO requires to be used. The British working group went through each comment, identifying 270 suggestions to be referred on to the international committee.

This week the committee reviewed the referred comments from all 15 contributing countries – 420 comments in all – and discussed each one, making edits to the text as appropriate. We finished the job, and the standard now goes to ISO for proof-reading and for translation into French, German and Russian. We expect it to be ready for purchase in September, if all goes well.

You can “follow” the development of the standard here
You can read the draft introduction and see the draft table of contents here

Benefits of the standard.

I presented on the standard at KMUK this week, and in discussion afterwards we identified several benefits the standard will bring to knowledge managers:

  • It gives KM legitimacy as a profession. Several people said their management often look at KM as “not a real management discipline”. Now it’s real enough to have its own KM standard.
  • It gives the Knowledge Managers leverage in their organisation. You can say to your management “if we don’t do X, Y and Z our KM won’t be compliant with the ISO standard”.
  • It can be used in bidding for work. If you are bidding based on your organisational expertise, it might be useful to say “Our KM approach is compliant with ISO standard 30401” (provided your internal audit shows this to be the case, of course).
  • And naturally it provides a benchmark for your KM management system; a yardstick for you to measure against, and a guide for those organisations who are newcomers to KM to stop them falling into the common pitfalls.

View Original Source ( Here.

The ISO KM draft standard is now available

After a couple of years of development, the ISO KM standard (ISO 30401) is now open for discussion of the first committee draft.

You can buy a copy of the draft standard from the ISO site for 58 swiss francs, or your own national standards body may allow you to view and comment on the standard online. The British site for review and comment is here, for example (you will need to register).
You have until January 16 to comment, after which the comments will be reviewed by the national standards bodies and passed on to the working group for ISO 30401 for review and revision.

All comments welcome!

My views on this standard can be found in the blog post below:

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Knowledge management – mapping the elephant

Good quality positive dialogue helps us “map out the elephant”

KM working team – me third from left
I have just spent a really interesting couple of days on the working team for the ISO KM standard, and one of the most interesting things was the diversity of emphasis among the KM practitioners. It was not a diversity of overall view – we all shared the same view of KM, its components and the principles on which it was built – but it was a diversity of emphasis on the importance of various components.

You know the story of the blind people and the elephant, each intepreting the animal in different ways. The person holding a leg says “The Elephant is a sort of tree,” the one holding the ear thinks it’s a sheet, the tail holder says it is a snake.

I have worked on Knowledge Management for a long time and I thought I knew what the KM Elephant looks like, but it struck me in the detailed discussions with other experts that maybe I was looking at the Elephant out of proportion.

This came to a head when we were discussing KM Culture.

“Culture is everything in KM” was one view. “If you don’t have the culture in place, then nothing else can happen. It’s the most important thing”. 

“Culture is an output” was the other view. “If you have the right processes and procedures in place, then the right culture will happen. Processes and procedures are the most important thing”.

We had similar discussions about processes, and about technology infrastructure.

How could we have such different views?

We all saw each of the KM components as vital, but each person seemed to choose different elements as “primary”.  We were not blind to the topic – we could all see the whole  KM Elephant, we could see it had 4 legs and a tail and a trunk – but different people favoured different legs, seeing them as a “primary” leg; more important than the other legs.
It was only through long and animated discussion and dialogue – through active listening and sharing with each other –  that we began to synthesise these diverse views, and paint a balanced picture of the elephant as a whole. It was a really interesting few days and a valuable learning experience for me.
There are still strong polarised views about KM which are still in circulation. You will have heard some of them:
  • “Knowledge Management is all about people”
  • “Social media is the new knowledge management” 
  • “Knowledge management is all about change”
  • “Web 2.0 will replace Knowledge Management”
Thats a bit like saying “The Elephant is all about the tail”. “The trunk is the new Elephant”.
Knowledge Management is holistic – it is all about People AND Processes AND Technology AND Governance AND culture AND change etc etc. All of these things are important. The key is to get them in the correct proportion.

Thank you to the ISO team members for helping me see the proportions a little better.

View Original Source Here.

5 external forces that may require your organisation to do Knowledge Management

There are increasingly a number of external factors that can drive the adoption of Knowledge Management in organisations. Here are the top 5.

Good Knowledge Management is increasingly becoming an expectation on organisations; from clients, from customers, from governments and from contracts.  If you cannot build enough support for Knowledge management inside your organisations, look out for these external factors.

KM in contracts.

I posted a while ago about how I was beginning to see KM appearing in tender documents for government and for major clients. Here some example clauses from real contracts;

“the contractor shall employ knowledge management systems and processes to promulgate knowledge and experience resulting from the service to the user community” 

“The contractor shall provide the following … A knowledge management systenm to promulgate lessons learned, good practice and to facilitate improved maintenance and operation”

KM in supplier audits

We have also seen Knowledge Management beginning to be part of big-company suppler audits. In one example, the client fed back fed back to one supplier that

  • your company is formed into silos,
  • your silos are clearly not talking with each other, especially for identification and re-use of lessons learned,
  • your company needs effective Knowledge Management.

KM in pre-qualifications

Given the two trends above, we have been approached by service companies that wanted to demonstrate to clients that they were competent operators, and part of that would be to demonstrate a good KM system, because “our customers will expect us to do KM”.

KM in external third party audit

In several cases, we have been approached by organisations as a direct result of audits by the big consulting companies, who have identified deficiencies in Knowledge Management, and made recommendations that these should be addressed. This is perhaps unsurprising, as the big consultancies are among the leaders in KM, and can recognise when it is not being applied.

    KM as a government expectation

    We can see this most clearly in the UAE (as described in this slideshare) where the government is pressing for the development of a Knowledge Economy, with KM playing a key supporting role. 
    A problem to date, for all of these forces, is that there is no consistent definition of what Knowledge Management actually is. Therefore companies and government departments have had to work out for themselves (often with Knoco’s support and help) what to do to comply with these external requirements. This will change once the ISO KM standard is published (hopefully in 2018), when all that these external bodies will need to do is say “you must demonstrate compliance with the ISO standard”.

    Once the KM standard is in place, expect these external forces to become stronger and more frequent.

    View Original Source Here.