Analysis of a strategic KM role description

This post is an analysis of a KM role description, taken from a recent job vacancy, identifying the core elements of a strategic KM leadership role.

This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY-SA-NC

The job vacancy appeared last week on LinkedIn, and is for a Knowledge Management Manager at Shell, in the Hague.

The full vacancy note appears at the end of this blog post, and I would like this as an example of a high level KM leadership role, driving KM in full  support of business priorities. I point out a number of elements in this role description which combine to make this an excellent example of a strategic role KM. I have marked these elements *1* etc, and discuss them below.

Key elements (my analysis)

  1. The first point is that this role starts from a clear Vision for KM; to become a learning organisation where ideas insights, lessons and best practices are shared and applied for business benefit (“leveraged”). This is good – clarity of vision leads to clarity of role. 
  2. This role builds on a solid foundation – Shell have been a leader in the KM field for decades; winners of the global MAKE awards from 2009 through 2016, and have all of the basics of KM in place. This role is not about introduction or implementation of KM, it is about application.
  3. For Shell, the focus of KM is on delivering value, measured in monetary savings through efficiency improvements. The Vision mentioned above translates into profit.  There is absolute clarity on this. 
  4. This role is part of a strategic plan, with defined strategic priorities. The strategic priorities are to strengthen and extend what already exists (with a main focus on communities of practice), to bring in new areas of technology where these may extend KM capability, and to strengthen existing internal linkages.
  5. Number one accountability is value delivery. The job holder will be measured against the value delivered, with a $1 billion target. This is not a support role where the role-holder can work in the shadows; this role is about serious enabling of the business through KM, with a big-money target at stake in the very short term.
  6. But there is a longer term aspect to the role – to shape KM for the future
  7. And to continue to evolve Shell’s KM Framework.
  8. The last three requirements really speak to the nature of this role in using KM to deliver value to the business. First the holder must be able to translate business needs into KM solutions. They need to be versed in Applied KM.
  9. Secondly they need change management experience. This is one of the main competencies of a KM leader
  10. Thirdly they need excellent diplomacy, negotiation, communication and stakeholder management skills. This person will not deliver $1 billion in value on their own – they will do it in partnership with the business. 

Role description follows; my notes above are indicated by the asterisk-bracketed numbers.

Knowledge Management Manager

The only sustainable competitive advantage is an organization’s ability to learn faster than the competition – Peter Senge. *1 * We want to make Shell a learning organization. Where people can leverage all the lessons and best practices learned in one asset or project and leverage those in another asset or project. Where we have vibrant communities that share ideas and insights across the world. 

We have taken the first steps 

*2*Over the past 6 years, we have built a comprehensive set of structures, processes and applications supported by Working Out Loud behaviors, and implemented this Solution across Shell’s Technical Functions and C&P. This program has touched approximately 43,000 Shell staff in Technical Functions. *3*A total value of over US$480 mln has been delivered through application of key practices in Shell’s business activities. Our ambition is to achieve US$ 1 bln by the end of 2020. 

We need your help to take the next steps.  

In Shell’s Projects & Technology (P&T) business, we are looking for a Knowledge Management manager to help us achieve our ambition, building on the foundations and taking the next step in the journey (4)which consists of 5 key priorities for 2019-2020 

  • Sustain KM in Technical Functions, Strengthen and continuously improve the completed KM implementations in the Technical Functions and C&P 
  • Leverage the communities to improve asset & project performance in close co-operation with the project excellence organization and the production excellence organization
  • Support new and emerging communities including in digital, new energies, etc.
  • Further develop KM solution accelerated application of new digital technologies that, by building on the established infrastructure, will make access to Shell’s knowledge even easier. This includes more focus on mobile technology, further integration and leveraging of data sources, and using advanced analytics and visualisation methods to support the creation of insights from knowledge, with the goal of pro-actively making critical knowledge available to those who need it at the time they need it
  • Strengthen the KM foundation for RDS further integration of KM into Shell’s Organization Development & Learning (OD&L) portfolio, ensuring that a wide range of possible interventions is being considered when addressing business challenges.

The main purpose of this role is to lead Shell’s KM journey to deliver the priorities summarized above and to define and deliver what the journey should look like after 2020. 


  • *5*Deliver the KM plan for 2019-2020, with an aim of delivering US$ 1bln of success stories by the end of 2020. 
  • *6*Shape and drive Shell’s KM journey beyond 2020. 
  • Lead and coach a team of professionals. 
  • Manage several key cross-functional and cross-business communities in order to deliver the overall KM plan. 
  • Drive stronger collaboration with the OD& Learning Managers/Advisors to build integrated solutions leveraging the best of what OD&L has to offer (Knowledge Management, Learning, Change Management, Continuous Improvement, etc.). 
  • *7*Accountable for further defining and delivering the development of Shell’s broader KM solution (in terms of processes, behaviours, tools, ways of working, etc.). 
  • Deliver key metrics, champion success stories and use cases where KM has created and enhanced value for the company. 


  • Drive an RDS wide agenda experience in delivering a cross-functional / cross-business KM Agenda
  • Team leadership Leading a virtual team experience of working within a global team in a virtual and high-ambiguity work environment.
  • Business acumen and understanding of all Shell’s businesses, organizational issues, challenges and needs would be beneficial.
  • *8*Performance consulting experience in diagnosing the root causes of business and functional challenges and translating those into possible relevant KM Solutions
  • *9*Change management experience experience in driving change journeys.
  • *10*Stakeholder management ability to build confidence and manage stakeholders across the organization and at all levels and build effective working relationships/networks.

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But what knowledge do you need to manage?

When beginning with KM, don’t start with the How; start with the What.

We frequently find that when people start thinking about Knowledge Management implementation, they start thinking about the solution first. They may research technology, they may seek out some excellent processes, they may (if they are smart) think about the roles and accountabilities the company will need, and they may contemplate the use of communities of practice, global task forces, virtual teams, blogs, wikis, and any other of the trendy solutions that are popular in the market place.

This is all great thinking, and if they have done well, they may come up with a holistic solution, of Processes, Accountabilities and Technologies, which provides an excellent framework through which Knowledge will flow around the organisation. They have sorted out the How question.
However the question that is often not asked, is the What question.

“What knowledge do we need to manage?” 

This is one of the fundamental questions to get right in your Knowledge Management strategy (this blog post is not about the Why question, which of course is the other fundamental question, and even more important). 
As consultants, one of the greatest Knowledge Management insights we bring to client organisations is that you don’t have to manage it all; just manage the 20% that makes 80% of the difference.

Find out;

  • Exactly what knowledge do we need to flow around the organisation? 
  • What’s the high value stuff? 
  • What’s the knowledge that will give us a competitive edge? 
  • What is the knowledge that will give us “first learner advantage?
  • What knowledge do our people need, to help them make teh decisions that will drive growth, prosperity and customer satisfaction?

If you focus your effort proactively on the knowledge of highest business value – the business-critical knowledge areas –  then your KM efforts will not only be easier, they will deliver far higher benefit.

Focused KM systems add maximum value. By focusing on the 20% of the knowledge that delivers the 80% of the value, it maximises the rate of return on your KM investment. People are busy, time is precious, and so it makes sense to focus your precious time on the highest-value knowledge.

So before you get too far with your KM implementation, ask yourself two questions –

  • Why do we need to manage knowledge better?
  • What knowledge do we actually need to manage?”

The ISO KM standard (ISO 30401:2018) requires you to ask these two questions, plus a third one about stakeholders (the Who question) before you get anywhere near the question of How.

If you want to know how to determine what this critical knowledge is, read this newsletter and see this blog post for advice, also this one. Start with the strategy of the organisation, ask what do we need to do to deliver that strategy, then ask what do we need to know, to be able to do these things. And once you understand the critical knowledge, find out where it lies and who currently holds it, and then determine what tools, processes and roles you need to make it more widely available to the people who need it.

Generally you find the What by starting from the Why. That leads you to the How. Don’t start from the How – that is the wrong end of the chain.

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Is your KM progam reactive, or proactive?

Is your Knowledge Management framework reactive, or proactive? And what’s the difference?

Let’s look at two ways in which you can develop a KM approach of KM Framework. Let’s call them reactive, and proactive.

Reactive KM

A reactive KM framework reacts to events.

  • You may react to the threat of knowledge loss, for example putting in place retention interviewing when a key person is about to retire from the organisation. 
  • You may react to knowledge gain, by capturing and documenting lessons from a project, ensuring that knowledge captured from success or failure is documented for future use.
  • You may collecting best practices from people when they have delivered a great piece of work. 
  • You may react in communities of practice, where people ask for help in solving the problems they have just encountered. 

Proactive KM

A proactive KM framework anticipates events.

  • You may ask, “what is the strategic knowledge the company will need going forward? How will we create it; where will it come from”?  Then you put in place activities and accountabilities to develop that knowledge.
  • You may ask “what is our core knowledge we need to retain and deepen? Where is it, and how do we protect and improve it”. You identify where the knowledge is held by only one person, for example, and make sure that knowledge becomes spread among the community, and documented where possible. You protect the knowledge well before there is any risk of loss. 
  • You may take a proactive view of knowledge in a project, developing a Knowledge Management plan to ensure the project has the knowledge it needs at the start, and identifies the knowledge it should create for others.
  • You may take a proactive view in a community of practice, and ask “What are our key community topics? Lets get our heads together and see if we can combien our knowledge of these topics, and find better ways to work”.
  • Or questions in communities of practice may be more like “How do I avoid problems in my upcoming project”.

A proactive KM approach identifies the key knowledge or knowledge gaps in advance, and puts in place strategies to manage this, whereas in a reactive approach, knowledge management is always “after the event”. As one person described a lesson management system – a typical reactive approach when used in isolation  – as “a thousand locked stable doors after a thousand bolted horses“.

You need both reactive and proactive of course; Knowledge Management is always more “both/and” than “either/or”, and reactive knowledge capture from a “bolted horse” can lead to all the other stables proactively locking their doors (if I may be allowed to extend a metaphor). 

You need both, and if you omit the proactive side, your KM will always be playing catch-up.

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Winning by eliminating mistakes

In some settings, winning by eliminating mistakes is the best strategy

Image from wikimedia commons

Wimbledon fortnight has started in the UK – the two weeks of the year when the TV schedules are taken over by professional tennis. This reminded me of a post from the excellent Farnham Street blog, entitled “Avoiding Stupidity is Easier than Seeking Brilliance”.

This post is based on a book called Extraordinary Tennis Ordinary Players, by Simon Ramo, a scientist and statistician, who argues that professionals win points whereas amateurs lose them. In professional tennis each player plays a nearly perfect game until one player hits an un-returnable ball. In amateur tennis, sooner or later someone makes a mistake and the point is lost. 

In professional tennis, therefore, about 80 per cent of the points are won; in amateur tennis, about 80 per cent of the points are lost.  The strategy to be a winner in amateur tennis is therefore to make no mistakes – to play a conservative game until the other person errs.

The lesson from the book is – if you are in an amatuer game, don’t play to win, play not to lose. Eliminate your mistakes, and victory will follow. You see the same in rugby, where the team that makes the fewest unforced errors often wins,

The Farnham street blog extrapolates from tennis to business and quotes billionaire Charlie Munger as follows;

It is remarkable how much long-term advantage people like us have gotten by trying to be consistently not stupid, instead of trying to be very intelligent”.

One focus of Knowledge Management could easily be the avoidance of repeat mistakes, particularly in a competitive environment, and even more particularly if your organization is prone to unforced errors.

If Knowledge Management can aim at avoiding organisational stupidity, rather than aiming at organisational brilliance, then there may be considerable long term advantage to be gained. It may in some contexts be easier and more profitable to gain long term advantage, like Charlie Munger did, by eliminating stupidity rather than innovating your way to brilliance.

Avoid repeat mistakes – that is a simple vision for KM, and in all but the highest professional games, may be enough to make you a winner.

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How collecting knowledge supports connecting people

The two Knowledge Management strategies of Socialisation and Codification (sometimes called Connecting and Collecting) are often seen as polar opposites. They aren’t. 

Image from wikimedia commons

Connecting and collecting are often cited as alternative KM strategies – as if they were distinct and separate. They are more like Yin and Yang. They are intertwined – each feeds the other. They are like left foot and right foot – each allows the other to progress, and both are needed within your KM Framework. Connecting people often leads to the creation of new documented knowledge. Documented knowledge often acts as a catalyst to connect people.

Here’s a story that shows how.

The Colombia business unit  of a big multinational was going through a major re-organisation. We helped them to “learn before” this exercise (which turned out to run very smoothly) and afterwards we captured their knowledge, and the knowledge from others that we had captured on their behalf,  in a “knowledge asset“; a classic Codification step. As always, the knowledge asset was careful to “keep the name with the knowledge“, so the knowledge was not anonymous, but was credited to individuals.
About a year later, the Venezuela business unit needed to go through a similar restructuring, and began to do their own “learning before”. 

Venezuela first began to access knowledge by working their personal networks, and calling people in Colombia that they just “happened to know”. But before long, one of the Colombians told them about the knowledge asset and sent them the web address.
Now Venezuela had full access to the knowledge of the whole company. 

Initially the 15 top-level guidelines were the most useful part of the knowledge asset, as it gave Venezuela and overview of the things they needed to consider. The “links to people” allowed Venezuela to target the correct people to call for further details; many of them in Colombia, but other people around the company as well. 

 As Venezuela went further into their exercise, they went further into the detail of the knowledge asset, and started to use the check-lists and artifacts. Venezuela were able to complete their restructuring in seven weeks, where it had taken Colombia three months.

The codified knowledge within the asset had facilitated socialisation, and the combination of the two reduced the time of the exercise by over 40%.

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Pendulum swings in KM, and how to avoid them

The problem with Dualism in KM is that it leads to pendulum swings in terms of focus. Here is how to avoid this.

Image form wikimedia commons

There can be quite a lot of Dualism in KM – seeing KM in terms of two mutually exclusive opposites which require a choice. Examples might be

  • A strategy of Connecting (connecting people) vs a Strategy of Collecting (collecting content)
  • KM introduction from the Top-down, or Bottom up
  • KM all about People, or KM is all about Technology
  • A focus on Conversation, or a focus on Content
  • Optimisation for for search or optimisation for browse?

Of course this Dualism is wrong, its always a case of “both/and” rather than “either/or”, and the trouble with Dualism is that when you choose one alternative you neglect the other. Over time, you realise you are missing something and switch your attention to the “opposite pole”.

As a result, KM can suffer from pendulum swings.

To give you an example, one company for many years had a KM approach focused almost entirely on Communities of Practice. After a series of project overruns, they  introduced a framework for project KM, which had a fantastic impact on results.

Over the subsequent years this approach became taken for granted – seen as “embedded”. The high level champion left, and was replaced by a lower level champion, who was replaced again by someone even lower, and gradually attention and governance slipped. The framework began to be ignored, new management came in, and said “project KM doesn’t work – lets put our attention on Communities of Practice instead”.

And so the pendulum swang, with a frequency of a decade.

Maybe in 5 more years there will be a series of project overspends, the spotlight will turn again onto project KM, and the pendulum will begin it’s back-stroke.

How do you guard against this? How do you ensure that KM is given an even-handed and consistent treatment?

A clue comes from a comment from John Donahue on one of my blog posts. John says

I’ve been working with US Army KM programs for some time and even with this structure (of strategic teams) there’s a tendency for KM to slip into IT/Portal management. Fortunately this strategic level guidance allows units to self-assess, and “adjust fire” as they’d say. I don’t believe Army KM would have been so successful without this formalized structure to keep the program on track.

The formalised  strategic guidance – KM Governance – stops the KM pendulum swinging towards IT and Portals. And certainly the company I mentioned above doesn’t have the strategic level guidance.

If you want to avoid the pendulum of fashion when it comes to KM, then you need to set up, and maintain, the strategic level governance that can keep it on the straight and narrow.

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"Just in time" knowledge, or "just in case" knowledge? Which works best?

There are two approaches you can use to KM – a supply-driven and a demand-driven approach, Which works best?

JIT clock from pixabay

“Just in time” knowledge transfer is transfer driven by Demand, and by Pull. Knowledge is transferred only when people need it, in response to an immediate demand (see this blog post for more exploration of this idea).

The advantages of Just-in-time knowledge are as follows:

  • People are only really receptive to knowledge,when they actually need it
  • Knowledge transfer works far more effectively through Pull (where people seek for knowledge when they need it) than Push (where people send out knowledge in the hope that someone might need it)
  • Knowledge transferred in response to a demand will be used immediately
  • Just in time knowledge cuts waste out of the system, and removes knowledge that is transferred in the absence of any demand

The disadvantages of Just-in-time knowledge are as follows:

  • When we are most in need of a decision, we are least discerning about the quality of the knowledge we receive
  • Just-in-time knowledge tends to draw on the tacit knowledge of communities of practice, which is biased by the unreliability of long term memory, and the “availability” bias (which gives undue weight to the recent and the memorable events)
  • You may therefore pick up on what is new and what is different and what is current, and miss out on what is old and what is established
  • Knowledge of infrequent activity becomes lost

As the post quoted above says, “The worst time to look for information is when we need it to make a decision. When we do that we’re more likely to see what’s unique and miss the historical context. We’re also more likely to be biased by what is available”.

Once we lose the long term written memory, and start relying on short term memory, we enter the world of Repeat Mistakes, where changes made to fix things, are unmade in future as the long term memory fades, as old staff move on, and as new people come in with bright ideas and no historical context.  So people change things, only to find that old problems re-emerge.

Therefore Just-in-time knowledge needs also to be accompanied by just-in-case knowledge. This is knowledge that is captured and shared as lessons at the end of a piece of work, “just in case” someone should want to use them again. This is classic “knowledge push”.

The advantages of Just-in-case knowledge are as follows:

  • Just-in-case documented knowledge has shelf-life way beyond the limits of human memory, and well- captured knowledge can last for a very long time
  • Documented knowledge in a knowledge store, if findable and well crafted, can be re-used by very many people
  • Knowledge can grow and improve over time as new experiences and details are added. It can create a balanced record of organisation learning
  • Just-in-case knowledge can reach people who did not even know they needed it
  • Knowledge of infrequent activity can be stored for when it is needed in future

The disadvantages of Just-in-case knowledge are as follows:

  • If Just-in-case knowledge is broadcast and shared at the time it is identified and documented, it adds noise into the system. This is knowledge which is being shared just in case someone needs it, and for everyone else, it is unnecessary noise
  • Just-in-case knowledge, unless well crafted, does not necessarily answer the questions of the user
  • Just-in-case knowledge can go out of date as circumstances change

Both of these approaches have their advantages and disadvantages, and both have their place in a KM Framework. Organisations and Communities of Practice need to focus on answering the immediate problems of the knowledge workers, and satisfying their knowledge needs and demands, at the same time as building up the long-term organisational memory.

It means that Communities of Practice can hold knowledge not just in their collective brains and consciousness, but in their collective history and collective Experience Base.

It means that we need to address both Connect and Collect – Connecting People and Collecting Knowledge – in order to give secure decision support to the Just In Time requests.

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Can you outsource KM support?

Are there any parts of KM support you can outsource? If so, which parts?

You have a successful Knowledge Management program under way. All is going well, but you are under increasing pressure with requests from the business, and you don’t have enough resources to respond to the demand.

You think “I must be able to outsource some of this work”.

But how much can you safely outsource, and what are the elements you need to keep in-house?

Read on, and find out!

What you can’t outsource

Ownership of the knowledge management framework. Knowledge Management needs to keep running, and the KM Framework of roles, processes, technologies and governance needs to be maintained, applied, monitored and continuously improved. Ownership of the Framework is an in-house responsibility, even though you may employ trusted KM consultants to support you.

Ownership of the knowledge management strategy. Although it a very good idea to get an  experienced Knowledge Management consulting company to help you to draft a strategy, the strategy needs to be owned and delivered from within your own company.

Delivery of knowledge management implementation. Although it is a very good idea to get a good experienced Knowledge Management consulting company to help you with implementation, the implementation project needs to be led and delivered from within the company.

Leadership of the communities of practice. The CoPs own your critical organisational knowledge, and this needs to be owned internally.  The CoP leaders should be in-house experts.

Knowledge ownership. The practice owners, the knowledge stewards, the subject matter experts, all need to come from within the company. If you start outsourcing knowledge ownership, then you have really outsourced that particular capability. And that’s fine; companies outsource things like financial management or catering, but you are outsourcing the entire capability and not just management for knowledge capability.

The ownership of content. The content owners need to come from within the organization, although you can bring in an experienced KM consultancy to help create some of the content in the first place.

The application of the knowledge. Applying knowledge is done by your teams, your departments and your individuals.

What you can outsource

Knowledge capture services, such as the capture of lessons learned from projects. This is an intermittent activity, and can sometimes be a high volume activity and sometimes not very much is going on, which makes it hard to resource internally. Knowledge capture requires specific skills, and you may not have a readily available pool of people with those skills in your organisation. This is an ideal service to outsource, and knowledge capture is a service we already provide to many clients.

Knowledge retention services, such as retention interviewing and the creation of knowledge assets from retiring staff. Like the example above, this is a specialized task requiring specialised skills, but one which is intermittent. Many companies outsource this service – Shell outsourced much of their ROCK interviewing for example, and Airbus outsources management of their ExTra program. If you have a sudden workload of retention work, then look to outsource the service.

The facilitation of knowledge management processes, such as peer assist, knowledge exchange, or community of practice launch can be outsourced to trained KM facilitators.

The administration of the online library or the online knowledge base. Shell, for example, outsourced much of the administration work related to their Wikis, such as building cross-links between articles.

Lessons management, and the administration of your lesson management system. You can bring in people to do the day to day work of quality control of lessons, tracking lessons and actions, following up on actions, and gathering and reporting metrics; also the work of lessons analysis.

The development and maintenance of taxonomy and ontology. These are specialist tasks, and you might as well bring in specialists to help with them.

Audit of your knowledge management framework and application. You can bring in an external objective company on a regular basis to check the health of your knowledge management program, and to audit the degree of management of your knowledge assets – ideally using ISO 30401:2018 as a benchmark.

Provision and maintenance of some of your knowledge management technologies. Technologies such as lessons management systems, customer-facing knowledge bases or collaboration tools can be hosted by the technology provider, rather than having to be hosted and maintained from within the organization.

Maintenance of the search technology. Maintaining and tuning the search engine, particularly AI-assisted or semantic search, can be outsourced to a specialist company.

So there are many things you need to do yourself, in-house, but there are a number of specialist services where it makes sense to set up a call-off contract, so you can respond to needs by pulling on a pool of external specialist resource.

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Knowledge Management – a wildflower meadow or a market garden?

In KM – do you “let a thousand flowers bloom”? Or is your garden more planned that that?

Image from wikimedia comons

One of my favourite sayings is that if knowledge is organic, KM is gardening.  And as all gardeners know, gardening is hard work!  Even within the topic of gardening, there is a range of approaches, and we can see that also in KM terms when it comes to how we work with communities of practice.

 There really are two approaches to “community gardening”, which we can call “select and support” and “seed and promote”.

 The first approach sets the conditions for community growth, lets communities emerge spontaneously, and then selects and supports the ones that are felt to be strategic. Its like preparing a patch of soil, allowing flowers (weeds) to appear, then thinning out the ones you don’t want and watering the ones you do want. You get a wildflower garden; unplanned, beautiful, but with many weeds

The second approach is to deliberately seed communities on key topics. Here you plant the things you want to grow – the gardenias and the hollyhocks, or the carrots and the pumpkins. You prepare the ground, plant the seed, and nurture the seedlings. You get a kitchen garden or a market garden.

Each approach has its merits and demerits The “select and support” approach makes use of existing networks and existing energy. As a manager or network champion, you will be “pushing on an open door”. Payback will be rapid, as there will be very little start-up time and cost. The communities will spring up.

However there may be no existing communities which cover the most crucial and strategic topics, and many of the communities that do emerge may have relatively limited business benefit.

 The “seed and promote” approach allows you to set up communities to cover the three areas of

  • Strategic Competencies (crucial to competitive success), 
  • New competencies (crucial to growth and new direction), and 
  • Core competencies (crucial to income and market share). 

The link between business results and the CoP will be more direct in this approach, and you will get greater traction with management.

However payback will take longer, as you need to climb the start-up curve, and it may initially be hard work generating enthusiasm and energy among prospective community members. These communities will take more work, just as creating a vegetable plot full of prize-winning vegetables takes more work.

But the results will almost certainly, in the long term, be more valuable.

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The organisations for which KM is not important

There are a few cases where Knowledge management is not needed in an organisation, and where the organisation need not bother with KM.

Image from

These are as follows.

  • When you have a monopoly, so that normal business pressures do not apply to you. You do not need to worry about growth, or efficiency, or cost control, because you have no worriers. You command the market, and people pay your price.
  • When you are in a business that does not change. Where there is no change, learning is not an issue. If your product does not change, and your processes do not change, and your customers and your competitors do not change, then KM could be a waste of time and money. Until things change, of course.
  • When you provide only labour, not knowledge. There may be some organisations where no knowledge work happens – companies mass-producing hand-made clothing, perhaps, or non-skilled contract employment. If knowledge is not what you sell, then knowledge management may not be of value. 
  • When you are a one-person business, trading on Skill. This is another situation where knowledge is not so important and where KM may be a waste of time. I am not sure that Knowledge Management would add much to the career of a concert violinist, for example, or a famous artist.
  • When there are even bigger problems. They need to be pretty big, but there would be cases where KM is nowhere near the top of the priority list. Lehman brothers in 2008, Union Carbide in 1984, Facebook at the time of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
For the rest of us – those of us who work with knowledge, in a changing world, subject to competition and to constant change but not facing outright disaster, Knowledge Management is something we cannot manage properly without. 

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