Originally posted 21-Jan-21

Implementing knowledge management can be challenging. In this first post of a two-part series, I describe eight challenges with possible solutions for each.

1. Getting senior leaders to provide funding, demonstrate support, and lead by example.

  • Challenges: Leaders give lip service to KM. For example, they may advocate usage of an enterprise social network, but then continue sending email. They say, “You should fill in your own profile,” but they have someone else fill in theirs. Instead using a KM tool, they delegate it to someone else. They want a KM program but fail to allocate budget and resources for it.

2. Balancing people, process, and technology components.

  • Challenges: Immediately diving into choosing and implementing technology. Fixating on rolling out tools and driving adoption.

3. Delivering tangible business benefits that support organizational objectives and priorities.

  • Challenges: Knowledge management is disconnected from the overall goals of the business. It is not viewed as delivering value to the business.

4. Motivating people to share, innovate, reuse, collaborate, and learn.

  • Challenges: People say that they don’t have time, don’t know what is expected of them, or that leaders don’t expect them to actually perform KM tasks.

5. Establishing a vision for how knowledge management should work, and relentlessly working towards making that vision a reality.

  • Challenges: The end state is not defined, not compelling, or poorly communicated. It’s not clear to people why KM is needed or how it is supposed to work.

6. Defining compelling use cases clearly showing the advantages over existing alternatives, and answering the question “what’s in it for me?”

  • Challenges: The wish for everyone to participate in KM leads to vague requests like, “We want everyone to start connecting and sharing.” If you don’t get more specific than that, you don’t have a very appealing use case. If you say, “Will you please start collaborating globally?” it doesn’t mean anything.

7. Getting people to openly ask for help.

  • Challenges: People are reluctant to ask for help in public, contact people in other organizations, or say the wrong thing. They would rather suffer in silence than expose their ignorance to the world, or to be criticized, blamed, or ridiculed.

8. Making useful information easily findable.

  • Challenges: People can’t find information, resources, or experts they need to do their job. Search doesn’t work, and even when it does, the content is incomplete, obsolete, or irrelevant.

The next post will cover the remaining seven common challenges plus proven practices for addressing them.

Knowledge Management Author and Speaker, Founder of SIKM Leaders Community, Community Evangelist, Knowledge Manager https://sites.google.com/site/stangarfield/