KM Question of the Week
Q: We have recently undertaken a global initiative to propose a much-needed KM foundation for our business. One of the first things we are doing is assessing our current state around KM as a whole. Is there a Knowledge Audit checklist that we can use at our department level?
A: Here are sources of information on knowledge audits:
- Ann Hylton: A KM Initiative is Unlikely to Succeed Without a Knowledge Audit
- Ann Hylton: A Knowledge Audit Must be People-Centred & People Focused
- National Library for Health: Conducting a Knowledge Audit
- Chris Collison and Geoff Parcell: KM self assessment
- KnowMap: Toolkit: Auditing
- KnowMap: Case Studies: Audits
- David Skyrme: Conducting a Knowledge Audit
- NASA: Knowledge Audit
- Carl Frappaolo: Knowledge Management (pages 118–122)
- Knowledge Audits by Patrick Lambe
General k-audit steps can be broken down into 3 major steps:
- Identify what knowledge currently exists in the targeted area
- Determine existing and potential sinks, sources, flows, and constraints in the targeted area, including environmental factors that could influence the targeted area
- Identify and locate explicit and tacit knowledge in the targeted area
- Build a knowledge map of the taxonomy and knowledge flow in the targeted area — The knowledge map consists of repositories, people, and flow of knowledge within the targeted area
- Identify what knowledge is missing in the targeted area
- Perform a gap analysis to determine what knowledge is missing in the targeted area
- Determine who needs the missing knowledge
- Provide recommendations from the knowledge audit to management such that the knowledge management activities in the targeted area can be improved.
Some of the methods that can be used for data collection in steps 1–2 are semi-structured/structured interviews, simulation, critiquing, 20 questions, surveys and document analysis. You can use one of the already existing questionnaires for surveys or build one from scratch. I would recommend constructing your own survey/interview questionnaires based on the objectives and current problems in the target area.
There isn’t a universally accept model for the knowledge audit process because of the dramatically varying structures, natures and circumstances of the organizations in which they are conducted. It is necessary to understand or develop clear objectives prior conducting a knowledge audit — why are you conducting a knowledge audit? Your objectives must be clear and simple, specific, realistic and measurable.
Every knowledge worker in a department/organization is involved in the following 6 knowledge management activities:
- Knowledge Identification and Creation
- Knowledge Collection and Capture
- Knowledge Storage and Organization
- Knowledge Sharing and Dissemination
- Knowledge Application and Use
- Knowledge Archival or Disposal.
And we deal with two different types of knowledge — tacit and explicit. The question “Is there a Knowledge Audit checklist that we can use at our department level?” leads to several questions before we can identify/develop a checklist that can serve your purpose:
- What are your objectives for conducting a knowledge audit? Are you trying to sell an idea to management via the knowledge audit, conducting audit as a part of completion of a project or wish to see knowledge audit as continuum?
- Have you defined a scope or target area, i.e., which knowledge management activities are you planning to target via the knowledge audit? What types of knowledge assets will be audited — tacit, explicit or both?
- Do you also wish to identify and map knowledge flows within the department?
- Have you selected a methodology for audit or do you currently have a methodology for your audit? Some approaches include surveys, assets mapping or intellectual capital inventorying, Knowledge Landscape Mapping, competitive knowledge analysis, knowledge flowcharting and analysis, and knowledge mapping. You will select approaches for your audit based on your objectives.
- Have you communicated everyone in your department about the knowledge audit? The communication is important before, during and after the audit. Do they understand their role in the data collection stage? Effective communication will minimize resistance towards suggested changes and help you gain support.
- Do you have management support for the audit? Have you identified a team leader who will ensure effective communication among the management and department before, during and after the audit?
Knowledge audits must be flexible and could be bend to meet the varying conditions and constraints of an organization. Once you have adapted/developed your methodology you would be able to develop a checklist of your own as no one checklist fits all knowledge audits; constraints and conditions are constantly changing and so does our objectives.
KM Blog of the Week
Jack Vinson’s blog is one of the first knowledge management blogs I came across — several years before I decided to go off and create my own site. Check out Jack’s blog archives for proof of that fact — you’ll find loads of useful content in there.
I’ve been writing Jack’s blog since I found it — and considering the quality Jack has consistently put into his blog (and I know how hard it is to keep up with blogging over time), I don’t intend to stop reading any time soon.
Not only is Jack a prolific knowledge management blogger, he is also president of Knowledge Jolt Inc., a knowledge management consultancy firm.
So, on to the meat of this post. Jack was kind enough to answer some questions about collaboration, knowledge management, and the future direction of these interrelated fields.
KM Link of the Week
Previous research has examined different understandings of the concept of knowledge management and from this, a multiplicity of approaches to implement strategies have been derived. This paper presents research that examines the role of governance as a framework to ensure the effective delivery of a knowledge management strategy.
Knowledge management governance is considered and a conceptual framework developed to appropriately position knowledge management governance within the organization. It draws on the results of research into knowledge management governance practices in a major scientific research facility and those in a confectionary manufacturer. We conclude that the implementation of a knowledge management strategy through such a framework ensures the delivery of anticipated benefits in an authorized and regulated manner.
KM Book of the Week
Yale professors Barry Nalebuff and Ian Ayres engage readers in an intriguing oxymoron. They believe invention can be automated. Why Not? outlines a populist high-octane approach to creative problem solving. “We aspire for this book to change the way people think about their own ability to change the world.” The authors’ ideas and examples — from adopting British water conserving toilets to having telemarketers pay you to listen — bristle with energy, conviction, and occasional loopiness. Their approach upends cliched problem solving models by asking, “What would Croseus (the ancient rich king) do?” They take Edward de Bono’s lateral thinking out for a spin, suggesting pay for view television might include a fee for eliminating commercials.
Nalebuff and Ayres are at their best in exploring “Idea Arbitrage,” a tool for applying one solution to a host of other problems and yielding day care at IKEA, corporate vanity stamps, and library coffee houses. Some promising concepts, such as the technique of leveraging mistakes to create new solutions, are not as clear as others. Overall, the authors make an entertaining case for the idea that innovators are made and not born.
Robert F. Kennedy challenged us to “dream of things that never were and say, Why not?” Why Not? is a primer for fresh business thinking, for problem solving with a purpose, for bringing the world a few steps closer to the way it should be. Idealistic? Yes. Unrealistic? No. Authors Barry Nalebuff and Ian Ayres have spent their careers asking questions, solving problems, and bringing fresh ideas to market — from insurance that protects against a decline in your home’s value to Honest Tea, bottled iced tea that actually tastes like tea. Illustrated with examples from every aspect of life, this book offers simple techniques for generating ingenious solutions to existing problems and for applying existing solutions to new problems.
In the spirit of Edward de Bono’s Lateral Thinking, Why Not? will help you take the things we all see, every day and think about them in a new way. Why not have telemarketers pay you for your time when they call? Why not sell a mortgage that automatically refinances when interest rates drop? Why not organize a “buycott” rather than a boycott? Why Not? will provoke you into finding new business opportunities using everyday ingenuity. Great ideas are waiting. Why not be the one to discover them?
Barry Nalebuff is the Milton Steinbach Professor of Economics at Yale School of Management and co-author of Co-opetition and Thinking Strategically. Ian Ayres is the William K. Townsend Professor of Law at Yale Law School.
Preface — Why Why Not?
- Chapter 1 — The Way Things Never Were
- Chapter 2 — Good Ideas and How to Generate Them
Problems in Search of Solutions
- Chapter 3 — What Would Croesus Do? — Taking the Perspective of an Unconstrained Consumer
- Chapter 4 — Why Don’t You Feel My Pain? — Internalizing the External Effects of Decision Making
Solutions in Search of Problems
- Chapter 5 — Where Else Would It Work? — Looking for Idea Arbitrage
- Chapter 6 — Would Flipping It Work? — Trying Things the Other Way Around
Problem Solving with a Purpose
- Chapter 7 — Principled Problem Solving — A Guide to Thinking Inside the Box
- Chapter 8 — The Case for Honest Tea
- Chapter 9 — Reinventing Regulation
- Chapter 10 — Implementing Why-Not
Appendix — Solution to the Ten-Seed Problem