Measuring the ROI of KM

Stan Garfield
6 min readDec 3, 2017

Originally posted Mar 1, 2017

Ark Group Report: Measuring the Return on Investment of Knowledge Management, 2nd edition

I wrote Chapter 7: The case against ROI for knowledge management

Table of Contents

  1. Chapter 1: Understanding the knowledge economy — David Griffiths
  2. Chapter 2: Knowledge management business case arguments — James Gunn
  3. Chapter 3: Using a Knowledge Audit as the basis for determining and driving the ROI of Knowledge Management — Tim Hawley
  4. Chapter 4: The application of Artificial Intelligence to support the value of organisational knowledge and assist the knowledge ROI — James Loft
  5. Chapter 5: Measurement of KM projects — A practical guide for busy people — Hélène Russell
  6. Chapter 6: Believing in organisational progress using data and anecdotes — John Hovell
  7. Chapter 7: The case against ROI for knowledge management — Stan Garfield
  8. Chapter 8: Winning the war by avoiding the battles — Focusing on the I in ROI — Andrew Gent
  9. Chapter 9: An ecological approach to understanding impact in knowledge management practice — Dave Snowden

About the Authors

  1. Stan Garfield is a knowledge manager, communities of practice evangelist, community facilitator, collaboration and social media specialist, social business practitioner, author, speaker, and leader based in Northville, Michigan. He has worked in the field of knowledge management for over 20 years. Stan spent 8 years at Deloitte leading communities and enterprise social networking. Prior to that, he spent 25 years at HP, Compaq, and Digital Equipment Corporation. Stan launched Digital’s first knowledge management programme in 1996, helped develop the corporate KM strategy for Compaq, and led the Worldwide Consulting & Integration Knowledge Management Program for HP. He also worked for PricewaterhouseCoopers, St. Louis University School of Medicine, and Washington University School of Medicine. Stan holds a BS in Applied Mathematics and Computer Science from Washington University in St. Louis. He leads the SIKM Leaders Community with over 600 members globally, and is invited to present at numerous conferences, including KMWorld. Stan has published over 100 LinkedIn articles on leadership, innovation, knowledge management, communities of practice, enterprise social networks, and social media.
  2. Andrew Gent has 30 years of experience working in knowledge management and information architecture for everything from large global corporations to first round startups. His focus is the intersection of knowledge and usability. He is currently the lead information architect at VoltDB Inc. He is also the author of a book of poetry, [explicit lyrics], which won the 2016 Miller Williams Prize.
  3. David Griffiths, PhD (Edin), MSc (Edin), CMgr FCMI is a popular international speaker, consultant, and founder of K3-Cubed Limited. K3 is a University of Edinburgh start-up company (now independent, but funded by the University in 2009 as a result of proprietary Knowledge Management research conducted by David), focused on consulting and development solutions for organisations facing challenges in the areas of Strategy, Knowledge Management, Learning and Development, HR agility, complexity, and resilience. David holds a PhD in Knowledge Management and an MSc in the Management of Training and Development, both from the University of Edinburgh. David is also a chartered fellow with the Chartered Management Institute. In 2014 he wrote a book on HR development for the United States accounting profession, which was recommended by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants as a top read for the profession.
  4. James Gunn is a chartered engineer and has been a knowledge management consultant for 15 years. He has led knowledge management programmes in large organisations including government ministries and the aerospace, electronics, telecoms, and not-for-profit sectors. He has a broad understanding of business, knowledge management, and knowledge technology gained from experience as well as from working as an associate lecturer for the Open University Business School. He now leads KM programme implementations for Tacit Connexions, a knowledge systems integrator. James regularly speaks and writes on knowledge management and knowledge technology. James is a member of the BSI’s working group on ISO 30401 (the Knowledge Management Standard)
  5. Tim Hawley is an experienced consultant and facilitator, advising on knowledge management, organisational change, and business performance improvement. Focusing on improving organisational effectiveness and delivering value from complex integrated change programmes. Tim works with organisations to help shape their thinking around how best to leverage their intellectual capital and align their knowledge management programmes with their business objectives. Enabling organisations to better adapt to their rapidly changing environments by adopting new ways of working and building organisational resilience. Tim has over 30 years of experience across the private, public and third sector, and has led a series of major knowledge management and organisational transformation programmes, often internationally and particularly across Asia. Tim is an associate director of Arup, an independent firm owned in trust on behalf of its staff of designers, planners, engineers, consultants, and technical specialists; and globally recognised for its award-winning approach to knowledge management.
  6. John Hovell is BAE Systems’ head of organisational development (OD), and a practitioner, speaker, and author in OD and KM strategy and methods. John led a team to win a Chairman’s Award at BAE Systems in 2014. Previously, John was part of a knowledge management team at Lockheed Martin. Additionally, he was instrumental in the creation and execution of the enterprise KM strategy for ManTech International Corporation. John volunteered as the corporate lead for the annual STEMmerday event where thousands of participants engaged in science, technology, engineering, and math-related learning activities. John serves on several advisory boards including the International Knowledge Management Institute, Training Industry Quarterly, and Synergy Development and Training. He published a chapter in a book titled ‘Making It Real: Sustaining Knowledge Management’. He earned his master’s degree from The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. and his undergraduate degree from Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia, USA.
  7. James Loft is a graduate of knowledge management from Loughborough University and has worked extensively in innovation and new technologies in transport and financial services, culminating in the running of an Artificial Intelligence consultancy firm that helps companies make AI tools fit their businesses rather than the other way around. His mission is to de-mystify the world of ‘Applied AI’ for organisations and users to level the playing field for the progression of the technology now, rather than as a vision for the future. With an experienced background in innovation and service design he understands the gentle but vital balance between the design and the technology, and advocates an MVP style approach to new technology in order to achieve success. An active member of a community of AI companies, tools, and platforms, James possesses a broad understanding of the possibilities the technologies can offer and will support in their implementation where possible to advance the marketplace.
  8. Hélène Russell of TheKnowledgeBusiness specialises in helping organisations to grow and improve profitability, by helping them to understand and improve their knowledge systems. Hélène is the author of the Law Society’s Knowledge Management Handbook and Legal Monitor’s Practical Projects in Legal KM. She teaches open and in-house courses in Knowledge Management and also offers coaching, mentoring, and advice. She also runs Knowledge Network UK, the only regional knowledge sharing and networking group for law firm KMers in UK. Hélène has spoken extensively on KM for Ark, Butterworths, UWE, Bristol Law Society, Allice, and at Knowledge Network UK, and has written regularly for Managing Partner Magazine. After a decade as a solicitor with a major regional firm specialising in clinical negligence defence litigation, eight years in Knowledge Management and having recently obtained an MBA with distinction, she has a unique, deep understanding of how knowledge flows helps law firms and professional services organisations.
  9. Dave Snowden is director of the Cynefin Centre at Bangor University and chief scientific officer of Cognitive Edge. Formerly a director of the IBM Institute for Knowledge Management he pioneered an organic approach to the field and was identified by Thomas Stewart, former editor of the HBR as one of the leading thinkers on tacit knowledge. He received a special award from the Academy of Management for his contribution to the field and his paper Complex Acts of Knowing is one of the ten most cited articles in the subject.

See also:



Stan Garfield

Knowledge Management Author and Speaker, Founder of SIKM Leaders Community, Community Evangelist, Knowledge Manager