Why KM Fails …


On his blog, Nick Milton brings out the parallels between some of the reasons why E 2.0 fails, to why KM fails. The reasons that are listed here make sense. It stands to reason why these reasons would contribute to the success of a KM initiative. However, there is one reason which, while being mentioned in meaning, is not actually mentiond on this list. This, i would say, is value.

One of the major reasons for KM initiatives to fail is that there is no clear demonstration of value that could come from these initiatives. Now, i agree that quantifying value from KM initiatives is something which is not straightforward. So, thats not what i am talking about here. What i am talking about here is the value that users of these initiatives can expect to get in their day-to-day work. In other words, why they should participate in these initiatives. Without this, KM initiatives become just another initiative among others, and the message of the things which KM could achieve for the organization, and for people, is lost. this does come out in the form of adoption, but maybe this should be stressed upon more clearly.

Another aspect that could probably be added here is that KM should be a part of the day-to-day work of people, and not something additional that they have to do. As i have written before, participation in KM initiatives should be an integral part of people’s day-to-day work. This may not sound too important, but this is probably one of the largest impediments to greater adoption.

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4 Comments on “Why KM Fails …”

  1. Murali says:

    I actually have 2 comments Atul
    1. People only agree with what you say, only if they already agree with you (adaptation from an old Frank Zappa quote), and anecdotal evidence of value through KM faces this everyday. That said it still happens to be a very powerful change mechanism.
    2. Esp within IT services industry and is probably true for other developing or not so mature idustries as well, is places where KM can intervene and make a difference, suffer something I call as "initiative fatigue". There are all sorts of initiatives running within the organization all the way from ops, finance, hr, training, quality and yes km as well. On my count this range is from 4-7 at any point in time for a project. KM stands very little scope/chance for impact without embedding itself and showing business relevance continously.

  2. Atul says:

    Agree with you about the embedding part. There are a number of initiatives which run, but behind these initiatives is knowledge. This is an aspect which needs to be taken clearly to understand how KM can bring value. Relevance is the word you have used … which i think is one of the things which is very important to describing how KM can bring value, because relvance is the context of this value.

  3. Nick Milton says:

    I did think about this, but I guess I saw it as covered by number 8

    "8.Pushing Enterprise 2.0 (or KM) as a generic toolbox instead of the solution to specific problems"

    If KM solves probelsm, it adds value

  4. Atul says:

    Agree with you, Nick, that it is covered, but would look at it more from the perspective of people, the wiifm part. From the organization, its clear, but people need incentives, and maybe HR based incentives are not enough?


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