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The Gartner Group cites that: "Knowledge Management promotes an integrated approach to identifying, capturing, retrieving, sharing, and evaluating an enterprises information assets.

Knowledge Management - In 5 minutes or less

These information assets may include databases, documents, policies, procedures, as well as the un-captured tacit expertise and experience stored in individual's heads. Liam Fahey, an adjunct professor at Babson College in Wellesley , says the higher failure rates can be attributed to knowledge management KM initiatives that rely too heavily on technology. Just moving data around may or may not add value to anyone in the enterprise Ambrosio , Churchman has emphasized that to treat knowledge as a collection of information is to rob the concept of all of its life; he posits that knowledge resides in the user and not in the collection.

Similarly, Nonaka and Takeuchi had proposed that knowledge, unlike information, is about beliefs and commitmen t. On a complementary note, Davenport and Prusak ; pp. It originates in the minds of knowers.

Lessons learned

In organizations, it often becomes embedded not only in documents or repositories but also in organizational routines, processes, practices, and norms. Knowledge is at the heart of knowledge management. In literature, a lot of studies have been suggested covering the role of knowledge in improving the performance of management. However, there are few studies about investigating main failure factors in the arena of knowledge management and this subject encouraged the authors of this paper to focus on it.

First, knowledge management systems are often defined in terms of inputs such as data, information technology, best practices, etc. For these inputs to result in business performance, the influence of intervening and moderating variables such as attention, motivation, commitment, creativity, and innovation, has to be better understood and accounted for in design of business models. Ambrosio cites that t he most common error in implementing knowledge management system is failing to coordinate efforts between information technology and human resources.

Malhotra also notes that design of KM system should ensure that adaptation and innovation of business performance outcomes occurs in alignment with changing dynamics of the business environment. Simultaneously, conceiving multiple future trajectories of the information technology and human inputs embedded in the KMS can diminish the risk of rapid obsolescence of such systems. Working with leading companies and government organizations, the IBM Institute for Knowledge-Based Organizations has identified a number of important roadblocks that organizations typically face when implementing knowledge management programs.

Although these are not meant to be an exhaustive list, they represent issues that can hinder the effectiveness of a knowledge management effort, costing organizations time, money, resources and—perhaps, most importantly—their ability to affect meaningful business results. In the next part of the paper we explore a fictional case study about failure in KM efforts, the Calibro company.

The complete documents of case study are available at the reference that the readers can refer to it for more information Hall, An Introduction To Calibro Company. Calibro is a large European pharmaceutical company based in Switzerland with research labs around the world. The overall goal of implementing knowledge management system in Calibro was to provide a collaborative working environment for distributed research staff working on new drug development.

The plan was that it would comprise the "Knowledge Store" and a series of "e-rooms".

Success or Failure in Knowledge Management Systems: A Universal Issue, | SpringerLink

The Knowledge Store would hold documents of common interest to the researchers supplied by them. The e-rooms were "places" for discussion groups to "meet". It was anticipated that this project would increase knowledge sharing and collaborative working throughout the firm, particularly across national boundaries, and that this would lead to faster drug development amongst the distributed research staff.

This project was named Baleine Bleue BB.

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The initiative for Project BB resulted from a chance conversation in at an internal conference between a leader of one of the big research labs - Pascal Delacarte - and Sandy McDonald, a new member of staff who had recently been recruited to the Internal Communications Division of the company from a large US law firm. In the law firm Sandy had had some involvement in intranet development as part of its knowledge management strategy.

She convinced Pascal that the existing technical infrastructure at Calibro could be exploited further if some efforts were put into turning it into a platform for the better organisation of existing resources, as well as the creation of new facilities for communication between staff at the different research centres across the world. He was also very interested to hear from Sandy that it was possible to have a "knowledge management system" and thought that this would overcome numerous problems with the information infrastructure at Calibro.


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For example:. This was a particular problem if the originator of the material moved departments or left the company. Sandy McDonald was keen to make her mark in the company as a new employee with bright ideas and she persuaded Pascal to second one of his junior research staff, Karl Schwartz, to Internal Communications to help her design a prototype "knowledge management system". A placement student in Internal Communications, Paul North, who had been looking for a suitable piece of work that would tie in with his degree in Marketing, also joined the team.

They christened the project Baleine Bleue BB and started their work by reading up on KM and attending some commercial training courses. Sandy was confident that it would not take long to get a prototype up and running, and did not think it necessary to specify a timescale for the work. There was no separate budget. The project itself was funded entirely through Internal Communications and Karl's salary continued to be paid out of the budget of Pascal's research lab.

Because none of the BB team had been in the company for long, they used an organizational chart to identify who to talk to about the proposed work. Because of cost restrictions, they were only able to meet face-to-face with people based in Geneva. However, often times a simple Google search can yield all kinds of answers from people just like you who are solving this problem for themselves through forums, blog posts, or social media.

Search technology is a huge enabler in helping you pinpoint where the holes in your knowledge base are. Once you accept that search technology is here to stay and use it to your advantage, you can start filling in these gaps and making sure both customers and employees receive the best and most accurate information, wherever they happen to find it. What is your company doing to ensure the success of your KM system? His area of expertise is in creating strategies for improving the service operations and overall customer experience by leveraging innovative technology.

Ragsdale drives TSIA's highly regarded technology research agenda, delivering insightful, thought-leadership research and analysis on the most pressing business issues facing services leaders to enable them to better plan and execute their service strategies. He is also author of the book, Lessons Unlearned , which chronicles his year career inside the customer service industry. The Technology Services Industry Association TSIA is dedicated to helping services organizations large and small grow and advance in the technology industry.

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Let's Talk Blog Sign In. The roadmap should indicate the initiation of specific projects to execute the KM Program Strategy. Implementing a knowledge management program and maturing the overall effectiveness of your organization can require significant personnel resources and funding. Implementation of the KM Program will involve the execution of the roadmap, insuring that short term goals and wins are realized to gain momentum and maintain the support of key stakeholders Simmons, These metrics must be utilized in a way to measure the actual effectiveness and comparing that to anticipated results Simmons, Knowing this we must determine, what is the cause and effect?

Is a cultural issue? Or much more? I believe the reason why knowledge management initiatives fail are varied and it stems from the key indicators listed below. The organization must view knowledge management more than just a function of the call center or a cost of doing business. KM is a method of enhancing the collective know-how of the organization, improving productivity, and enhancing overall organizational value.

KM allows tacit knowledge to be leveraged, transferred to increase the quality of work performed across the corporation. This transfer of knowledge is a core value of knowledge management. Successful KM initiatives depend greatly on management backing and has been documented and proven over many years of implementing KM initiatives Davenport, De Long, and Beer, ; Chong and Choi, ; Wu et al, In contrast, failure of KM initiatives have been a consequence of inadequate management support Singh and Kant, ; Weber, ; Pettersson, Developing and operationalizing a KM strategy and subsequent program involves the creation, acceptance, and adoption of processes, values, and systems that are either company-wide or in the very least span across functions, departments, and communities.

Successes and Failures of Knowledge Management

The implementation and long term success of such far reaching changes require top and central management backing, both from the perspective of resource and political support but also to ensure day-to-day acceptance and use of knowledge management. Sustained management support in particular senior leadership support is necessary for continued KM success because of the following factors:.

Without the enforcement of managerial responsibilities, an organization may end up with no control of the shared or reused knowledge. These roles will be an extension of management and will facilitate the distribution of managerial responsibilities of KM and increases the level of KM acumen and at all levels of the organization.

Rhem's book, Knowledge Management in Practice , due out at the end of the year.


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  • Anthony is an Information Systems professional with more than thirty 30 years of experience, focused on implementation of major application systems.