How well does your organisation create, share and use knowledge?

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As a Knowledge Management (KM) practitioner, I am frequently frustrated by project managers who tell me that KM is all about writing things down in lessons learned databases. Since starting the Knowledge SIG two years ago, I have become rather cynical about KM in project organisations. All we have to do is convince people to populate these databases with nuggets of wisdom and insist that everyone reviews nuggets relevant to their projects. Then everything will work just fine, wont it?

Last year I started to wonder whether my cynicism was justified. Maybe KM practices in project environments arent so bad after all. I realised that I dont actually have much evidence either way.

There is plenty in the academic literature to suggest that project professionals focus on capturing knowledge rather than acting on it, but there are also examples of organisations encouraging conversations and creating time for people to learn from each other so they can make more informed decisions.

What is the current state ofknowledge managementin project organisations?

Working with the Knowledge SIG team and a colleague I met when we worked together at Henley Business School, I put together a proposal to answer this question.

With support from APM, we are now ready to gather information about KM practices in project-based organisations. KM can mean anything from document management systems to ideas management, so part of the study is about organisations beliefs about knowledge which influence their overall approach to managing it. Rather than simply asking people what they do, we want to find out why and how well organisations create, share and use their knowledge.

The results will give us an overview of the state of KM in project organisations. The why and how well parts will help identify gaps between aspirations and outcomes, with some levers we can pull to close those gaps. We are running the study as a research project and a benchmarking exercise, so participating organisations will find out how their KM approach and practices compare with others.

This is where you come in. Would you like to know where your organisation is in the KM spectrum? To take part in the study, or to find out more, please contact me on or my co-researcher, Nicholas Silburn, on
The anonymised results of the study will be published by APM following completion later this year.

Judy Payne

Posted by Judy Payne on 28th May 2014

About the Author

Judy works as a management consultant and reluctant academic specialising in knowledge management, collaborative working and learning. Her work is positioned firmly on the boundaries between academia and practice. Not the most comfortable place to be, but there’s such a huge gap between the two that there’s a lot of bridging to be done.

Judy works with public, private and third sector organisations to improve their management of knowledge, with universities to develop and deliver online degree programmes and with master’s students to help them learn how to do management research. At APM, she co-founded the Knowledge SIG and is co-chair of the K SIG committee. She has contributed new knowledge management sections to the sixth edition of the PMBOK® Guide and to P3O® Best Management Practice, and represents the UK as an expert on an ISO Working Group developing a knowledge management standard. She is writing a book on KM in project environments.

Judy is also known for introducing collaborative working and social software to the Henley Knowledge Management Forum and for being a member of the #teatowelclub on Twitter.

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