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Knowledge SIG challenges understanding of knowledge management

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Confusion exists over knowledge management in project based organisations, reveals research carried out by the APM Knowledge Specific Interest Group (SIG).

APM Knowledge SIGThe research, part of APM’s Volunteer Research Fund, identified the root of the problem as being poor understanding of what constitutes ‘knowledge’.

A third of respondents said they thought knowledge management was an exercise in capturing and disseminating lessons learned and ignored personal know-how, experience and insights.

Organisations also found it difficult to translate personal, hidden knowledge into action. In fact, nearly a fifth of those questioned had no clear knowledge management process in place.

Part of the problem, according to research lead and APM Knowledge SIG chair Judy Payne, is that project professionals working to tight deadlines don’t appreciate the value of sharing knowledge through personal interaction, taking the faster ‘write it down’ option instead. 

This ticks the knowledge management box in the short term, but fails to create learning that leads to more successful projects. 

She said: “Organisations are left with burgeoning lessons learned databases and hundreds of end-of-project reports but have no idea what to do differently to improve performance.”

The research of 22 pan-sector organisations saw over 200 participants take part in the survey, which asked how project managers approach knowledge management and their understanding of knowledge management practices.

APM is releasing the results of the research in instalments so that project professionals can learn about knowledge management in stages.

Each instalment focuses on a specific aspect of knowledge management covering principles and what happens in practice.

The instalments will be developed into a resource that will help project professionals take action to avoid pitfalls and replicate good knowledge management practices. 

Judy added: “The APM Knowledge SIG would like your views, experiences and ideas. You can ask questions and contribute to the discussion on the research project web pages.

“After all, there is no point in trying to share knowledge about knowledge management without some interaction.”

For more information and previous articles please visit the knowledge management research web pages.

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