Part 2: Survey Results

What we asked and how we analysed the results

We asked people to tell us what knowledge management practices exist in their organisations, using their own words. We made it clear that we were looking for practices of different kinds, including HR interventions.

To analyse what people told us, we produced a standard list of knowledge management practices from the survey responses and classified each item on the list by underlying knowledge perspective: structural, process, practice or some combination of these. A few of the knowledge management practices were classified as ‘any’ perspective because they can be applied in different ways. 

For each organisation we produced a list of knowledge management practices, ranked by frequency of mentions by respondents.  This list was used to compare the organisation’s most-mentioned practices with its stated approach to knowledge management: structural, process or practice.

Headlines

The level of alignment between organisations’ stated approach to knowledge management and what they actually do in practice was variable:

  • Most organisations reported practices drawn from all three knowledge perspectives, regardless of their stated approach to knowledge management. 
  • Organisations with a stated structural approach reported a high number of process and practice activities.
  • Several organisations with a stated process approach reported a high proportion of structural practices.

Examples

Organisation 19 has been doing knowledge management for many years and has a good reputation for its knowledge management work. 100% of respondents from this organisation reported a process perspective on knowledge and 86% stated a process approach to knowledge management.

The organisation’s top reported knowledge management processes include knowledge sharing-events, communities of practice and information-sharing processes. Knowledge management practices break down as follows:

Bearing in mind that the practice perspective on knowledge management is closely related to the process perspective, Organisation 19 has a strong, shared process understanding of knowledge that is reflected in its approach to knowledge management and its knowledge management practices.

Organisation 6 is new to knowledge management. 100% of respondents from this organisation reported a process perspective on knowledge, but disagreed on the overall approach to knowledge management. Half reported a process approach, 25% reported a structural approach and 25% reported a practice approach.

The organisation’s top reported knowledge management processes include information-sharing processes, meetings and lessons learned reviews. Knowledge management practices break down as follows:

 

Organisation 6 has a strong, shared process understanding of knowledge but this isn’t carried through to its overall approach to knowledge management or to its knowledge management practices. Although the majority of respondents report a process approach, what the organisation actually does includes a lot of structural ‘capture and disseminate’ methods that are closer to information management than knowledge management.

Organisation 3 has been doing knowledge management for several years. 67% of respondents from this organisation reported a process perspective on knowledge and the remaining 33% reported a structural perspective. In contrast, 100% of respondents reported a structural approach to knowledge management.

The organisation’s top reported knowledge management processes include enterprise knowledge and information systems, lessons learned reviews and knowledge-sharing events. Knowledge management practices break down as follows:

Organisation 3 has a clear mismatch between its stated structural approach to knowledge management and what it actually does – which shows a strong preference for process activities. Discussion with the organisation revealed that they are doing ‘knowledge management by stealth’: using structural, information management as a tangible cover to get support for more valuable process-based knowledge management. This ‘Knowledge management by stealth’ explanation could also account for the possible confusion over the meaning of ‘knowledge’.

What is going on?

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