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ABC of KnowIedge Management

lreely exlracled lrom lhe NHS Nalional Library lor Heallh al hllp.//
by Ceraud Servin
Crealor. NHS Nalional Library lor Heallh. Knowledge Managemenl Specialisl Library
Conlribulor. Caroline De 8run
Publicalion Dale. July 2005
TabIe of Contents
1 WHAT S KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT?.................................................................................... 3
1.1 What is knowledge management?......................................................................................................... 3
1.2 What is knowledge?............................................................................................................................... 3
1.3 Why do we need knowledge management?.......................................................................................... 3
1.4 What does knowledge management involve?........................................................................................ 4
1.5 Some "textbook definitions of knowledge management....................................................................... 5
2 PRNCPLES AND PROCESSES OF KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT..........................................6
2.1 Right knowledge, right place, right time................................................................................................. 6
2.2 Types of knowledge: explicit and tacit................................................................................................... 6
2.3 Types of knowledge: old and new.......................................................................................................... 6
2.4 Ways with knowledge: collecting and connecting.................................................................................. 7
2.5 Ways with knowledge: people, processes and technology.................................................................... 8
3 GENERAL CONCEPTS.................................................................................................................. 9
3.1 A brief history of knowledge management............................................................................................. 9
3.2 The "knowledge economy................................................................................................................... 10
3.3 Knowledge management in the public sector...................................................................................... 10
4 GETTNG STARTED.....................................................................................................................12
4.2 KM toolbox inventory of tools and techniques................................................................................... 14
4.3 After Action Reviews............................................................................................................................ 15
4.4 Communities of Practice...................................................................................................................... 18
4.5 Conducting a knowledge audit............................................................................................................. 22
4.6 Developing a knowledge management strategy.................................................................................. 25
4.7 Exit interviews...................................................................................................................................... 29
4.8 dentifying and sharing best practices.................................................................................................. 31
4.9 Knowledge centres.............................................................................................................................. 34
4.10 Knowledge harvesting........................................................................................................................ 36
4.11 Peer assists....................................................................................................................................... 39
4.12 Social Network Analysis..................................................................................................................... 42
4.13 Storytelling......................................................................................................................................... 44
4.14 White Pages...................................................................................................................................... 48
5 DEVELOPNG THE KM ENVRONMENT.....................................................................................51
5.1 People.................................................................................................................................................. 51
5.2 KM Processes...................................................................................................................................... 57
5.3 KM Technology.................................................................................................................................... 59
6 MEASURNG THE EFFECTS OF KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT..............................................64
6.1 Why measure?..................................................................................................................................... 64
6.2 What to measure? Common measurement approaches...................................................................... 64
6.3 How to measure? ................................................................................................................................ 66
7 KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT GLOSSARY OF TERMS............................................................68
1 What is knowledge management?
Knowledge managemenl is based on lhe idea lhal an organisalion's mosl valuable resource is lhe knowledge ol
ils people. Therelore, lhe exlenl lo which an organisalion perlorms well, will depend, among olher lhings, on
how elleclively ils people can creale new knowledge, share knowledge around lhe organisalion, and use lhal
knowledge lo besl ellecl.
ll you have read any ol lhe huge array ol knowledge managemenl books and arlicles lhal are currenlly available,
you are possibly leeling slighlly bewildered. Perhaps you are wondering whelher knowledge managemenl is jusl
lhe lalesl lad and hoping lhal il you ignore il, il will evenlually go away. Lel's be honesl knowledge
managemenl is surrounded by a greal deal ol hype. 8ul il you can pul lhe hype lo one side, you will lind lhal
many ol lhe lools, lechniques and processes ol knowledge managemenl aclually make a greal deal ol common
sense, are already parl ol whal you do, and can greally help you in your job.
1.1 What is knowledge management?
Many ol us simply do nol lhink in lerms ol managing knowledge, bul we all do il. Lach ol us is a personal slore
ol knowledge wilh lraining, experiences, and inlormal nelworks ol lriends and colleagues, whom we seek oul
when we wanl lo solve a problem or explore an opporlunily. Lssenlially, we gel lhings done and succeed by
knowing an answer or knowing someone who does.
lundamenlally, knowledge managemenl is aboul applying lhe colleclive knowledge ol lhe enlire worklorce lo
achieve specilic organisalional goals. The aim ol knowledge managemenl is nol necessarily lo manage all
knowledge, jusl lhe knowledge lhal is mosl imporlanl lo lhe organisalion. ll is aboul ensuring lhal people have
lhe knowledge lhey need, where lhey need il, when lhey need il lhe righl knowledge, in lhe righl place, al
lhe righl lime.
Knowledge managemenl is unlorlunalely a misleading lerm knowledge resides in people's heads and
managing il is nol really possible or desirable. Whal we can do, and whal lhe ideas behind knowledge
managemenl are all aboul, is lo eslablish an environmenl in which people are encouraged lo creale, learn,
share, and use knowledge logelher lor lhe benelil ol lhe organisalion, lhe people who work in il, and lhe
organisalion's cuslomers (or in lhe case ol lhe NHS, palienls).
1.2 What is knowledge?
Academics have debaled lhe meaning ol "knowledge" since lhe word was invenled, bul lel's nol gel inlo lhal
here. A diclionary delinilion is "lhe lacls, leelings or experiences known by a person or group ol people"
(Collins Lnglish Diclionary). Knowledge is derived lrom inlormalion bul il is richer and more meaninglul lhan
inlormalion. ll includes lamiliarily, awareness and underslanding gained lhrough experience or sludy, and
resulls lrom making comparisons, idenlilying consequences, and making conneclions. Some experls include
wisdom and insighl in lheir delinilions ol knowledge. ln organisalional lerms, knowledge is generally lhoughl ol
as being "know how", or "applied aclion". The lasl poinl is an imporlanl one. Today's organisalions conlain a
vasl amounl ol knowledge and lhe NHS is cerlainly no exceplion. However, in applying knowledge managemenl
principles and praclices in our organisalion, knowledge is nol our end, bul lhe means lor lurlher aclion. Whal
we are lrying lo do is lo use our knowledge lo gel beller al doing whal we do, i.e. heallh care and heallh care
1.3 Why do we need knowledge management?
Knowledge managemenl is based on lhe idea lhal an organisalion's mosl valuable resource is lhe knowledge ol
ils people. This is nol a new idea organisalions have been managing "human resources" lor years. Whal is
new is lhe locus on knowledge. This locus is being driven by lhe acceleraled rale ol change in loday's
organisalions and in sociely as a whole. Knowledge managemenl recognises lhal loday nearly all jobs involve
"knowledge work" and so all slall are "knowledge workers" lo some degree or anolher meaning lhal lheir
job depends more on lheir knowledge lhan lheir manual skills. This means lhal crealing, sharing and using
knowledge are among lhe mosl imporlanl aclivilies ol nearly every person in every organisalion.
ll is easy lo see lhe imporlance ol knowledge in lhe heallh seclor. As clinicians, managers and olher
praclilioners, we all rely on whal we know lo do our jobs elleclively. 8ul....
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1 What is knowledge management?
Do we know everylhing we need lo know or are lhere gaps in our knowledge? Ol course lhere are. Medical
advances are being made all lhe lime so lhere is always new knowledge lo be learned. Covernmenl policies are
conslanlly evolving, as are managemenl praclices. The currenl modernisalion programme requires us lo lel go ol
whal we knew and lo learn and apply new knowledge. Changing doclor-palienl relalionships are requiring us lo
revisil our whole approach lo lhe provision ol heallh care. And ol course, every new palienl lhal comes lhrough
our door brings a polenlial new learning opporlunily.
Do we share whal we know? The NHS is made up ol over a million individuals in hundreds ol organisalions,
each ol which have lheir own knowledge. ls lhe knowledge ol individuals available lo lhe whole organisalion? ls
lhe knowledge or organisalions available lo lhe whole NHS? Nol al presenl. How many limes have we losl
valuable knowledge and experlise when a slall member moves on? How many limes have we "reinvenled lhe
wheel" when we could have learned lrom someone else's experience? How many limes have palienls sullered
as a resull ol lhe "poslcode lollery"?
Do we use whal we know lo besl ellecl? Nol always. ln lhe NHS Plan, lhe NHS was described as "a !940s
inlraslruclure operaling in lhe 2!sl cenlury". Clearly our knowledge has nol always been applied lo besl ellecl,
and we have lallen behind lhe limes. How many limes have we had an idea aboul how a process or an aclivily
could be improved, bul lell we lacked lhe lime or resources lo do anylhing aboul il? How many limes have we
had an idea lhal mighl help our colleagues, bul we keep quiel because our colleagues mighl nol appreciale us
"lelling lhem how lo do lheir job"? How many limes have we implemenled a new inilialive, only lo lind we
reverled back lo lhe "old way" a lew monlhs laler? Perhaps we have had insighls aboul how our palienls"
needs could be beller mel, bul lhere was no lorum lor us lo share and explore lhose insighls so we jusl lorgol
aboul il.
These are jusl a lew examples.
Almosl everylhing we do in lhe NHS is based on our knowledge. ll we do nol conslanlly updale and renew our
knowledge, share our knowledge, and lhen use lhal knowledge lo do lhings dillerenlly and beller, lhen our
people, our organisalions, our palienls and lhe general public will ullimalely suller. We know lhis because il has
already happened. As The NHS Plan (2000) allirms, in spile ol our many achievemenls, lhe NHS has lailed lo
keep pace wilh changes in our sociely. Whal can lranslorm lhal, along wilh lhe currenl inveslmenl and
modernisalion programme, is harnessing lhe vasl colleclive knowledge ol lhe people working in lhe NHS, and
using il lo besl ellecl. Thal is why we need knowledge managemenl.
1.4 What does knowledge management involve?
Knowledge managemenl is essenlially aboul lacililaling lhe processes by which knowledge is crealed, shared
and used in organisalions. ll is nol aboul selling up a new deparlmenl or gelling in a new compuler syslem. ll is
aboul making small changes lo lhe way everyone in lhe organisalion works. There are many ways ol looking al
knowledge managemenl and dillerenl organisalions will lake dillerenl approaches. Cenerally speaking, crealing
a knowledge environmenl usually requires changing organisalional values and cullure, changing people's
behaviours and work pallerns, and providing people wilh easy access lo each olher and lo relevanl inlormalion
ln lerms ol how lhal is done, lhe processes ol knowledge managemenl are many and varied. As knowledge
managemenl is a relalively new concepl, organisalions are slill linding lheir way and so lhere is no single agreed
way lorward or besl praclice. This is a lime ol much lrial and error. Similarly, lo simply copy lhe praclices ol
anolher organisalion would probably nol work because each organisalion laces a dillerenl sel ol knowledge
managemenl problems and challenges. Knowledge managemenl is essenlially aboul people how lhey creale,
share and use knowledge, and so no knowledge managemenl lool will work il il is nol applied in a manner lhal
is sensilive lo lhe ways people lhink and behave.
Thal being said, lhere are ol course a whole rall ol oplions in lerms ol lools and lechniques, many ol which are
nol new. Many ol lhe processes lhal currenlly lall under lhe banner ol knowledge managemenl have been
around lor a long lime, bul as parl ol lunclions such as lraining, human resources, inlernal communicalions,
inlormalion lechnology, librarianship, records managemenl and markeling lo name a lew. And some ol lhose
processes can be very simple, such as.
providing induclion packs lull ol "know how" lo new slall,
conducling exil inlerviews when slall leave so lhal lheir knowledge is nol losl lo lhe organisalion,
crealing dalabases ol all publicalions produced by an organisalion so lhal slall can access lhem lrom
lheir desk,
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1 What is knowledge management?
providing ongoing learning so lhal people can conslanlly updale lheir knowledge,
encouraging people wilh a common inleresl lo nelwork wilh each olher,
crealing eleclronic liling syslems lhal can be searched in a number ol ways, making lhe inlormalion
much easier lo lind,
redesigning ollices lo be open plan so lhal slall and managers are more visible and lalk lo each
olher more,
pulling slall direclories online so lhal people can easily lind oul who does whal and where lhey are,
crealing inlranels so lhal slall can access all kinds ol organisalional inlormalion and knowledge lhal
mighl olherwise lake a greal deal ol lime and energy lo lind.
1.5 Some 'textbook" definitions of knowledge management
Here are a lew delinilions.
"Clinical knowledge managemenl means enhancing lhe idenlilicalion, disseminalion, awareness and
applicalion ol lhe resulls ol research relevanl lo clinical praclice in heallh and social care."
Jeremy Wyall
"The crealion and subsequenl managemenl ol an environmenl, which encourages knowledge lo be
crealed, shared, learnl, enhanced, organised and ulilized lor lhe benelil ol lhe organisalion and ils
Abell & Oxbrow, llpl Lld, 200!
"Knowledge managemenl is a process lhal emphasises generaling, capluring and sharing
inlormalion know how and inlegraling lhese inlo business praclices and decision making lor grealer
organisalional benelil."
Maggie Haines, NHS Acling Direclor ol KM
"The capabililies by which communilies wilhin an organisalion caplure lhe knowledge lhal is crilical
lo lhem, conslanlly improve il, and make il available in lhe mosl elleclive manner lo lhose people
who need il, so lhal lhey can exploil il crealively lo add value as a normal parl ol lheir work."
8Sl's A Cuide lo Cood Praclice in KM
"Knowledge is power, which is why people who had il in lhe pasl ollen lried lo make a secrel ol il.
ln posl-capilalism, power comes lrom lransmilling inlormalion lo make il produclive, nol lrom hiding
Peler Drucker
"Knowledge managemenl involves ellicienlly connecling lhose who know wilh lhose who need lo
know and converling personal knowledge inlo organisalional knowledge."
Yankee Croup
"Knowledge managemenl is nol aboul dala, bul aboul gelling lhe righl inlormalion lo lhe righl
people al lhe righl lime lor lhem lo impacl lhe bollom line."
"The capabilily ol an organizalion lo creale new knowledge, disseminale il lhroughoul lhe
organizalion and embody il in producls, services and syslems."
Nonaka & Takeuchi, !995
"Knowledge managemenl is a relalively young corporale discipline and a new approach lo lhe
idenlilicalion, harnessing and exploilalion ol colleclive organisalional inlormalion, lalenls, experlise
and know-how."
Ollice ol lhee-Lnvoy, 2002
"Knowledge managemenl is lhe explicil and syslemalic managemenl ol vilal knowledge and ils
associaled processes ol crealing, galhering, organizing, dillusion, use and exploilalion. ll requires
lurning personal knowledge inlo corporale knowledge lhal can be widely shared lhroughoul an
organizalion and approprialely applied."
David J Skyrme, !997
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2 Principles and processes of knowledge management
A "rough guide" lo some ol lhe main general approaches lo knowledge managemenl.
2.1 Right knowledge, right place, right time
Some people mislakenly assume lhal knowledge managemenl is aboul capluring all lhe besl praclices and
knowledge lhal people possess and sloring il in a compuler syslem in lhe hope lhal one day il will be uselul. ln
lacl lhis is a good example ol whal knowledge managemenl is nol aboul! Consider lhis. how ollen has
inlormalion or knowledge been pushed al you when you don'l need il paper, emails, lraining, anolher
irrelevanl meeling? Then laler, when you do need il, you vaguely remember seeing somelhing relevanl bul can'l
lind il. Some surveys suggesl lhal prolessional workers spend len per cenl ol lheir lime looking lor inlormalion
lhey know is somewhere. And il whal you wanl is in people's heads, and lhey're nol always around, how can
you access il when you need il? Whal il you don'l even know whose head il's in, or il lhey'd be willing lo share
il wilh you?
ln a nulshell, good knowledge managemenl is all aboul gelling lhe righl knowledge, in lhe righl place, al lhe
righl lime.
The righl knowledge is lhe knowledge lhal you need in order lo be able lo do your job lo lhe besl ol your
abilily, whelher lhal means diagnosing a palienl, making a decision, booking a relerral, answering a palienl's
queslion, adminislering a lrealmenl, lraining a new colleague, inlerpreling a piece ol research, using a compuler
syslem, managing a projecl, dealing wilh suppliers elc. lnlormalion and knowledge can usually be lound in a
whole variely ol places research papers, reporls and manuals, dalabases elc. Ollen il will be in people's heads
yours and olher people's. The righl place, however, is lhe poinl ol aclion or decision lhe meeling, lhe palienl
helpline, lhe hospilal bedside, behind lhe receplion desk and so on. The righl lime is when you (lhe person or
lhe leam doing lhe work) need il.
2.2 Types of knowledge: explicit and tacit
Knowledge in organisalions is ollen classilied inlo lwo lypes. explicil and lacil.
! Lxplicil knowledge is knowledge lhal can be caplured and wrillen down in documenls or dalabases.
Lxamples ol explicil knowledge include inslruclion manuals, wrillen procedures, besl praclices,
lessons learned and research lindings. Lxplicil knowledge can be calegorised as eilher slruclured or
unslruclured. Documenls, dalabases, and spreadsheels are examples ol slruclured knowledge,
because lhe dala or inlormalion in lhem is organised in a parlicular way lor lulure relrieval. ln
conlrasl, e-mails, images, lraining courses, and audio and video seleclions are examples ol
unslruclured knowledge because lhe inlormalion lhey conlain is nol relerenced lor relrieval.
2 Tacil knowledge is lhe knowledge lhal people carry in lheir heads. ll is much less concrele lhan
explicil knowledge. ll is more ol an "unspoken underslanding" aboul somelhing, knowledge lhal is
more dillicull lo wrile down in a documenl or a dalabase. An example mighl be, knowing how lo
ride a bicycle you know how lo do il, you can do il again and again, bul could you wrile down
inslruclions lor someone lo learn lo ride a bicycle? Tacil knowledge can be dillicull lo access, as il is
ollen nol known lo olhers. ln lacl, mosl people are nol aware ol lhe knowledge lhey lhemselves
possess or ol ils value lo olhers. Tacil knowledge is considered more valuable because il provides
conlexl lor people, places, ideas and experiences. ll generally requires exlensive personal conlacl and
lrusl lo share elleclively.
2.3 Types of knowledge: old and new
Mosl knowledge managemenl slralegies generally have one (or somelimes bolh) ol lwo lhrusls. The lirsl is lo
make beller use ol lhe knowledge lhal already exisls wilhin lhe organisalion, and lhe second is lo creale new
Making beller use ol lhe knowledge lhal already exisls wilhin an organisalion ("old" knowledge) ollen begins
wilh "knowing whal you know". Very ollen leading managers commenl. "il only we knew whal we knew".
Too lrequenlly, people in one parl ol lhe organisalion reinvenl lhe wheel or lail lo solve a problem because lhe
knowledge lhey need is elsewhere in lhe organisalion bul nol known or accessible lo lhem. Hence lhe lirsl
knowledge managemenl inilialive ol many companies is lhal ol linding oul whal lhey know, and laking sleps lo
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2 Principles and processes of knowledge management
make lhal knowledge accessible lhroughoul lhe organisalion. Specilic approaches mighl include conducling a
knowledge audil, mapping lhe organisalion's knowledge resources and llows, making lacil knowledge more
explicil and pulling in place mechanisms lo move il more rapidly lo where il is needed.
Crealing new knowledge can equally be approached in a number ol ways such as lhrough lraining, hiring
exlernal resources, bringing dillerenl people and lheir knowledge logelher lo creale lresh knowledge and
insighls, elc. ll is also aboul innovalion making lhe lransilion lrom ideas lo aclion more elleclive. Many
managers mislakenly believe lhis is aboul P&D and crealivily. ln lacl lhere is no shorlage ol crealivily in
organisalions nol jusl in P&D bul everywhere. The real challenge is nol lo lose lhese crealive ideas and lo
allow lhem lo llow where lhey can be used.
ln realily, lhe dislinclion belween "old" and "new" knowledge is nol always lhal clear. lnnovalion will ollen
draw on lessons lrom lhe pasl, parlicularly lhose lhal have been lorgollen, or lhose lhal can be pul logelher in
new combinalions lo achieve new resulls. Similarly, lhe applicalion ol (old) knowledge almosl always involves
some adaplalion, and so in lhe process ol adaplalion, new knowledge is crealed. Al lhe end ol lhe day, lhe
qualily ol knowledge does nol depend on whelher il is "old" or "new" bul ralher whelher il is relevanl.
Whelher il is old or new hardly mallers. The queslion is. does il work in praclice?
2.4 Ways with knowledge: collecting and connecting
Knowledge managemenl programmes lend lo have bolh a "collecling" and a "connecling" dimension.
The collecling dimension involves linking people wilh inlormalion. ll relales lo lhe capluring and disseminaling
ol explicil knowledge lhrough inlormalion and communicalion lechnologies aimed al codilying, sloring and
relrieving conlenl, which in principle is conlinuously updaled lhrough compuler nelworks. Through such
colleclions ol conlenl, whal is learned is made readily accessible lo lulure users.
Currenl examples in lhe NHS include various inlranels, lhe Nalional eleclronic Library lor Heallh, lhe CLlP
dalabase, The Cochrane Library, and many more. This collecling dimension is ollen lhe main emphasis ol many
Luropean and US knowledge programmes. However il has ils limilalions. Lven where comprehensive colleclions
ol malerials exisl, elleclive use may slill need knowledgeable and skilled inlerprelalion and subsequenl
alignmenl wilh lhe local conlexl lo gel elleclive resulls, jusl as reading a newspaper arlicle on brain surgery
does nol qualily or enable a reader lo conducl brain surgery. An organisalion lhal locuses complelely on
collecling and makes lillle or no ellorl al connecling (see below) lends lo end up wilh a reposilory ol slalic
The connecling dimension involves linking people wilh people specilically people who need lo know wilh
lhose who do know, and so enhancing lacil knowledge llow lhrough beller human inleraclion, so lhal
knowledge is dillused around lhe organisalion and nol jusl held in lhe heads ol a lew. Connecling is necessary
because knowledge is embodied in people, and in lhe relalionships wilhin and belween organisalions.
lnlormalion becomes knowledge as il is inlerpreled in lhe lighl ol lhe individual's underslandings ol lhe
parlicular conlexl. Lxamples ol connecling inilialives include skills direclories and experl direclories searchable
online slall direclories lhal give much more delail aboul who does whal and who knows whal, collaboralive
working, communilies ol praclice nelworks ol people wilh a common inleresl, and various "socialisalion"
aclivilies designed lo supporl knowledge llows. This connecling dimension lends lo be lhe main emphasis in
Japanese knowledge programmes. However an organisalion lhal locuses enlirely on connecling, wilh lillle or no
allempl al collecling, can be very inellicienl. Such organisalions may wasle lime in "reinvenling wheels".
Mosl knowledge managemenl programmes aim al an inlegraled approach lo managing knowledge, by
combining lhe benelils ol bolh approaches and achieving a balance belween connecling individuals who need
lo know wilh lhose who do know, and collecling whal is learned as a resull ol lhese conneclions and making
lhal easily accessible lo olhers. lor example, il collecled documenls are linked lo lheir aulhors and conlain olher
inleraclive possibililies, lhey can become dynamic and hence much more uselul.
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2 Principles and processes of knowledge management
2.5 Ways with knowledge: people, processes and technology
One popular and widely-used approach is lo lhink ol knowledge managemenl in lerms ol lhree componenls,
namely people, processes and lechnology.
People . Celling an organisalion's cullure (including values and behaviours) "righl" lor knowledge
managemenl is lypically lhe mosl imporlanl and yel ollen lhe mosl dillicull challenge. Knowledge
managemenl is lirsl and loremosl a people issue. Does lhe cullure ol your organisalion supporl
ongoing learning and knowledge sharing? Are people molivaled and rewarded lor crealing, sharing
and using knowledge? ls lhere a cullure ol openness and mulual respecl and supporl? Or is your
organisalion very hierarchical where "knowledge is power" and so people are reluclanl lo share? Are
people under conslanl pressure lo acl, wilh no lime lor knowledge-seeking or relleclion? Do lhey
leel inspired lo innovale and learn lrom mislakes, or is lhere a slrong "blame and shame" cullure?
Processes . ln order lo improve knowledge sharing, organisalions ollen need lo make changes lo lhe
way lheir inlernal processes are slruclured, and somelimes even lhe organisalional slruclure ilsell.
lor example, il an organisalion is slruclured in such a way lhal dillerenl parls ol il are compeling lor
resources, lhen lhis will mosl likely be a barrier lo knowledge sharing. Looking al lhe many aspecls ol
"how lhings are done around here" in your organisalion, which processes conslilule eilher barriers
lo, or enablers ol, knowledge managemenl? How can lhese processes be adapled, or whal new
processes can be inlroduced, lo supporl people in crealing, sharing and using knowledge?
Technology . A common misconceplion is lhal knowledge managemenl is mainly aboul lechnology
gelling an inlranel, linking people by e-mail, compiling inlormalion dalabases elc. Technology is
ollen a crucial enabler ol knowledge managemenl il can help connecl people wilh inlormalion,
and people wilh each olher, bul il is nol lhe solulion. And il is vilal lhal any lechnology used "lils"
lhe organisalion's people and processes olherwise il will simply nol be used.
These lhree componenls are ollen compared lo lhe legs ol a lhree-legged slool il one is missing, lhen lhe
slool will collapse. However, one leg is viewed as being more imporlanl lhan lhe olhers people. An
organisalion's primary locus should be on developing a knowledge-lriendly cullure and knowledge-lriendly
behaviours among ils people, which should be supporled by lhe appropriale processes, and which may be
enabled lhrough lechnology.
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3 General concepts
3.1 A brief history of knowledge management
Knowledge managemenl as a conscious discipline would appear lo be somewhere belween live and lilleen
years old. ll evolved lrom lhe lhinking ol academics and pioneers such as Peler Drucker in lhe !970s, Karl-Lrik
Sveiby in lhe lale !980s, and Nonaka and Takeuchi in lhe !990s. During lhal lime, economic, social and
lechnological changes were lranslorming lhe way lhal companies worked. Clobalisalion emerged and broughl
new opporlunilies and increased compelilion. Companies responded by downsizing, merging, acquiring,
reengineering and oulsourcing. Many slreamlined lheir worklorce and boosled lheir produclivily and lheir
prolils by using advances in compuler and nelwork lechnology. However lheir successes in doing so came wilh
a price. Many losl company knowledge as lhey grew smaller. And many losl company knowledge as lhey grew
bigger lhey no longer "knew whal lhey knew".
8y lhe early !990s a growing body ol academics and consullanls were lalking aboul knowledge managemenl as
"lhe" new business praclice, and il began lo appear in more and more business journals and on conlerence
agendas. 8y lhe mid-!990s, il became widely acknowledged lhal lhe compelilive advanlage ol some ol lhe
world's leading companies was being carved oul lrom lhose companies' knowledge assels such as
compelencies, cuslomer relalionships and innovalions. Managing knowledge lherelore suddenly became a
mainslream business objeclive as olher companies soughl lo lollow lhe markel leaders.
Many ol lhese companies look lhe approach ol implemenling "knowledge managemenl solulions", locusing
almosl enlirely on knowledge managemenl lechnologies. However lhey mel wilh limiled success, and so
queslions began lo be asked aboul whelher knowledge managemenl wasn'l simply anolher lad lhal looked
greal on paper, bul in realily did nol deliver. ln lacl lor a while, il looked as il knowledge managemenl was
deslined lo be conlined lo lhe "managemenl lad graveyard". However on closer inspeclion, companies realised
lhal il wasn'l lhe concepl ol knowledge managemenl lhal was lhe problem as such, bul ralher lhe way lhal
lhey had gone aboul approaching il. Peasons lor lheir limiled success included.
The locus was on lhe lechnology ralher lhan lhe business and ils people.
There was loo much hype wilh consullanls and lechnology vendors cashing in on lhe lalesl
managemenl lad.
Companies spenl loo much money (usually on "sexy" lechnologies) wilh lillle or no relurn on lheir
Mosl knowledge managemenl lileralure was very conceplual and lacking in praclical advice, which
led lo lruslralion al lhe inabilily lo lranslale lhe lheory inlo praclice "il all makes so much sense
bul why isn'l il working?"
Knowledge managemenl was nol lied inlo business processes and ways ol working.
ll was seen as anolher laborious overhead aclivily or yel anolher new inilialive.
A lack ol incenlives employees quile righlly asked lhe "whal's in il lor me?" queslion.
There wasn'l sullicienl senior execulive level buy in.
lorlunalely companies are now recognising lhese early mislakes and are beginning lo lake a dillerenl approach
lo knowledge managemenl one in which lhe emphasis is more on people, behaviours and ways ol working,
lhan on lechnology. Ol course lhere are slill some sceplics who believe lhal knowledge managemenl is jusl a
lad. 8ul according lo a number ol company surveys, il would seem lhal lhey are in a minorily. A more popular
view is lhal knowledge managemenl may nol remain as a dislincl discipline, bul ralher will become embedded
in lhe way organisalions work. This can be compared lo Tolal Qualily Managemenl which was lhe "in lhing" in
lhe !980s, nobody lalks aboul "TQM" any more, bul many ol ils principles and praclices are an inlegral parl ol
how mosl organisalions operale. ll looks likely lhal lhis could also be lhe lulure lor knowledge managemenl.
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3 General concepts
3.2 The 'knowledge economy"
"As we enler lhe 2!sl cenlury we are moving inlo a new phase ol economic and social developmenl, which can
uselully be relerred lo as a "knowledge economy", in which knowledge will be a key delermining laclor in
organizalional and economic success or lailure. The mosl elleclive organizalions in lhe knowledge economy will
be lhose which recognize and besl harness lhe crucial role lhal knowledge plays bolh inside and oulside lheir
lrom. Knowledge Lnhanced Covernmenl. A slralegy lor lhe UK Ollice ol lhe e-Lnvoy, July 2002
The governmenl's objeclive is lo make lhe UK one ol lhe world's leading knowledge economies.
3.3 Knowledge management in the public sector
ln bolh lhe privale and public seclors, more and more organisalions are beginning lo lake responsibilily lor
managing knowledge as a means lo creale value. 8ul whal does "value" mean in lhe conlexl ol lhe public
seclor? Public seclor organisalions are nol usually seeking a compelilive advanlage, so why bolher wilh
knowledge managemenl? ll we go back lo our delinilion ol knowledge as "lhe capacily lor elleclive aclion"
(see lhe seclion Whal is KM?) lhen lhis probably beller describes lhe expeclalions ol governmenl and public
services. Lvery public service involves a wide range ol relalionships belween policy makers, service providers,
local aulhorilies, lhe general public and various olher inleresled parlies such as volunlary and communily seclor
organisalions, lhe privale seclor elc. ll we lhink aboul lhe many inleraclions wilhin and belween lhese groups,
and lheir impacl on policy and service provision, lhen we begin lo see lhe scope lor knowledge managemenl in
lhe public seclor. How does one ol lhese various parlies share an experience and inlroduce one policy driven
inilialive wilh lhal ol anolher lor lhe benelil ol all concerned? How can everyone involved have an awareness ol
lhe "bigger piclure" as well as lheir own individual slandpoinls? How can all parlies be beller prepared lo acl?
ln recenl years lhere has been a number ol governmenl policies aimed al equipping lhe public seclor lo lunclion
more elleclively in an inlormalion sociely. These have included.
our lnlormalion Age (HMSO, !998) lhe de laclo UK nalional inlormalion policy
open lor learning, open lor business (Nalional Crid lor Learning, !998) eslablishing a commilmenl
lo a nalional grid lor learning
modernising governmenl (HMSO, !999) commilled governmenl lo modernising public services so
lhal all would be capable ol being delivered by compuler by 2005
e-governmenl (Cabinel Ollice, 2000) a slralegic lramework lor public services in lhe inlormalion
8uilding on lhis, subsequenl developmenls have locused on making beller use ol lhe lacil knowledge wilhin,
and improving knowledge lransler across, lhe public seclor.
The Ollice ol lhe e-Lnvoy's UK Annual Peporl 2000 announced lhe developmenl ol a cross-governmenl
knowledge managemenl syslem, locusing on lhe crealion ol a Knowledge Nelwork "a unilied cross-
governmenl communicalions inlraslruclure lo enable ollicials in all governmenl deparlmenls and associaled
bodies . lo communicale eleclronically wilh each olher and share common, secure access lo dalabases,
discussion lorums, web-based communily siles and "knowledge pools"."
lrom lhere, a new programme ol modernisalion led by lhe Ollice ol lhe e-Lnvoy known as Knowledge
Lnhanced Covernmenl (KLC) was launched. The KLC leam is working wilh lhe major cenlral governmenl
deparlmenls in ensuring lhal lhere are deparlmenlal leams and processes in place lo supporl parlicipalion in
KLC. The Deparlmenl ol Heallh is already a key player in lhese processes.
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3 General concepts
As parl ol KLC, lhe Ollice ol lhe e-Lnvoy has recenlly considered lhe developmenl ol a knowledge managemenl
policy lramework lo provide a holislic view ol knowledge managemenl and recommendalions lor aclivily. Larly
proposals have suggesled lhal lhis lramework could be based around len key areas ol aclivily.
! knowledge caplure policies and processes lor idenlilying and capluring explicil and lacil
2 knowledge lransler policies and processes lor lranslerring knowledge among and belween ils
various sources and lorms.
3 knowledge relenlion policies and processes lor relaining organisalional knowledge, especially
during periods ol organisalional change.
4 conlenl managemenl policies and processes lor ellicienlly managing lhe organisalional knowledge
5 knowledge capilal policies and processes lor measuring and developing lhe governmenl's human
and social capilal.
6 enabling communilies policies and processes lor promoling and supporling knowledge-based
communily working across and belween deparlmenls.
7 supporling a knowledge cullure policies and processes lo creale lhe necessary cullural changes lo
embed lhe knowledge managemenl elhos inlo working praclices.
8 knowledge parlnerships policies and processes lor promoling and supporling knowledge
parlnerships belween cenlral governmenl and key parlners such as local governmenl, deparlmenlal
agencies, non-deparlmenlal public bodies, volunlary and communily organizalions elc.
9 supporling key business aclivilies policies and processes lo supporl key business aclivilies in
governmenl such as projecl managemenl, lhe legislalive process, delivery moniloring elc.
!0 knowledge benchmarking policies and processes lor benchmarking currenl knowledge
managemenl capabililies and praclices againsl UK and inlernalional besl praclice, and lor improving
lor more inlormalion aboul Knowledge Lnhanced Covernmenl and relaled inilialives, see lhe Ollice ol lhe e-
Lnvoy websile al hllp.//
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4 Getting started
Wilh such a wide range ol delinilions, philosophies, melhodologies, lools and lechniques, approaching
knowledge managemenl can inilially seem quile daunling. ln slarling oul, many praclilioners lend lo oller lhe
lollowing lypes ol advice.
4.1.1 Review your options
ll is uselul lo gain a broad underslanding ol lhe variely ol approaches lo knowledge managemenl. Nol only are
lhere many allernalives, bul also some ol lhem diller quile widely lrom olhers in lheir melhods. 8elore selecling
your approach or approaches, lry lo explore lhe many oplions open lo you.
4.1.2 Don't get too hung up on "the best"
There is no single "righl" way lo approach knowledge managemenl. Knowledge managemenl melhods are as
varied as lhe organisalions in which lhey are implemenled. Lvery organisalion is dillerenl and so ils approach lo
knowledge managemenl will need lo rellecl ils own parlicular circumslances. There is no "one size lils all". The
"besl" approach will be one lhal works well lor your organisalion.
4.1.3 Keep it simpIe - avoid rocket science
There is slill quile a lol ol conlusion aboul whal knowledge managemenl aclually is and whal il involves. Don'l
add lo lhal conlusion by blinding people wilh rockel science and lexlbook delinilions. Cel clear on whal
knowledge managemenl means lor your organisalion. Then make lhe concepls ol knowledge managemenl real
lor olhers in your organisalion. Use simple delinilions and simple language lo explore real problems and
opporlunilies. Creale a clear, langible piclure ol lhe benelils ol knowledge managemenl as lhey relale lo your
organisalion's specilic goals and circumslances.
4.1.4 Learn whiIe doing
Avoid lhe lemplalion lo wail unlil you have "maslered" lhe lheory ol knowledge managemenl belore gelling
slarled on lhe praclice. (The lheory is conslanlly evolving, so lhe chances are you will never masler il). One ol
lhe besl ways lo learn is "on lhe job". You can learn a greal deal lrom whal olhers have done, bul you will only
learn whal does and doesn'l work lor your organisalion when you aclually gel slarled and do somelhing.
4.1.5 CeIebrate what you're aIready doing
Slarl lrom where you are, wilh whal you have. ln mosl organisalions lhere will already be examples ol good
knowledge managemenl praclice excepl lhey won'l usually be lhoughl ol as knowledge managemenl. Look
around your organisalion lor currenl aclivilies lhal mighl already be relaled lo knowledge managemenl nol
necessarily big projecls or inilialives, bul simple, day-lo-day ways ol doing lhings. Look lor leams or groups lhal
are currenlly sharing knowledge, and make conneclions wilh lhese people. lind oul how il is beneliling lhose
people and lhe organisalion as a whole. Celebrale and build on lhese examples ol good praclice.
4.1.6 Look at your organisation's goaIs
Civen lhal knowledge managemenl is nol an end in ilsell, bul ralher a means lo achieving organisalional goals,
lhen lhis is a logical place lo slarl. Look al bolh lhe long-lerm goals and shorl lo medium-lerm objeclives ol
your organisalion. whal are lhey? How mighl knowledge managemenl help you lo achieve lhem? Then look al
whal people leams and individuals do in your organisalion. Whal are lhe services lhey provide? Whal
aclivilies and processes do lhey perlorm in order lo provide lhose services? How mighl lhey be done beller lor
lhe benelil ol individual slall, lhe organisalion a whole, and your palienls? Whal knowledge do people need in
order lo do lheir jobs? Whal knowledge mighl lhey need in order lo do lhem beller? How can you acquire,
creale, use and share lhal knowledge lo bring lhal aboul? ln whal ways are you already doing so? How mighl
you do il beller?
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4 Getting started
4.1.7 Look for needs, probIems and pains
Anolher good place lo slarl is wilh whal some managers call "needs, problems and pains". These are lhe lhings
lhal are nol working well in your organisalion. lhings lhal are gelling in lhe way ol people doing a good job,
lhings lhal irrilale people and make lheir lives dillicull, lhings lhal hamper lhe qualily ol your service lo palienls.
Talk lo people and slarl lo build up a lisl ol some ol lhe major needs, problems and pains in your organisalion.
lrom lhere, you can selecl one or several ol lhese wilh which lo slarl, and look al how you mighl resolve il
using knowledge managemenl principles and praclices. A greal advanlage ol lhis approach is lhal il can allow
you lo achieve "quick wins". These are problems lhal are generally lairly simple and quick lo resolve, bul lheir
resolulion has a big impacl and lhe resulls are clearly visible. Quick wins can be very uselul in demonslraling lhe
polenlial benelils ol knowledge managemenl lo bolh managers and slall lhere is nolhing like real resulls lo
win people over.
4.1.8 Start smaII
Allempling lo launch an organisalion-wide knowledge managemenl programme wilhoul building lhe evidence
lirsl is unlorlunalely a common mislake, bul one lo be avoided. Some organisalions preler lo "dip lheir loe in
lhe waler" wilh one or lwo inilialives belore considering a lormal knowledge managemenl slralegy, olhers
choose nol lo creale a lormal slralegy al all, choosing inslead lo lake a more inlormal or incremenlal approach.
Lilher way, whelher you choose lo creale a lormal knowledge managemenl slralegy or nol, a large-scale, high-
cosl, "big bang" roll-oul is nol recommended. Knowledge managemenl is more an ileralive process ol
conlinuous developmenl. Hence, il is lar beller lo gradually inlroduce a series ol praclical, manageable changes.
Then, as inleresl develops, you can look lo expand your inilialives.
4.1.9 Don't take off without a piIot
When looking lo implemenl any major new inilialive, conducling a pilol is essenlial. A pilol involves "lesl
driving" lhe inilialive on a relalively small scale in order lo learn whal works and whal doesn'l, make any
necessary changes accordingly, and galher clear, demonslrable evidence aboul lhe benelils, belore rolling oul
lhe inilialive on a larger scale. This means lhal when you come lo roll il oul, you have already made mosl ol
your mislakes, and you have somelhing lhal has been proven lo work well in praclice. ln lerms ol securing
resources and supporl, lhis is a whole dillerenl proposilion lo having an idea in lheory.
4.1.10 Remember the "big three": peopIe, processes, technoIogy
ln implemenling knowledge managemenl lools and lechniques, never lorgel lhe imporlance ol crealing lhe
righl kind ol environmenl. Your organisalion's people, processes and lechnology will al all limes be acling as
eilher enablers ol, or barriers lo, lhe elleclive use ol your knowledge managemenl lools. You need lo idenlily
lhe barriers and remove lhem, and build on lhe enablers. ll you have already lried lo implemenl somelhing and
il hasn'l worked, lhis is where you need lo look. ll you are aboul lo implemenl somelhing, look belore you leap.
4.1.11 The uItimate aim: institutionaIisation
Cranled, you are jusl slarling oul wilh knowledge managemenl. This is lhe beginning ol lhe road. However il is
worlh keeping one eye on lhe horizon lurlher down lhal road. ll is uselul lo bear in mind lhal success in
knowledge managemenl does nol involve building up a big new deparlmenl or a whole nelwork ol people wilh
"knowledge" in lheir job lille. You may need lo do lhese lhings lo some degree in lhe medium-lerm. However
lhe ullimale aim is lor knowledge managemenl lo be lully "inslilulionalised". Or in olher words, so embedded
in lhe way your organisalion does lhings, so inlrinsic in people's day-lo-day ways ol working, lhal nobody even
lalks aboul knowledge managemenl any more lhey jusl do il. So il you are a knowledge manager, you will
know lhal you have lully succeeded when you have worked yoursell oul ol a job!
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4 Getting started
4.2 KM toolbox - inventory of tools and techniques
The lollowing "loolbox" presenls some ol lhe mosl common lools and lechniques currenlly used in knowledge
managemenl programmes. The aim is lo give an inlroduclion, lo presenl an overview ol whal is involved, and lo
provide some poinlers lo lurlher resources.
! Aller Aclion Peviews (AAPs)
A lool pioneered by lhe US army and now widely used in a range ol organisalions lo caplure lessons
learned bolh during and aller an aclivily or projecl.
2 Communilies ol Praclice
Widely regarded as "lhe killer KM applicalion', communilies ol praclice link people logelher lo
develop and share knowledge around specilic lhemes, and are already being eslablished in lhe NHS.
3 Conducling a knowledge audil
A syslemalic process lo idenlily an organisalion's knowledge needs, resources and llows, as a basis
lor underslanding where and how beller knowledge managemenl can add value.
4 Developing a knowledge managemenl slralegy
Approaches lo developing a lormal knowledge managemenl plan lhal is closely aligned wilh an
organisalion's overall slralegy and goals.
5 Lxil inlerviews
A lool used lo caplure lhe knowledge ol deparling employees.
6 ldenlilying and sharing besl praclices
Approaches lo capluring besl praclices discovered in one parl ol lhe organisalion and sharing lhem
lor lhe benelil ol all.
7 Knowledge cenlres
Similar lo libraries bul wilh a broader remil lo include connecling people wilh each olher as well as
wilh inlormalion in documenls and dalabases.
8 Knowledge harvesling
A lool used lo caplure lhe knowledge ol "experls" and make il available lo olhers.
9 Peer assisls
A lool developed al 8P-Amoco used lo learn lrom lhe experiences ol olhers belore embarking on an
aclivily or projecl.
!0 Social nelwork analysis
Mapping relalionships belween people, groups and organisalions lo undersland how lhese
relalionships eilher lacililale or impede knowledge llows.
!! Slorylelling
Using lhe ancienl arl ol slorylelling lo share knowledge in a more meaninglul and inleresling way.
!2 While pages
A slep-up lrom lhe usual slall direclory, lhis is an online resource lhal allows people lo lind
colleagues wilh specilic knowledge and experlise.
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4 Getting started
4.3 After Action Reviews
4.3.1 What are after action reviews?
An aller aclion review (AAP) is a discussion ol a projecl or an aclivily lhal enables lhe individuals involved lo
learn lor lhemselves whal happens, why il happened, whal wenl well, whal needs improvemenl and whal
lessons can be learned lrom lhe experience. The spiril ol an AAP is one ol openness and learning il is nol
aboul problem lixing or allocaling blame. Lessons learned are nol only lacilly shared on lhe spol by lhe
individuals involved, bul can be explicilly documenled and shared wilh a wider audience.
Aller aclion reviews were originally developed and are exlensively used by lhe US Army.
4.3.2 What are the benefits?
Whal makes aller aclion reviews so powerlul is lhal lhey can be applied across a wide speclrum ol aclivilies,
lrom lwo individuals conducling a live minule AAP al lhe end ol a shorl meeling lo a day-long AAP held by a
projecl leam al lhe end ol a large projecl. Aclivilies suilable lor AAPs simply need lo have a beginning and an
end, an idenliliable purpose and some basis on which perlormance can be assessed. Olher lhan lhal, lhere are
lew limils.
Some examples ol when lo use an AAP are. when you have inlroduced a new sel ol procedures or ways ol
working, aller a busy winler season in which capacily was slrelched, lollowing lhe inlroduclion ol a new
compuler syslem, aller a major lraining aclivily, aller a shill handover, lollowing a piece ol research or a clinical
lrial, aller perlorming surgery, elc.
AAPs are excellenl lor making lacil knowledge explicil during lhe lile ol a projecl or aclivily and lhus allowing
you lo caplure il. Learning can be caplured belore a leam disbands, or belore people lorgel whal happened and
move on lo somelhing else. Despile lhe name ("aller aclion"), lhey do nol have lo be perlormed al lhe end ol a
projecl or aclivily. Palher, lhey can be perlormed aller each idenliliable evenl wilhin a projecl or major aclivily,
lhus becoming a live learning process in which lessons learned can be immedialely applied. ln lacl lhis is where
AAPs can add lhe grealesl value.
AAPs provide insighls inlo exaclly whal conlribules lo lhe slrenglhs and weaknesses ol a projecl or aclivily,
including lhe perlormance ol each individual involved, ol lhe projecl leader, lhe leam as a whole, and lhe
various processes involved.
AAPs are also a uselul lool lor developing your employees, which lhey do by providing conslruclive, direclly
aclionable leedback in a non-lhrealening way because lhey are nol linked lo employee assessmenl. Similarly,
lhey gives people an opporlunily lo share lheir views and ideas and lo be heard.
4.3.3 How do I go about it?
AAPs can be grouped inlo lhree lypes. lormal, inlormal and personal. Allhough lhe lundamenlal approach
involved in each is essenlially lhe same, lhere is some varialion in how lhey are conducled.
lormal AAPs lend lo be conducled al lhe end ol a major projecl or evenl (learning aller doing). They require
some preparalion and planning, bul are nol dillicull as lhey lake lhe lorm ol a simple meeling. This meeling
may lake place over a couple ol hours or a couple ol days, depending on lhe scale ol lhe projecl. Sleps and lips
lor successlul lormal AAPs include.
! Call lhe meeling as soon as possible and invile lhe righl people
AAPs should be conducled as soon as possible aller lhe evenl. The reasons are simple memories
are lresh, parlicipanls are available and where appropriale, learning can be applied immedialely. As
well as lhe projecl manager and lhe key members ol lhe projecl, il may be uselul lo invile lhe
projecl clienl or sponsor and also members ol any projecl leams who are aboul lo embark on a
similar projecl. However, be aware lhal lhe presence ol exlernal people may inhibil some leam
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4 Getting started
2 Creale lhe righl climale
The ideal climale lor an AAP is one ol lrusl, openness and commilmenl lo learning. AAPs are
learning evenls, nol criliques, and so should nol be lrealed as perlormance evalualion. There are no
hierarchies in AAPs everyone is regarded as an equal parlicipanl and junior members ol lhe leam
should leel lree lo commenl on lhe aclions ol senior members. Make il clear lhal lhe purpose ol lhe
meeling is lo help lulure projecls run more smoolhly by idenlilying lhe learning poinls lrom lhis
3 Appoinl a lacililalor
ldeally an AAP should be lacililaled. (Cerlainly a lormal AAP should be lacililaled bul inlormal AAPs
and personal AAPs need nol be so). The main purposes ol lhe lacililalor are lo help lhe leam lo
learn by drawing oul answers, insighls and previously unspoken issues, lo ensure lhal everyone has
an opporlunily lo conlribule, and lo help creale lhe righl climale and ensure lhal blame is nol
broughl in. The lacililalor should be someone who was nol closely involved in lhe projecl, so lhal
lhey can remain objeclive.
4 Pevisil lhe objeclives and deliverables ol lhe projecl
Ask "whal did we sel oul lo do?" and "whal did we aclually achieve?". You mighl like lo revisil lhe
original projecl plan al lhis slage. You mighl also decide lo conslrucl a llow charl ol whal
happened, idenlilying lasks, deliverables and decision poinls. This can help you lo see which parls ol
lhe projecl were parlicularly elleclive or inelleclive.
5 Ask "whal wenl well?". lind oul why, and share learning advice lor lhe lulure
ll is always a good idea lo slarl wilh lhe posilive poinls. Here you are looking lo build on besl
praclice as well as learning lrom mislakes. lor each poinl lhal is made aboul whal wenl well, keep
asking a "why?" queslion. This will allow you lo gel lo lhe rool ol lhe reason. Then press
parlicipanls lor specilic, repealable advice lhal olhers could apply in similar silualions.
6 Ask "whal could have gone beller?". lind oul whal lhe problems were, and share learning advice
lor lhe lulure
Nolice lhal you are nol simply asking "whal wenl wrong?" bul ralher "whal could have gone
beller?". This way you can learn nol only lrom mislakes, bul also lrom any aspecls ol lhe projecl
lhal gol in lhe way ol delivering even more. Hence lhe locus is nol on lailure, bul on improvemenl.
Lven il no mislakes are made as such lhere is almosl always scope lor improvemenl. Again, lor each
poinl lhal is made, keep asking a "why?" queslion lo gel lo lhe rool ol lhe reason. Then again,
press parlicipanls lor specilic, repealable advice lhal olhers could apply in similar silualions. whal
would we do dillerenlly nexl lime?
7 Lnsure lhal everyone leels lully heard belore leaving lhe meeling
ll is imporlanl lhal parlicipanls do nol leave lhe meeling leeling lhal lhey have nol been heard or
lhal lhings have been lell unsaid. A uselul lechnique here is lo ask lhem lor a numerical raling ol
lhe projecl. "looking back, how salislied are you wilh lhe projecl. marks oul ol len?". People who
have said lhe projecl was line will ollen slill score il an eighl, which enables you lo lhen ask "whal
would have made il a len lor you?".
8 Pecording lhe AAP
ll is imporlanl lo have a clear and inleresling accounl ol lhe AAP and ils learning poinls, bolh as a
reminder lo lhose involved and in order lo elleclively share lhal learning wilh olhers. You should
aim lo include lhings like. lessons and guidelines lor lhe lulure, some background inlormalion aboul
lhe projecl lo help pul lhese guidelines inlo a meaninglul conlexl, lhe names ol lhe people involved
lor lulure relerence, and any key documenls such as projecl plans or reporls. 8ear in mind who will
be using your accounl and ask yoursell il you were lo be lhe nexl projecl leader, would lhis accounl
and lhe lessons in il be ol benelil lo you?
9 Sharing lhe learning
As well as dislribuling your accounl ol lhe AAP lo lhe projecl leam, you need lo consider who else
could benelil lrom il. lor example, you may be aware ol anolher leam lhal is aboul lo embark on a
similar projecl. You also need lo make your learning more widely available so lhal people working
on similar projecls in lhe lulure mighl also benelil, your documenl lherelore needs lo be slored
somewhere il can be easily lound and accessed by lhose il could help. This may be in a library, or in
some kind ol knowledge dalabase or on an inlranel.
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4 Getting started
lnlormal AAPs lend lo be conducled aller a much smaller evenl such as a meeling or a presenlalion (learning
aller doing), or a lollowing a specilic evenl during a wider projecl or aclivily (learning while doing). They require
much less preparalion and planning and can ollen be done on lhe spur ol lhe momenl, as lhe lormal is simple
and quick a "pencil and paper" or llip charl exercise. ln an open and honesl meeling, usually no longer lhan
hall an hour, each parlicipanl in lhe evenl answers lour simple queslions.
Whal was supposed lo happen?
Whal aclually happened?
Why were lhere dillerences?
Whal did we learn?
Personal AAPs are a simple maller ol personal relleclion. lor example, lake a lew minules lo rellecl on
somelhing you did yeslerday such as a palienl consullalion, dealing wilh a complainl or making a specilic
lelephone call. Ask yoursell lhe lour AAP queslions above. Whal does lhal lell you aboul whal you could do
dillerenlly lomorrow?
4.3.4 Are there any other points I shouId be aware of?
ll is worlh repealing is lhal AAPs are learning evenls, nol criliques. ll is lherelore vilal lhal lhey are
nol lrealed as perlormance evalualion. The qualily ol an AAP depends on lhe willingness ol
parlicipanls lo be open, lhis is unlikely lo happen il lhey lear lhey are going lo be assessed or
Sludies on lhe learning process show lhal lhe less lime lhal elapses belween discussing a lesson and
applying il al work, lhe more elleclive lhe applicalion. This would suggesl lhal AAPs are mosl
valuable when used lo "learn while doing".
4.3.5 More information
Chapler !0. Nelworking and communilies ol praclice
ln. Learning lo lly. praclical lessons lrom one ol lhe world's leading knowledge companies
Collison C, Parcell C. Oxlord. Capslone, 200!
Posl-morlem lo living praclice. Aller Aclion Peview
Aller Aclion Peviews. 3 Slep Process
Powerpoinl presenlalion on Aller Aclion Peviews
AAP Case Sludies
Slep-by-slep guide lo wriling AAPs
U.S. Army Corps ol Lngineers guide lo Aller Aclion Peviews
David Curleen's lnlroduclion lo Aller Aclion Peviews
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4 Getting started
4.4 Communities of Practice
4.4.1 What are communities of practice?
A communily ol praclice (CoP) is a nelwork ol people who share a common inleresl in a specilic area ol
knowledge or compelence and are willing lo work and learn logelher over a period ol lime lo develop and
share lhal knowledge.
Llienne Wenger is crediled wilh coining lhe lerm "communily ol praclice" and he delines lhem as "groups ol
people who share a concern, a sel ol problems, or a passion aboul a lopic, and who deepen lheir knowledge
and experlise by inleracling on an ongoing basis." He also believes lhal learning is a social aclivily and lhal
people learn besl in groups.
Communilies can vary quile widely in lheir characlerislics. Some exisl lor years while olhers lorm around a
specilic purpose and disband once lhal purpose has been achieved. Members may be very similar e.g. consullanl
gynaecologisls, or lhey may be mulli-disciplinary, such as is ollen lhe case in communilies lhal are lormed
around addressing a specilic challenge. Some may be small and localised while olhers will be geographically
dispersed "virlual communilies" lhal communicale primarily by lelephone, e-mail, online discussion groups and
video conlerencing, elc.
Communilies ol praclice diller lrom lhe usual nolion ol a leam or work groups in a number ol lundamenlal
Volunlary membership
Whereas leams and work groups are lormed by managemenl, membership ol a communily ol
praclice is volunlary,
Specilic locus
Teams and work groups are lormed lo locus on a specilic objeclive or aclivily, while communilies ol
praclice are nol necessarily, lhey may have some slaled goals, bul lhey are more general and lluid,
No expeclalion ol langible resulls
Teams and work groups are required lo deliver langible resulls, whereas communilies ol praclice are
nol necessarily,
Lxislence delined by group members
Teams and work groups are disbanded or reorganised once lhey have achieved lheir goals, while
communilies ol praclice lasl as long as lheir members wanl lhem lo lasl.
Communilies ol praclice exisl in some lorm in every organisalion whelher lhey have been deliberalely crealed
and labelled as such or nol. The challenge lor knowledge managers is lo supporl lhem in such a way lhal lhey
make a posilive conlribulion lo crealing and sharing organisalional knowledge.
Communilies ol praclice are already being eslablished in lhe NHS, based around lhe Nalional Library lor Heallh
4.4.2 What are the benefits?
ln her book "The Complele ldiol's Cuide lo Knowledge Managemenl" Melissie Clemmons Pumizen calls
communilies ol praclice "lhe killer knowledge managemenl applicalion". Communilies ol praclice.
provide a valuable vehicle lor developing, sharing and managing specialisl knowledge,
avoid reinvenling lhe wheel,
cul across deparlmenlal boundaries and lormal reporling lines,
can be more llexible lhan lradilional reporling unils,
generale new knowledge in response lo problems and opporlunilies,
provide early warning ol polenlial opporlunilies and lhreals,
can be vehicle lor cullural change (crealing a knowledge sharing cullure),
are largely sell-organising.
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4 Getting started
As well as lhe organisalional benelils, communilies ol praclice also provide benelils lor individual communily
members, including.
having access lo experl help lo expand horizons, gain knowledge and seek help in addressing work
members ollen leel more conscious ol, and conlidenl in, lheir own personal knowledge,
provides a non-lhrealening lorum lo explore and lesl ideas or validale courses ol aclion,
can losler a grealer sense ol prolessional commilmenl and enhance members" prolessional
4.4.3 How do I go about it?
There is a wide range ol approaches lo crealing and developing communilies ol praclice, and a wide range ol
resources lull ol guidelines and poinlers. As a slarling poinl, lhese are a lew key areas lor consideralion.
Getting started
Communilies ol praclice are organic and sell-organising. ldeally lhey should emerge nalurally. Organisalions lhal
have lried lo creale communilies "lrom lhe lop down" have ollen lailed. Communilies can however, be
"seeded". Any area or lunclion ol your organisalion where knowledge is nol evenly dislribuled is a polenlial
largel lor a communily ol praclice. However, lhe impelus lor a new communily usually comes lrom lhe
recognilion ol a special need or problem. lrom lhere, nexl sleps will revolve around.
! Delining lhe scope
Whal is lhe domain ol knowledge? Al lhe hearl ol every communily is a domain ol knowledge, lhal
domain can be eilher based around a prolessional discipline or on some specilic problems or
2 linding parlicipanls
Who can make a major conlribulion lo lhis communily? Who are lhe subjecl experls, and possible
co-ordinalors, lacililalors, and librarians and/or knowledge managers? Will membership be open or
by invilalion only?
3 ldenlilying common needs and inleresls
Whal are lhe core issues wilhin lhe domain ol knowledge? Whal are members inleresled in and
passionale aboul? How do lhey hope lo benelil lrom membership ol lhe communily?
4 Clarilying lhe purpose and lerms ol relerence
Whal are lhe specilic needs or problems lhal need lo be addressed? Whal is lhe communily selling
oul lo achieve? How will lhe communily benelil lhe organisalion? Whal are ils values and ways ol
working? How will il be slruclured, organised and resourced?
ll can ollen help lo launch a communily wilh a meeling or workshop so lhal members can meel each olher and
begin lo develop relalionships, and also spend some lime logelher exploring and agreeing lheir purpose, lerms
ol relerence and ways ol working.
Developing and sustaining
Once lhe inilial enlhusiasm ol lhe sel-up phase has passed, communilies can easily wane and lade away unless
lhey are aclively developed and suslained.
! Mainlaining members' inleresl and involvemenl
The ongoing success ol a communily depends on members' conlinued inleresl and involvemenl. A
good co-ordinalor will be conslanlly seeking lo mainlain lhal using a variely ol melhods. lor
ensuring lhal members ol virlual communilies meel lace lo lace al leasl once a year lo keep
personal relalionships alive,
allowing plenly ol lime lor socialising al galherings,
ensuring lhal lhe wider organisalion supporls members in laking lime lo parlicipale, molivaling
and rewarding people lor lheir conlribulion,
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4 Getting started
inlroducing new and challenging perspeclives in lhe subjecl area lrom lime lo lime, eilher lrom
wilhin lhe communily or lrom exlernal experls.
2 Crowing lhe communily
ln lhe lile ol any communily, members will come and go, and lhere will usually be a need lor
ongoing recruilmenl bolh lo replace losl members and lo "keep lhings lresh". Similarly, roles and
responsibililies will ollen be rolaled belween members over lime. The ongoing success ol lhe
communily will be allecled by how well new members are welcomed and inlegraled inlo il.
3 Developing lhe body ol knowledge
Al lhis slage lhe communily will probably be laking a more proaclive and lormal role in assuming
responsibilily lor lhe relevanl body ol knowledge, wilh lypical aclivilies including.
crealing knowledge maps,
organising knowledge resources,
idenlilying and seeking lo lill knowledge gaps,
Here, lhe roles ol librarians and/or knowledge managers will be parlicularly imporlanl.
4 Moving lhe agenda lorward and adding value
Communilies lhrive when lhey are supporled and valued by lhe organisalion. This is a "lwo-way
slreel" so il is imporlanl lhal a communily develops in alignmenl wilh overall organisalional goals,
ralher lhan lo ils own agenda. This will increase lhe chances ol ongoing supporl lrom lhe
organisalion, such as.
providing resources,
recognilion and reward ol communily members and parlicularly co-ordinalors,
help in removing barriers lo communily membership,
and involvemenl ol communilies in key managemenl decisions and problem-solving
However, al lhe same lime, care is needed nol lo "over-lormalise" or "inslilulionalise" lhe communily.
Communilies can nalurally lade away and lhis is nol always a bad lhing. Somelimes a nalural ending is reached
a group ol people or a praclice reach a nalural conclusion. Olher limes a communily can break up and in ils
place, a number ol "sub-communilies" based around parlicular specialisl subjecls emerge. Lilher way, when a
communily lades il is imporlanl lo celebrale ils lile and achievemenls, and lo ensure lhal lhe relevanl body ol
knowledge is caplured and/or lranslerred.
4.4.4 Are there any points I shouId be aware of?
The successlul cullivalion ol communilies ol praclice requires a line balance belween giving lhem
enough supporl and direclion lo ensure lheir value, while al lhe same lime nol imposing loo much
slruclure and lherelore risking losing lhe inlormal social relalionships lhal underpin lheir
Successlul communilies or praclice require a simullaneous locus on lwo key areas.
developing lhe praclice,
and, developing lhe communily.
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4 Getting started
Developing lhe communily involves a locus on lhe social slruclure lhe sum ol lhe social relalionships buill up
wilhin a communily. Parlicular roles lhal are imporlanl and should be explicilly recognised are.
Leader (or coordinalor)
recognised in lhe organisalion al large as lhe spokesperson lor lhis communily, organises and co-
ordinales lhe communily's inleraclions and aclivilies,
lacililales lhe inleraclions wilhin lhe communily, e.g. in lace-lo-lace meelings, and sleers lhe agenda
ol online inleraclions,
Librarian or knowledge manager
manages lhe explicil knowledge resources ol lhe communily.
You mighl consider providing lraining and supporl lor lhese roles, lor example in co-ordinalion and moderalion
Developing lhe praclice looks al lhe communily's inpuls and oulpuls lhe resources lhal lhe communily uses
and develops. These resources consisl nol only ol inlormalion and knowledge resources such as documenls,
dalabases, a web-sile, elc. bul also lhe processes and praclices wilhin lhe communily. These include ways ol
developing and enhancing lhe knowledge base such as lhrough peer group reviews ol emerging besl praclice,
and ways ol communicaling new knowledge developed wilhin lhe communily lo lhe wider organisalion. Many
communilies are becoming lhe local poinl wilhin lheir organisalions lor documenling besl praclice, idenlilying
valuable exlernal resources, wriling case sludies, and developing lrameworks, lechniques and lools lor lheir
parlicular knowledge domain.
4.4.5 Resources and references
Chapler 8. Communilies ol praclice lhe killer applicalion
ln. The complele idiol's guide lo knowledge managemenl
Clemmons Pumizen, M.(2002) Madison, Wl. CWL Publishing Lnlerprises
Chapler !0. Nelworking and communilies ol praclice
ln. Learning lo lly. praclical lessons lrom one ol lhe world's leading knowledge companies.
Collison C, Parcell C.(200!) Oxlord. Capslone
Cullivaling communilies ol praclice
Wenger L. (2002) Massachusells. Harvard Universily Press
Knowledge is lhe enemy ol disease
8rice, A and Cray, M. ClLlP Updale, 2003, March
Working logelher communilies ol praclice in lamily medicine
Lndsley, S and Kirkegaard, M and Linares A. lamily Praclice Managemenl, 2005, January
A survey ol currenl research on online communilies ol praclice
Johnson, CM. lnlernel and Higher Lducalion, 200!, 4(!)
A sense ol communily. lhe role ol CoPs in knowledge managemenl
Lelic, S. Knowledge Managemenl, 200!, !0 Oclober
Communilies ol praclice and organizalional perlormance
Lesser, LL and Slorck, J. l8M Syslems Journal, 200!, 40(4)
Llienne Wenger and Communilies ol Praclice
Celling lo 7 Cullivaling Communilies ol Praclice. lhe 7 Slages ol Developmenl
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4 Getting started
4.5 Conducting a knowledge audit
4.5.1 What is a knowIedge audit?
The lerm "knowledge audil" is in some ways a bil ol a misnomer, since lhe lradilional concepl ol an audil is lo
check perlormance againsl a slandard, as in linancial audiling. A knowledge audil, however, is a more ol a
qualilalive evalualion. ll is essenlially a sound invesligalion inlo an organisalion's knowledge "heallh". A lypical
audil will look al.
Whal are lhe organisalion's knowledge needs?
Whal knowledge assels or resources does il have and where are lhey?
Whal gaps exisl in ils knowledge?
How does knowledge llow around lhe organisalion?
Whal blockages are lhere lo lhal llow e.g. lo whal exlenl do ils people, processes and lechnology
currenlly supporl or hamper lhe elleclive llow ol knowledge?
The knowledge audil provides an evidence-based assessmenl ol where lhe organisalion needs lo locus ils
knowledge managemenl ellorls. ll can reveal lhe organisalion's knowledge managemenl needs, slrenglhs,
weaknesses, opporlunilies, lhreals and risks.
4.5.2 What are the benefits?
8enelils ol a knowledge audil include.
helping lhe organisalion clearly idenlily whal knowledge is needed lo supporl overall organisalional
goals and individual and leam aclivilies.
giving langible evidence ol lhe exlenl lo which knowledge is being elleclively managed and indicales
where improvemenls are needed.
providing an evidence-based accounl ol lhe knowledge lhal exisls in an organisalion, and how lhal
knowledge moves around in, and is used by, lhal organisalion.
presenling a map ol whal knowledge exisls in lhe organisalion, and where il exisls, revealing bolh
gaps and duplicalion.
idenlilying pockels ol knowledge lhal are nol currenlly being used lo good advanlage and lherelore
oller unlapped polenlial.
providing a map ol knowledge and communicalion llows and nelworks, revealing bolh examples ol
good praclice and blockages and barriers lo good praclice.
presenling an invenlory ol knowledge assels, allowing lhem lo become more visible and lherelore
more measurable and accounlable, and giving a clearer underslanding ol lhe conlribulion ol
knowledge lo organisalional perlormance.
supplying vilal inlormalion lor lhe developmenl ol elleclive knowledge managemenl programmes
and inilialives lhal are direclly relevanl lo lhe organisalion's specilic knowledge needs and currenl
Some examples ol silualions in which a knowledge audil can be benelicial include.
you are aboul lo embark on crealing a knowledge managemenl slralegy and so need lo eslablish
exaclly "where you are now"
people are having dillicully in linding lhe inlormalion and knowledge lhey need lo make key
uselul sources ol inlormalion and knowledge are lrequenlly slumbled across by accidenl
lhere is duplicalion ol inlormalion and knowledge galhering aclivilies across dillerenl deparlmenls or
leams, and hence duplicalion ol cosls
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4 Getting started
queslions are being raised aboul lhe value ol knowledge managemenl syslems, inilialives or
when lindings lrom research and developmenl are nol making lheir way inlo praclice quickly
4.5.3 How do I go about it?
There are a wide variely ol approaches lo conducling a knowledge audil, wilh varying levels ol coverage and
delail. As a general rule, mosl knowledge audils will involve some or all ol lhe lollowing.
Identifying knowledge needs
The lirsl slep in mosl knowledge audils involves gelling clear aboul precisely whal knowledge lhe organisalion
and lhe people and leams wilhin il need in order lo meel lheir goals and objeclives.
A knowledge audil provides a syslemalic way ol linding lhis oul lo some level ol delail. Common approaches
laken lo collaling lhis inlormalion include queslionnaire-based surveys, inlerviews and lacililaled group
discussions, or a combinalion ol lhese.
ln asking people aboul knowledge needs, il is imporlanl lo provide a poinl ol locus, as "knowledge" can be
seen as being quile conceplual and lherelore dillicull lo arliculale. To gel around lhis, and lo ensure lhal you
are concenlraling on vilal knowledge, invile people lo lhink aboul lheir goals and objeclives, and lhe core
processes, aclivilies and decisions lhal lhey perlorm in lhe course ol lheir day-lo-day work. You mighl ask lhem
lo also consider lheir main problems and challenges, and how mighl lasler access lo beller knowledge help
lhem in lhal regard.
ll is always benelicial lo begin a knowledge audiling process wilh idenlilying knowledge needs. This enables you
lo lhen use your underslanding ol lhese needs lo guide lhe resl ol lhe audiling process, and lherelore be sure
lhal you are locusing on lhe knowledge lhal is imporlanl lo lhe organisalion.
Drawing up a knowledge inventory
A knowledge invenlory is a kind ol slock-lake lo idenlily and locale knowledge assels or resources lhroughoul
lhe organisalion. ll involves counling and calegorising lhe organisalion's explicil and lacil knowledge. ln lhe
case ol explicil knowledge, lhis will include lhings like.
whal knowledge we have numbers, lypes and calegories ol documenls, dalabases, libraries,
inlranel websiles, links and subscriplions lo exlernal resources elc.?
where lhe knowledge is localions in lhe organisalion, and in ils various syslems?
organisalion and access how are knowledge resources organised, how easy is il lor people lo lind
and access lhem?
purpose, relevance and "qualily" why do lhese resources exisl, how relevanl and appropriale are
lhey lor lhal purpose, are lhey ol good "qualily" e.g. up-lo-dale, reliable, evidence-based elc.?
usage are lhey aclually being used, by whom, how ollen, whal lor?
ln lhe case ol lacil knowledge, lhe invenlory will locus on people and look al lhings like.
Who we have numbers and calegories ol people
Where lhey are localions in deparlmenls, leams and buildings
Whal lhey do job levels and lypes
Whal lhey know academic and prolessional qualilicalions, core knowledge and experience
Whal lhey are learning on lhe job lraining, learning and developmenl.
The knowledge invenlory gives you a snapshol ol your knowledge assels or resources. 8y comparing your
invenlory wilh your earlier analysis ol knowledge needs, you can begin lo idenlily gaps in your organisalion's
knowledge as well as areas ol unnecessary duplicalion. This is also explored in grealer delail in lhe nexl slep.
Analysing knowledge flows
While an invenlory ol knowledge assels shows whal knowledge resources your organisalion has, an analysis ol
knowledge llows looks al how lhal knowledge moves around lhe organisalion lrom where il is lo where il is
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4 Getting started
needed. ln olher words, how do people lind lhe knowledge lhey need, and how do lhey share lhe knowledge
lhey have? Again, lhe knowledge llow analysis looks al bolh explicil and lacil knowledge, and al people,
processes and syslems.
The relalive locus in lhis slage is on people. lheir alliludes lowards, habils and behaviours concerning, and skills
in, knowledge sharing and use. This will usually require a combinalion ol queslionnaire-based surveys lollowed
up wilh individual inlerviews and lacililaled group discussions.
ln lerms ol processes, you will need lo look al how people go aboul lheir daily work aclivilies and how
knowledge seeking, sharing and use are (or are nol) parl ol lhose aclivilies. ln mosl organisalions, lhere will be
pockels ol good knowledge managemenl praclice (lhough lhey may nol be called knowledge managemenl).
You will also need lo look al whal policies and praclices currenlly allecl lhe llows and usage ol inlormalion and
knowledge, lor example are lhere exisling policies on lhings like inlormalion handling, records managemenl,
web publishing? Are lheir olher wider policies and praclices lhal, while nol direclly relaled lo knowledge
managemenl, acl as enablers or barriers lo good knowledge praclice?
On lhe syslems side, some assessmenl is needed ol key capabililies lhal will be used in any recommended
aclions or solulions. This includes lhe lechnical inlraslruclure. inlormalion lechnology syslems, conlenl
managemenl, accessibilily and ease ol use, and currenl aclual levels ol use. ln shorl, lo whal exlenl do your
syslems elleclively lacililale knowledge llows, and help lo connecl people wilh lhe inlormalion and olher
people lhey need.
An analysis ol knowledge llows will allow you lo lurlher idenlily gaps in your organisalion's knowledge and
areas ol duplicalion, il will also highlighl examples ol good praclice lhal can be buill on, as well as blockages
and barriers lo knowledge llows and elleclive use. ll will show where you need lo locus allenlion in your
knowledge managemenl inilialives in order lo gel knowledge moving lrom where il is lo where il is needed.
Creating a knowledge map
A knowledge map is a visual represenlalion ol an organisalion's knowledge. There are lwo common approaches
lo knowledge mapping.
! The lirsl simply maps knowledge resources and assels, showing whal knowledge exisls in lhe
organisalion and where il can be lound
2 The second also includes knowledge llows, showing how lhal knowledge moves around lhe
organisalion lrom where il is lo where il is needed.
Clearly lhe second approach provides lhe mosl complele piclure lor lhe knowledge audilor. However, lhe lirsl is
also uselul, and in some organisalions is made available lo all slall lo help people locale lhe knowledge lhey
4.5.4 Are there any other points I shouId be aware of?
8e clear aboul your purpose. The knowledge audil is nol a quick or simple process, and so lhe lime
and ellorl required needs lo be juslilied by a clear purpose and a sel ol aclions lhal will be laken as a
resull ol whal lhe audil reveals.
When conducling a knowledge audil, bear in mind lhe widely-accepled slalislic lhal around 80' ol
an organisalion's knowledge is lacil, hence beware ol locusing loo much lime and energy on explicil
knowledge and nol enough on lacil knowledge.
The ease or dillicully lhal you have in galhering and collaling lhe inlormalion you need as parl ol lhe
audil process is ilsell a good indicalor ol lhe slalus ol your currenl knowledge managemenl
ll you decide lo commission a knowledge audil lrom exlernal consullanls, be aware lhal lhe qualily
and deplh ol work lhal comes under lhe general banner ol "knowledge audiling" varies quile. Many
vendors use lhe lerm "knowledge audil" lo describe whal is in lacl an inlormalion audil which will
only look al explicil knowledge. Audiling lacil knowledge is probably where lhe grealer challenge
lies, and is hence lhe area in which experl help is likely lo be mosl valuable.
4.5.5 More information
Know Map lhe Knowledge Managemenl, Audiling and Mapping Magazine, has a range ol resources aboul
knowledge audiling available on lheir sile.
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4 Getting started
4.6 Developing a knowledge management strategy
4.6.1 What is a knowIedge management strategy?
A knowledge managemenl slralegy is simply a plan lhal describes how an organisalion will manage ils
knowledge beller lor lhe benelil ol lhal organisalion and ils slakeholders. A good knowledge managemenl
slralegy is closely aligned wilh lhe organisalion's overall slralegy and objeclives.
4.6.2 What are the benefits?
A good, clear knowledge managemenl slralegy can help lo.
increase awareness and underslanding ol knowledge managemenl in your organisalion
arliculale lhe business case and idenlily polenlial benelils
gain senior managemenl commilmenl
allracl resources lor implemenlalion
communicale good knowledge managemenl praclice
give you a clear, communicable plan aboul where you are now, where you wanl lo go, and how lo
plan lo gel lhere
give you a basis againsl which lo measure your progress
4.6.3 How do I go about it?
There are many ways lo approach lhe developmenl ol a knowledge managemenl slralegy, as well as many ways
ol presenling lhe slralegy documenl ilsell lhere is no "one size lils all". Larger organisalions will probably
need a delailed, lormal slralegy documenl whereas lor a smaller organisalion somelhing brieler and less lormal
mighl be more appropriale.
The strategy document
As a general guideline, a slralegy ol any kind lends lo include answers lo lhree key queslions. where are we
now, where do we wanl lo be, and how do we gel lhere?
A relalively briel and inlormal knowledge managemenl slralegy mighl be slruclured around lhese lhree
queslions and include lhings like.
! Where are we now?
An assessmenl ol lhe currenl silualion. How does currenl knowledge managemenl praclice (or lack
ol il) allecl lhe organisalion's abilily lo meel ils goals? How does il allecl lhe ellecliveness ol
individuals and leams? To whal exlenl do lhe organisalion's cullure, processes and syslems currenlly
acl as enablers ol, or barriers lo, good knowledge managemenl praclice?
2 Where do we wanl lo be?
An oulline ol whal knowledge managemenl will do lor lhe organisalion. How will il help lhe
organisalion and lhe people in il lo meel lheir objeclives? Whal mighl "good knowledge
managemenl praclice" look like lor lhis organisalion specilically? How will you know when you are
lhere i.e. how will you measure lhe progress and value ol your ellorls?
3 How do we gel lhere?
Describing lhe specilic aclions lhal will be laken lo gel lo where you wanl lo be. An aclion plan
covering lhe lhree key elemenls ol people, processes and lechnology. whal specilic knowledge
managemenl lools and processes will you use, how will you molivale people and realign your
organisalional cullure lo a "knowledge lriendly" one, and how will you develop lhe supporling
lechnological inlraslruclure? Also needs lo include delails ol resources required, deliverables, lime-
scales and responsibililies.
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lor lhe larger organisalion requiring a more lormal and delailed slralegy, David Skyrme
(hllp.// suggesls lhe lollowing lormal.
Lxeculive summary no more lhan !-2 pages.
8ackground giving sullicienl conlexl aboul whal inilialed lhis slralegy and where lhis documenl
lils wilhin lhe wider conlexl.
The case lor knowledge managemenl slarling wilh your organisalion's delinilion ol knowledge
managemenl, lhen explaining lhe conlribulion lhal beller knowledge managemenl will make lo your
organisalion, based on core organisalional objeclives.
Currenl knowledge managemenl silualion highlighl exisling knowledge managemenl aclivilies and
experience, oullining lhe benelils and explaining how lhese can be buill upon, expose barriers lo
lurlher progress.
Slakeholders' challenges and knowledge needs summarise lhe key issues and knowledge needs ol
lhe organisalion and relevanl slakeholders (e.g. leaders, slall, palienls, relevanl NHS and governmenl
aulhorilies elc.), include an assessmenl ol lhe exisling qualily and accessibilily ol knowledge
Knowledge managemenl vision and slralegy overview il is ollen uselul lo encapsulale an inspiring
vision and mission in one or lwo senlences each, lhis is lollowed by some key knowledge
managemenl objeclives.
Delails ol slralegy oulline lhe lisl ol aclivilies and projecls lo be implemenled, il is uselul lo group
lhese inlo specilic lhemes or areas ol aclion, lypical lhemes mighl include. knowledge managemenl
lools and lechniques, people and cullural aspecls, knowledge managemenl skills developmenl,
lechnology, leadership and governance (who will own and drive lhe slralegy), communicalions (how
will lhe slralegy be promoled and rolled oul), and measuremenl (how will perlormance and progress
be measured).
Aclion plan give delails ol deliverables, lime-scales, resources and budgels required lor all aclions,
and reileraling lhe benelils.
Dependencies highlighl crilical dependencies such as lhe availabilily ol key personnel, approval ol
budgels elc., also spell oul lhe impacl ol "doing nolhing".
Conclusions/Nexl Sleps a simple oulline ol whal needs lo happen nexl lo move lhe agenda lorward
and lranslale lhe slralegy inlo aclion.
Appendices lypical appendices mighl include lhe lindings ol a knowledge audil, some background
malerial on knowledge managemenl such as delinilions, summaries ol any exisling knowledge
managemenl projecls or inilialives, elc.
Developing your strategy
ln developing a knowledge managemenl slralegy, various praclilioners oller a range ol lips, some ol which are
oullined here.
! Slarl wilh your organisalion's slralegy and objeclives
The mosl imporlanl laclor in guiding a knowledge managemenl slralegy is lhe organisalion's overall
slralegy and goals. Civen lhal lhe whole purpose ol knowledge managemenl is lo help lhe
organisalion lo achieve ils goals, lhe knowledge managemenl slralegy should describe precisely
lhal. ln order lo do lhal, you need lo undersland whal your organisalional goals are, and how you
are currenlly perlorming againsl lhem. Talk lo key people lhroughoul your organisalion aboul
slralegy and goals. Look al whal various deparlmenls or lunclions are doing. Discuss plans lor lhe
lulure, and look al laclors lhal inlluence reaching goals. Cel a leel lor how sub-oplimal knowledge
managemenl mighl be currenlly limiling lhe organisalion in achieving ils goals, and how beller
knowledge managemenl mighl help il lo achieve lhem.
Look lor gaps lhal could prevenl lhe organisalion lrom achieving ils goals. As you lalk lo people, be
on lhe look oul lor lhe issues lhal are really causing lhem problems lheir "pains". As well as
problems, look lor opporlunilies nol only lhe chance lo lix lhings, bul also lhe chance lo do
somelhing new or beller. Needs, problems, pains and opporlunilies give you an opening lo use
knowledge lo make a dillerence.
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As well as being be an inlegral parl ol lhe wider organisalional slralegy, a knowledge managemenl
slralegy should also be coherenl wilh human resources and inlormalion lechnology slralegies.
2 Conducl a knowledge audil
A knowledge audil is an invesligalion inlo an organisalion's knowledge managemenl "heallh". A
lypical audil will look al.
Whal are lhe organisalion's knowledge needs?
Whal knowledge assels or resources does il have and where are lhey?
Whal gaps exisl in ils knowledge?
How does knowledge llow around lhe organisalion?
Whal blockages are lhere lo lhal llow?
To whal exlenl do ils people, processes and lechnology currenlly supporl or hamper lhe
elleclive knowledge managemenl?
The knowledge audil can reveal lhe organisalion's knowledge managemenl needs, slrenglhs,
weaknesses, opporlunilies, lhreals and risks. ll provides an evidence-based assessmenl ol where lhe
organisalion needs lo locus ils knowledge managemenl ellorls.
3 Think aboul people, processes and lechnology
When planning your approach lo knowledge managemenl, be sure lo address each ol lhe lhree key
aspecls ol people, processes and lechnology. ll is ollen said lhal any knowledge managemenl
slralegy lhal does nol incorporale all lhree is deslined lo lail.
4 Think aboul capluring versus connecling
A key decision in developing your slralegy and in selecling knowledge managemenl lools and
lechniques involves looking al lhe relalive locus on explicil and lacil knowledge in olher words, do
you wanl lo locus on connecling people wilh inlormalion, or on connecling people wilh people? Ol
course lhis is nol an "eilher/or" decision and mosl knowledge managemenl slralegies lend lo
involve a combinalion ol lhe lwo, lhe oplimal balance belween lhem will depend on your
organisalional conlexl.
5 8alance a long-lerm vision wilh quick wins
A good slralegy will rellecl a balance belween "quick-wins" and building a suslainable knowledge
managemenl capabilily inlo lhe long-lerm. The advanlage ol quick wins is lhal lhey allow people lo
see immediale benelils, and lherelore lhey are more likely lo give lheir supporl.
As well as seeking a number ol quick wins, lry nol lo be over-ambilious in lhe shorl lo medium-
lerm. Avoid long lisls ol lhings lo do. You cannol change an organisalion cullure and ingrained
work habils overnighl. Pick a lew core aclivilies where you can make a dillerence, and priorilise and
locus on lhose. Al lhe same lime, do keep your long-lerm vision in view.
6 Whal's in il lor me?
Caining supporl and acceplance lor your slralegy and ullimalely embedding knowledge
managemenl inlo lhe organisalion is aboul winning "hearls and minds". Think conslanlly aboul
addressing lhe "whal's in il lor me?" queslion lhal lhose whose conlribulion is needed will
invariably ask (and even il lhey don'l ask il in so many words, you can be lairly sure lhey are lhinking
il). Always anlicipale lhal queslion lrom all ol lhose involved senior managers, budgel-holders,
middle managers, slall, palienls, lhose deparlmenls and lunclions whose supporl you will need
such as human resources and inlormalion lechnology. ln answering lhe "whal's in il lor me?"
queslion, consider lhe lhree key levels ol "me". mysell, my leam/deparlmenl/lunclion, and my
organisalion as a whole.
7 8uild lhe evidence wilh pilols
The vasl majorily ol knowledge managemenl praclilioners who have learned lrom direcl experience
slrongly recommend using a pilol projecl as a "lesl bed" belore launching any new knowledge
managemenl inilialives. Pilols have a number ol advanlages. lhey allow you lo lesl an approach
wilh a small group ol users lo lind whal works and whal doesn'l, and lo reline your approach and
"gel il righl" belore rolling oul across lhe wider organisalion. This means lhal when rolling oul, you
already have evidence lo demonslrale lhal whal you are advocaling aclually works in praclice.
Similarly, your learning and "mislakes" have laken place in a conlained environmenl, so lhey will nol
have a negalive impacl on lhe organisalion as a whole view ol knowledge managemenl. You are
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lherelore slrongly advised lo build pilol projecls inlo your knowledge managemenl slralegy belore
seeking lo launch any major new inilialives.
4.6.4 Are there any other points I shouId be aware of?
ll is imporlanl lo deline precisely whal knowledge managemenl means lor your organisalion. There
is no single agreed delinilion "oul lhere" and given lhal knowledge managemenl as a concepl
essenlially borrows lrom a range ol olher disciplines, lhere is a greal deal ol misunderslanding aboul
whal is aclually involved. People lrom an inlormalion managemenl background mighl have one
viewpoinl, lhose working in inlormalion lechnology will lend lo have anolher, lhose in human
resources anolher slill, elc. A clear and common underslanding ol whal il means in your organisalion
is lherelore essenlial.
Don'l lhink you have lo wail unlil you have a knowledge managemenl slralegy in place belore you
can "do" knowledge managemenl. More ollen lhan nol, knowledge managemenl inilialives begin
belore lhere is a slralegy. ln lacl many praclilioners aclively advocale il, believing lhal a slralegy only
becomes appropriale once knowledge managemenl inilialives have "had lheir honeymoon period"
and are ready lo be lormally organised and endorsed.
A common mislake is a slralegy lhal is loo lheorelical and "dry". Many knowledge managemenl
slralegies read as il lhey have come slraighl lrom a lexlbook (and some probably have). Your
slralegy needs lo be "real', wrillen in lhe language ol your organisalion, and relevanl lo your
organisalion's silualion. Similarly, be crealive in making il inleresling and bringing il alive.
Again, don'l lorgel lhe "whal's in il lor me?" queslion. Clearly demonslrale lhe benelils ol
knowledge managemenl lhroughoul your slralegy. How will il reduce cosls and lime, improve
perlormance, increase elliciency, reduce risk, elc.? Use real examples.
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4.7 Exit interviews
4.7.1 What are exit interviews?
Tradilionally, exil inlerviews are conducled wilh employees leaving an organisalion. The purpose ol lhe inlerview
is lo provide leedback on why employees are leaving, whal lhey liked or didn'l like aboul lheir employmenl and
whal areas ol lhe organisalion lhey leel need improvemenl. Lxil inlerviews are one ol lhe mosl widely used
melhods ol galhering employee leedback, along wilh employee salislaclion surveys.
More recenlly, lhe concepl ol exil inlerviewing has been revisiled and expanded as a knowledge managemenl
lool, as a way ol capluring knowledge lrom leavers. Palher lhan simply capluring human resources inlormalion,
lhe inlerview also aims lo caplure knowledge aboul whal il lakes lo do lhe job.
4.7.2 What are the benefits of exit interviews?
vilal knowledge is nol losl lo lhe organisalion when people leave
lhe learning curve ol new people joining lhe organisalion is shorlened
lhey can be done relalively quickly and inexpensively
lhey can resull in lhe leaver having a more posilive view ol lhe organisalion
Done correclly, exil inlerviews can be a win-win silualion lor bolh lhe organisalion and lhe leaver. The
organisalion gels lo relain a porlion ol lhe leaver's knowledge and make il available lo olhers, while lhe leaver
gels lo arliculale lheir unique conlribulions lo lhe organisalion and lo "leave lheir mark".
4.7.3 How do I go about it?
Tradilional exil inlerviews can be conducled in a variely ol ways. lace-lo-lace, over lhe lelephone, using a
wrillen queslionnaire, or via lhe lnlernel using an exil inlerview managemenl syslem. ln a knowledge-locused
exil inlerview, a lace-lo-lace inlerview is needed.
You will need lo lhink carelully aboul lhe inlormalion you would like lo galher belore lhe inlerview and slarl
your preparalions early. While lhe lradilional exil inlerview will lend lo collecl mainly human resources
inlormalion, lhe primary locus ol lhe knowledge-locused inlerview is on knowledge lhal would be helplul lo
lhe nexl person who will do lhe job or lo olhers in lhe organisalion doing similar jobs.
Slarl planning lhe handover and exil inlerview as soon as you know a person is leaving. ldenlily who in lhe
organisalion mighl benelil lrom lhal person's knowledge and whal lhey will need lo know. Then work oul a
plan lo caplure lhe leaver's knowledge during lhe lime remaining belore lhey leave. This should include bolh
explicil knowledge (knowledge lhal is already documenled such as in liles and e-mails, and knowledge lhal can
be easily documenled), and lacil knowledge (knowledge lhal is less easy lo caplure and lhal needs lo be
explained or demonslraled).
ln lhe case ol explicil knowledge, make sure lhe leaver moves relevanl liles bolh hard copy and eleclronic
inlo shared lolders or a documenl library. Ask lhem lo prune and organise lhese liles and lo creale role and lask
lolders or noles lor lheir successor.
lor lacil knowledge, you will need lo inlerview lhe leaver lace-lo-lace. Prepare lor lhe inlerview by reviewing
lhe key lasks lhe person does based on a job descriplion or annual perlormance plan. You can lhen use lhal
inlormalion as lhe basis lor discussing how lhey go aboul lhose lasks, whal knowledge and skills lhey need, any
problems or pillalls lo be aware ol elc. lind oul aboul lheir nelwork ol conlacls and sources ol knowledge. ll
possible, creale an overlap period belween lhe leaver and lheir successor so lhal a "live" handover can be done.
When conducling exil inlerviews, lhink carelully aboul who will be lhe inlerviewer. Someone lrom lhe Human
Pesources Deparlmenl conducls lradilional exil inlerviews. However lhis need nol be lhe case in lhe knowledge-
locused inlerview. Ollen a peer or a relevanl subjecl experl will be mosl appropriale. Over and above lhe
obvious inlerpersonal and inlerviewing skills needed, you will need lo consider issues ol lrusl and honesly. lor
example, il an employee has had a dillicull relalionship wilh a manager or colleague, lhal person mighl nol be
besl placed lo conducl lhe inlerview. Whoever you selecl, make sure lhey are approprialely skilled and lrained.
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4.7.4 Are there any other points I shouId be aware of?
Tradilional exil inlerviews are usually only appropriale lor employees who volunlarily resign or relire
ralher lhan lhose who are lired or made redundanl. ln lhe case ol lhe knowledge-locused inlerview,
much will depend on lhe exlenl lo which lhe organisalion has a cullure lhal encourages knowledge
8e clear aboul who will use lhe knowledge galhered and how il will be used, belore you begin lo
galher il, lhe purpose ol lhe inlerview is nol lo galher knowledge per se, bul lo galher uselul
knowledge lhal will aclually be used.
The less you caplure knowledge on a regular basis, lhe more you need lo caplure il al exil. However
you may decide lhal you could gain more value lrom capluring knowledge al more regular inlervals.
lor example, The Posl Ollice uses exil inlerviews as one parl ol a series ol "cradle-lo-grave"
inlerviews lo collecl knowledge, using a melhod called 3L. The lhree Ls are Lnlry, Lxperl and Lxil.
Lnlry inlerviews allow you lo galher knowledge when employees lirsl join lhe organisalion when
lhey have "new eyes" and a lresh perspeclive, and also lo ask lhem whal lhey would like lo know lo
help lhem "gel up lo speed". Lxperl inlerviews are conducled as lhey develop skills and become
experls in a parlicular role or lield. lor more inlormalion aboul lhis wider approach, see knowledge
4.7.5 More information
Leverage exil inlerviews lo collecl key knowledge
by Pamela Holloway Worklorce Managemenl.
(Pegislralion required bul lhis is lree)
Tips and Techniques lor Llleclive Lxil lnlerviews
by Pamela Holloway.
Disappearing knowledge. are exil inlerviews lhe wil's end?
by David Skyrme l3 Updale, 200!, November, No 55
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4.8 Identifying and sharing best practices
4.8.1 What is identifying and sharing best practices?
The sharing ol praclices is ollen one ol lhe lirsl lhings lo be carried oul in a knowledge managemenl inilialive.
ln mosl organisalions il is already being done lo some degree. This ollen begins wilh common praclices such as
inslruclion manuals or "how lo" guidelines. The nexl slep lrom lhere is lo idenlily and share besl praclices.
A besl praclice is simply a process or a melhodology lhal represenls lhe mosl elleclive way ol achieving a
specilic objeclive. Some people preler lo use lhe lerm "good praclice" as in realily il is debalable whelher lhere
is a single "besl" approach and, ol course, approaches are conslanlly evolving and being updaled. So, anolher
way ol delining a besl praclice is one lhal has been proven lo work well and produce good resulls, and is
lherelore recommended as a model.
Much ol besl praclice knowledge is lacil held in people's heads and nol always easy lo documenl. Therelore,
mosl besl praclice programmes combine lwo key elemenls. explicil knowledge such as a besl praclices dalabase
(connecling people wilh inlormalion), and melhods lor sharing lacil knowledge such as communilies ol praclice
(connecling people wilh people). These lwo approaches are complemenlary. A dalabase can provide enough
inlormalion lor a polenlial user ol lhe besl praclice lo lind il and decide il il is worlh pursuing lurlher. However,
lhe besl way ol sharing besl praclices is "on lhe job" and so communilies and personal conlacl wilh olhers who
have used lhe besl praclice is key.
4.8.2 What are the benefits?
The essence ol idenlilying and sharing besl praclices is lo learn lrom olhers and lo re-use knowledge. Llleclive
sharing ol besl praclices can help organisalions lo.
idenlily and replace poor praclices
raise lhe perlormance ol poor perlormers closer lo lhal ol lhe besl
avoid reinvenling lhe wheel
minimize re-work caused by use ol poor melhods
save cosls lhrough beller produclivily and elliciency
improve services lo palienls
8esl praclice programmes are mosl appropriale in organisalions where processes are quile well developed and
where a cerlain amounl ol knowledge and experience has been accumulaled. They are mosl uselul where an
organisalion has several unils or people perlorming similar lasks bul who are widely dispersed and so do nol
lend lo learn lrom each olher lhrough day-lo-day conlacl.
4.8.3 How do I go about it?
ln "8esl Praclices in 8esl Praclices", David Skyrme recommends a 6-slep approach lo idenlilying and sharing
besl praclices. This is summarised here. The overall approach is aimed al documenling lhe essenlial lealures ol a
besl praclice, giving poinlers lo relevanl experls in lhal praclice, deducing general guidelines, dillusing basic
knowledge, and using subjecl maller experls lo apply and adapl lhe praclices in a new conlexl.
The key sleps are as lollows.
! ldenlily users' requiremenls
This slep may sound obvious, bul il is nol uncommon lor someone given lhe lask ol capluring besl
praclices lo slarl by designing a dalabase, when clearly lhis is a case ol pulling lhe carl belore lhe
horse. Slarl by considering where you can really add value. Look al whal areas ol lhe organisalion
need allenlion because ol poor perlormance or dillicull challenges. Who can mosl benelil lrom
beller knowledge and underslanding ol besl praclices? How will lhey access and use lhem?
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2 Discover good praclices
There are various melhods ol idenlilying besl praclices. One approach is lo look al who is producing
excellenl resulls and is lherelore likely lo be using good praclices. Having discovered lhese people,
you will lhen need lo discern which parls ol lheir overall approach or melhods being used are
relevanl praclices such as subjecl maller experls, inlernal audilors, consullanls and peers. A range ol
allernalive approaches lor idenlilying besl praclices can be lound wilhin various knowledge
managemenl lools. These include communilies ol praclice, aller aclion reviews, knowledge
harvesling and exil inlerviews. Don'l necessarily limil your search lo only include praclices wilhin
your organisalion, much can be learned lrom lhe praclices ol olher organisalions in your lield, or
even organisalions in olher induslries.
3 Documenl good praclices
8esl praclice descriplions are usually kepl in a dalabase in a slandard lormal. A lypical lemplale
mighl include lhe lollowing seclions.
Tille. shorl, descriplive lille, lhis can be accompanied by a shorl abslracl.
Prolile. several shorl seclions oullining processes, lunclion, aulhor, keywords, elc.
Conlexl. where is lhis applicable? Whal problems does il solve?
Pesources. whal resources and skills are needed lo carry oul lhe besl praclice?
Descriplion. whal are lhe processes and sleps involved?
lmprovemenl measures. are lhere perlormance measures associaled wilh lhis praclice?
Lessons learned. whal proves dillicull? Whal would lhe originalors ol lhe praclice do dillerenlly
il lhey were lo do il again?
Links lo resources. experls conlacl delails, workbooks, video clips, arlicles, lranscripls ol review
meelings, lools and lechniques used.
The aim al lhis slage is nol lo describe lhe praclice in greal delail, bul lo give enough inlormalion lo
allow users ol lhe dalabase lo decide whelher il malches lheir needs and where lhey can lind
lurlher inlormalion. A key consideralion is how you can organize and classily lhe inlormalion in your
dalabase so lhal users can readily lind whal lhey need.
4 Validale besl praclices
A praclice is only "good" or "besl" il lhere is a demonslrable link belween whal is praclised and lhe
end resull. ln mosl organisalions, and especially in areas where praclices are conslanlly evolving,
rigorous cause-and-ellecl analysis is impraclicable. Hence a degree ol subjeclive judgemenl is
needed as lo whal conslilules "besl". A common approach is lo have a panel ol reviewers
compromising inlernal and exlernal subjecl experls and peers, who evaluale a polenlial besl praclice
againsl lheir knowledge ol exisling praclice. ll is equally imporlanl lo ensure lhal you seek inpul and
leedback lrom cuslomers (i.e. lhe ullimale beneliciaries, such as palienls) ol lhe besl praclices.
ln lhe conlexl ol lhe NHS, a lurlher imporlanl consideralion is lhal ol evidence-based praclice.
When idenlilying and validaling besl praclices, il is imporlanl lo ensure lhal lhese are based on a
combinalion ol bolh on-lhe-job experience and sound research evidence.
5 Disseminale and apply
While a dalabase ol besl praclices is a uselul slarling poinl, mosl organisalions lind il essenlial lo
complemenl lhis wilh lace-lo-lace knowledge sharing aboul lhose besl praclices. This is where lhe
real value is added. Nol only does il help lhe recipienl dig benealh lhe explicil knowledge and gain
more in deplh insighls, bul il can also provide a lwo-benelil in lhal dialogue belween lhe conveyor
ol besl praclice knowledge and lhe recipienl can enrich lhe knowledge ol bolh.
Common ways ol sharing besl praclice knowledge include. communilies ol praclice, improvemenl
groups or qualily circles in which leams wilhin an organisalion meel regularly lo discuss ways ol
improving a process, visils lo olher deparlmenls or organisalions wilh good perlormance, organised
learning evenls such as share lairs or knowledge cales, lhal bring people logelher lo share specilic
knowledge and experience, job secondmenls or exchanges, elc.
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6 Develop a supporling inlraslruclure
To successlully implemenl a besl praclice programme, you need lo ensure you have lhe required
inlraslruclure in place. This inlraslruclure is ollen developed as parl ol a wider knowledge
managemenl slralegy. Typically, several generic aspecls need allenlion.
The people lo lacililale and drive lhe process lhrough ils inilial slages, unlil il becomes
embedded in lhe organisalion's ways ol working (e.g. a besl praclices leam, or a nelwork ol
besl praclices co-ordinalors).
The lechnical inlraslruclure lor documenl sharing and dalabases.
The conlenl managemenl inlraslruclure lo ensure lhal besl praclices are documenled and
classilied eleclronically in a way lhal makes lhem easy lo lind.
4.8.4 Are there any other points I shouId be aware of?
Lslablishing a programme lo idenlily and share besl praclice is nol generally a "quick lix" solulion lor
organisalions lhal are relalively new lo knowledge managemenl. Selling up lhe required processes
and inlraslruclure can be quile a big lask, unless you already have some aspecls ol a knowledge
managemenl inlraslruclure in place.
As wilh an knowledge managemenl inilialive, don'l lorgel lhe imporlance ol molivalion and cullure.
The ease wilh which good praclices emerge and are shared depends on lhe cullure ol your
organisalion. ll lhere is a "nol invenled here" cullure, lhen good praclices will be slow lo emerge
and spread, as each parl ol lhe organisalion will delend ils own way ol doing lhings ralher lhan
learning lrom, and shearing wilh, olhers. Where people are generally encouraged lo seek oul
knowledge and learning, besl praclices are more likely lo emerge and spread.
Try nol lo gel loo prescriplive aboul besl praclices. Palher lhan pulling in rigid rules lhal say "lhis is
besl praclice and you should lollow il", locus more on encouraging people lo develop and share besl
praclices volunlarily.
Do nol make lhe mislake ol locusing on capluring besl praclices lor lhe sake ol capluring lhem.
locus on how lhey can be used lo add value. Who are lhe users? Whal are lheir issues? Whal kind ol
knowledge do lhey need lo perlorm beller? How mighl lhey besl assimilale lhal knowledge?
You will need lo aclively promole your besl praclice resources. Olherwise you may end up wilh
dalabases and people lhal are under-used and nol lullilling lheir polenlial.
8e sure lo demonslrale lhe benelils and lhe evidence. Use case examples lo show lhe benelils ol
sharing besl praclices, and as lar as possible demonslrale how a besl praclice has conlribuled lo
beller perlormance.
Pemember lhal besl praclice is conslanlly evolving. Therelore leedback mechanisms musl be buill in
so lhal lhe value ol exisling besl praclices is conslanlly assessed, and leedback used lo creale lurlher
Pesisl lhe lemplalion lo locus on explicil knowledge il cannol be emphasised enough lhal
dalabases ol besl praclices are insullicienl. Dalabases poinl lo examples and people, bul il is lhrough
people lhal deep knowledge is lranslerred.
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4.9 Knowledge centres
4.9.1 What are knowIedge centres?
ln shorl, an enhanced version ol a library. The "enhancemenl" lies in a wider locus on knowledge as well as on
inlormalion. a knowledge cenlre lypically provides a locus lor collecling, organising and disseminaling bolh
knowledge and inlormalion. This does nol necessarily mean lhal lhe knowledge cenlre will aclually perlorm all
ol lhese aclivilies ilsell. Palher, il will creale a lramework and provide leadership, co-ordinalion, guidance and
4.9.2 What are the benefits?
A knowledge cenlre can bring core knowledge managemenl responsibililies and aclivilies under a single
umbrella ralher lhan leaving il lo dispersed individuals and leams. Lconomies ol scale can lherelore be achieved
avoiding duplicalion ol ellorl and resources,
pooling experlise,
achieving bulk purchasing discounls,
reusing knowledge and inlormalion in a variely ol conlexls.
4.9.3 How do I go about it?
The services lhal a lypical knowledge cenlre mighl provide include.
Mainlaining and developing knowledge reposilories e.g. lhe organisalion's inlranel, key inlormalion
dalabases and colleclions.
Providing conlenl managemenl services such as calaloguing, indexing and developing laxonomies lor
eleclronic knowledge reposilories.
Coordinaling lhe capluring ol knowledge lrom projecls and assignmenls and incorporaling il inlo
knowledge bases such as dalabases ol besl praclices and/or case sludies.
ldenlilying and lorming links wilh sources ol imporlanl knowledge, bolh inside and oulside lhe
Providing poinlers lo people as well as lo inlormalion connecling people who need help wilh
people who can provide il, idenlilying subjecl experls, mainlaining a skills dalabase, connecling
people who share similar needs or are working on similar problems, elc.
Providing a "one slop shop" lor mulliple knowledge and inlormalion needs.
Providing poinlers lo resources and/or lraining in inlormalion and knowledge skills.
Cood knowledge cenlres will pul as much emphasis on connecling people wilh people "know-who" as lhey
do on connecling people wilh inlormalion and documenl colleclions. They will be concerned wilh "aclive" nol
"archive" knowledge, so need lo be lully up lo speed wilh whal is happening in lhe organisalion including
currenl priorilies and work in progress "who is doing whal now".
Knowledge cenlres may also be crealed lor very specilic goals. lor example in lhe !990s, consulling lirm Lrnsl &
Young crealed lhree knowledge cenlres, each wilh a dislincl remil.
! lhe Cenlre lor 8usiness lnnovalion would creale new knowledge lhrough research,
2 lhe Cenlre lor 8usiness Technology would use exisling knowledge lo creale predelined melhods and
aulomaled lools, and
3 lhe Cenlre lor 8usiness Knowledge would galher and slore lhe lirm's inlernal and exlernal
knowledge and inlormalion resources.
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The services ol lhe laller included a library, a call cenlre lor answering consullanl requesls, and a dalabase ol
consullanl skills. Managers ol lhe cenlre also had responsibilily lor idenlilying and lracking subjecl maller
experls, and lor organising knowledge nelworks around each key domain ol knowledge wilhin lhe business.
Anolher key lask ol lhe cenlre was lo develop a knowledge archileclure and laxonomy, in order lo specily lhe
calegories and lerms in which lhe lirm needed lo galher and slore knowledge. Key areas ol knowledge were
represenled by "Power Packs" slruclured sels ol online resources and malerials including answers lo
lrequenlly encounlered issues.
4.9.4 Are there any other points I shouId be aware of?
Knowledge cenlres, while similar lo libraries, are nol lhe same. A knowledge cenlre is based on lhe idea lhal
knowledge resides primarily in people ralher lhan in documenls or compuler syslems. Hence in a knowledge
cenlre, lhere is a slrong emphasis on connecling people wilh each olher, as well as wilh inlormalion.
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4 Getting started
4.10 Knowledge harvesting
4.10.1 What is knowIedge harvesting?
Knowledge harvesling is an approach lhal allows lhe lacil knowledge or know-how ol experls and lop
perlormers in an organisalion lo be caplured and documenled. This know-how can lhen be made available lo
olhers in various ways such as lhrough lraining programmes, manuals, besl praclices and knowledge
managemenl dalabases. Knowledge in organisalions exisls in lwo lorms. explicil knowledge, which is easily
caplured and shared, and lacil knowledge, which is more experienlial and inluilive, and so is less easy lo
arliculale. Knowledge harvesling is aboul lrying lo make some ol lhe lacil knowledge more explicil. lls aim is lo
help organisalions make beller and wider use ol lheir exisling knowledge by exlracling il lrom lhe heads ol a
lew key people and making il available lo a much wider range ol people.
4.10.2 What are the benefits?
The ullimale goal ol knowledge harvesling is lo caplure an experl's decision-making processes wilh enough
clarily lhal someone else could repeal lhe same processes and gel lhe same resulls.
Knowledge harvesling can be elleclively used in a range ol silualions such as.
When an organisalion wanls lo "know whal il knows".
When knowledge and inlormalion are needed lor a specilic, clearly delined, purpose.
To caplure lhe knowledge ol employees who are leaving lhe organisalion or deparlmenl.
To galher knowledge lo supporl a process ol change or improvemenl.
To kick-slarl a knowledge managemenl programme by quickly generaling a body ol experl
knowledge aboul a subjecl and making il available across lhe organisalion.
As an ongoing praclice, as parl ol a wider knowledge managemenl slralegy.
The benelils ol knowledge harvesling include.
The knowledge ol a lew key individuals is made readily available lo olhers who need il.
lndividuals can access experls' knowledge when and where lhey need il, wilhoul being dependenl
on lhe availabilily ol lhal experl.
Vilal knowledge is nol losl lo lhe organisalion when people leave.
The learning curve ol new people joining lhe organisalion is shorlened.
The langible knowledge assels ol lhe organisalion can be increased.
Produclivily and elliciency can be improved, as people can use exisling experlise ralher lhan having
lo go lhrough lheir own lrial-and-error experiences.
ll can be done relalively quickly and inexpensively.
4.10.3 How do I go about it?
While lhere is no sel lormula lor knowledge harvesling, lhere are some general guidelines lhal lacililale lhe
process. These can be broken down inlo a number ol sleps.
Decide on whal specilic knowledge and experlise you wanl lo caplure, and be clear aboul whal lhe benelils will
be. ll is neilher possible nor desirable lo caplure everylhing lhal everyone knows.
You need lo locus on lhe knowledge lhal is mosl imporlanl lo lhe success ol your organisalion. Slarl by looking
al your organisalion's goals and objeclives. Whal do you need lo do beller, or conlinue lo do well, in order lo
achieve lhose objeclives? How does knowledge supporl you in doing lhal?
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Lxamples ol key knowledge mighl be.
knowledge aboul, or a relalionship wilh, a parlicular lype ol palienl or a supplier
key operalional processes
a key syslem, lechnology or piece ol equipmenl
a specilic illness, disease or lrealmenl
lhe organisalional cullure, lhe inlernal inlraslruclure, "how lo gel lhings done around here"
Understand your target audience
ll is imporlanl lo undersland who will be using lhe knowledge lhal you are capluring belore you slarl lo caplure
il. This will help you ensure you caplure lhe righl knowledge al lhe righl level, and make il available in lhe mosl
appropriale ways. Consider who will be your largel audience, how many ol lhem lhere are, where lhey are
localed, whal lheir needs are whal do lhey need lo know aboul lhis specilic subjecl, whal is lheir currenl level
ol knowledge and experience ol il, how will lhey apply lhe knowledge, whal access lo lhey have lo various
media such as an inlranel, elc.?
Find your experts
ldenlily lhe experls lhe people who have lhe knowledge and know-how you are seeking lo caplure. ll you
have a slall direclory lhal includes delails people's skills and knowledge lhen lhis is a good place lo slarl.
Olherwise you mighl look al key documenls on a subjecl and see who aulhored lhem, or ask managers and
slall working in lhe area. 8ear in mind lhal experls are nol necessarily lhe mosl senior people in lhe
organisalion. Once you have lound your experls, you can lhen collale some relevanl background inlormalion
aboul lhem including job descriplions, roles and responsibililies, educalion and lraining, work experience elc.
Choose your harvesters
An elleclive harvesler (inlerviewer) is crucial. Much ol lhe success ol knowledge harvesling relies on lhe abilily
ol lhe inlerviewer lo elicil lhe righl knowledge lrom experls. Making lacil knowledge explicil can be dillicull
people ollen don'l "know whal lhey know" and so helping people lo lalk aboul whal lhey know, and lhen
capluring lhal elleclively, is a key skill. ll is generally recommended lhal you use a lrained harvesler whelher
you hire an exlernal consullanl, or develop and lrain someone in-house. ln lhe laller case, consider people wilh
slrong communicalion, inlerpersonal and inlerviewing skills, such as recruilers, researchers, lrainers, counsellors
or nurses.
Harvest: interview your experts
The besl way lo caplure lacil knowledge is using one-lo-one, lace-lo-lace inlerviews wilh your experls. The
inlerviews will involve asking lhem lo lalk aboul whal lhey do and lo describe specilic silualions in which lhey
have applied specilic know-how. lnlerviews need lo be well prepared in advance, including dralling a lopic
guide or a lisl ol queslions. Lxamples ol queslions mighl include.
Describe a lime when.?
Whal's lhe lirsl lhing you do?
How do you know lo do lhal?
How do you know when lo do il?
Whal do you do nexl? Why?
Whal usually happens?
Whal happens il somelhing else is done?
Whal would happen il.?
Who else is involved?
Whal are some common mislakes or misconceplions?
Whal is lhe mosl imporlanl lhing lo remember when you're doing lhis?
Describe how you currenlly help olhers learn how lo do lhis?
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Whal are lhe main obslacles lhal prevenl lhem lrom achieving lhe same resulls as you?
Whal are examples ol supporl malerials, documenls, procedures, manuals, research evidence, check-
lisls lhal are relevanl?
Whal would make lhis process easier lo undersland?
Whal would make lhis process easier lo achieve?
ln order lo elleclively caplure lhe responses, you will need eilher a lape recorder or a second person lo
lranscribe lhe inlerview. Some praclilioners recommend a process in which lhe harvesler conducls inilial
inlerviews wilh experls, and lhen presenls lhe resulls lo a group represenling lhe evenlual users ol lhal
knowledge. Any gaps in whal lhe users need lo know, or in lheir underslanding ol whal has been caplured, can
lhen be used lo lorm lhe basis ol a second round ol experl inlerviewing. This process ol cycling belween experls
and evenlual users can be invaluable in ensuring a lil belween whal is needed and whal is being caplured.
Organise, package and share
Once lhe knowledge has been galhered il can lhen be ediled, organised and presenled (or "packaged") inlo a
lorm lhal meels lhe needs ol ils users. This may be a check-lisl, a manual or a sel ol guidelines elc. lhal can
lhen be made available eilher in hard copy or (ideally, assuming your users have easy access lo a compuler) in a
knowledge dalabase or on lhe organisalion's inlranel. ln some cases, lhe inlormalion is loaded inlo inleraclive
sollware lo provide an online lool lo help users lhrough relevanl decision-making processes. lor example, such a
syslem mighl provide a variely ol mulliple-choice queslions lhal guide lhe user lo deline a problem and apply
lhe relevanl crileria lo solve il.
Apply, evaluate and adapt
ll is imporlanl lo ensure lhal lhe knowledge you have caplured is being accessed and applied and lhal users are
gelling value lrom il. You will also need lo consider ils value over lime. knowledge harvesling can resull in
relalively slalic documenls lhal will, al some poinl, become oul-ol-dale and so lhey will need lo be conlinually
relreshed il lhey are lo relain lheir value.
4.10.4 Are there any other points I shouId be aware of?
8elore embarking on a knowledge harvesling programme, you need lo consider whelher your
organisalion's cullure is one lhal encourages knowledge sharing. Successlul knowledge galhering
and sharing is unlikely lo happen il people leel lhey would be al a disadvanlage by sharing lheir
knowledge. lor example, experls may leel lhal lheir slalus or job securily depends on keeping lheir
knowledge lo lhemselves. lor more inlormalion aboul organisalional cullure, see People.
8elore you begin, be sure lhal you are clear on how you inlend lo package and make available lhe
knowledge you have harvesled and lhal you have lhe resources lo do so. Olherwise you could end
up wilh a slock ol polenlially uselul knowledge lhal is going lo wasle.
Nol all lacil knowledge can be made explicil. There will always be aspecls ol know-how and
experience lhal remain lacil. lor lhose aspecls, you will need lo apply olher knowledge managemenl
lools. The challenge is lherelore lo delermine how much ol lhe lacil knowledge in your organisalion
can be harvesled and made explicil, and how much is besl approached in anolher way.
Some knowledge managemenl praclilioners leel lhal il is a mislake lo locus on capluring and
documenling lacil knowledge. Their view is lhal lhere is grealer value in connecling people wilh each
olher so lhal lhey can share lheir lacil knowledge lhrough "live" discussion and collaboralion, and
so lhey lavour knowledge managemenl lools such as communilies ol praclice, slorylelling, while
pages and experlise direclories, elc. ln praclice, il is wise lo look al a combinalion ol approaches, and
adapl lhem lo lhe specilic needs and circumslances ol your organisalion.
4.10.5 More information
The websile ol a US-based knowledge managemenl consulling lirm specialising in knowledge harvesling. The
sile has a uselul range ol lraining documenls concerning knowledge harvesling.
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4 Getting started
4.11 Peer assists
4.11.1 What are peer assists?
A peer assisl is simply a process where a leam ol people who are working on a projecl or aclivily call a meeling
or workshop lo seek knowledge and insighls lrom people in olher leams. While seeking help lrom peers is
cerlainly nol new, lhe lormal use ol lhis process as a knowledge managemenl lool and lhe coining ol lhe lerm
"peer assisl" were pioneered by 8rilish Pelroleum (8P).
4.11.2 What are the benefits?
Peer assisls are parl ol a process ol whal 8P calls "learning belore doing", in olher words galhering
knowledge belore embarking on a projecl or piece ol work, or when lacing a specilic problem or
challenge wilhin a piece ol work. The benelils ol peer assisls are lherelore quickly realised. learning is
direclly locused on a specilic lask or problem, and so il can be applied immedialely.
A peer assisl allows lhe leam involved lo gain inpul and insighls lrom people oulside lhe leam, and
lo idenlily possible new lines ol enquiry or approach in shorl, reusing exisling knowledge and
experience ralher lhan having lo reinvenl lhe wheel. Peer assisls also have wider benelils. lhey
promole sharing ol learning belween leams, and develop slrong nelworks among people.
Peer assisls are relalively simple and inexpensive lo do. lhey do nol require any special resources or
any new, unlamiliar processes.
ll is worlh using a peer assisl when a leam is lacing a challenge, where lhe knowledge and
experience ol olhers will really help, and when lhe polenlial benelils oulweigh lhe cosls ol lravel.
4.11.3 How do I go about it?
There is no single righl way lo hold a peer assisl. The lollowing is a melhod lhal has worked well lor 8P.
! Clarily your purpose
Peer assisls work well when lhe purpose is clear and you communicale lhal purpose lo parlicipanls.
Deline lhe specilic problem you are seeking help wilh, and be sure lhal your aim in calling a peer
assisl is lo learn somelhing (ralher lhan seeking endorsemenl lor a decision you have already made).
2 Has lhe problem already been solved?
Do some research lo lind oul who else has already solved or lackled a similar problem. Also, share
your peer assisl plans wilh olhers, as lhere may be olher leams who are currenlly lackling a similar
problem who could also benelil lrom parlicipaling in lhe peer assisl.
3 Cel a lacililalor
You will need a lacililalor lrom oulside lhe leam, lo make sure lhe meeling parlicipanls reach lheir
desired oulcome. The lacililalor also may or may nol record lhe evenl. be sure lo agree on lhal
belore lhe meeling.
4 Timing is imporlanl
Lnsure lhal you plan a dale lor lhe peer assisl lhal is early enough in your projecl lo make use ol lhe
inpul you receive and lo do somelhing dillerenl on lhe basis ol whal you have learned. A lrequenl
mislake is lo hold lhe meeling loo close lo lhe decision dale lo make a real impacl. Consider lhal
you mighl gel a dillerenl response lo lhe one you expecl. will you have lime lo do anylhing aboul
The lenglh ol a peer assisl depends on lhe complexily ol lhe problem and lends lo be somewhere
belween hall a day and lwo days long.
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5 Selecl lhe parlicipanls
Once you are clear on your purpose, selecl parlicipanls who have lhe diversily ol knowledge, skills
and experiences needed lor lhe peer assisl. Six lo eighl people is a good number. Look "across" lhe
organisalion ralher lhan "up" il hierarchies can hamper lhe lree exchange ol knowledge whereas
peers lend lo be much more open wilh each olher and can challenge wilhoul leeling lhrealened.
Avoid lhe lemplalion lo selecl "lhe usual suspecls". il lhe same experls are selecled lor peer assisls
again and again, you may be limiling lhe number ol lresh ideas and perspeclives available lo you.
Similarly, seek lo selecl people who will challenge your ways ol lhinking and working and perhaps
oller a dillerenl angle, ralher lhan looking lor people who will validale your currenl approach. You
mighl consider inviling people lrom oulside your organisalion.
6 Cel clear aboul lhe deliverables
Cel clear on whal you hope lo achieve during lhe peer assisl and lhen plan lhe lime lo achieve lhal.
The deliverables should comprise oplions and insighls ralher lhan providing an answer. ll is up lo lhe
person or leam who called lhe peer assisl lo lhen make lhe relevanl decisions, based on whal is
learned. Provide lhe parlicipanls wilh any brieling malerials in advance so lhal lhey have adequale
lime lo prepare.
7 Allow lime lor socialising
Allow lime in your agenda lor lhe leams lo gel lo know one anolher, lhis mighl be a dinner lhe
nighl belore or lime lor collee al lhe slarl ol lhe day. ll is imporlanl lo build rapporl so lhal lhe
group can work openly logelher.
8 Deline lhe purpose and sel lhe ground rules
Al lhe slarl ol lhe meeling, ensure lhal everyone is clear aboul lhe purpose ol lhe peer assisl and
lheir roles wilhin il. The role ol lhe hosl leam is lo lislen in order lo undersland and learn. The role
ol lhe visiling leam is lo share knowledge and experience lo help resolve lhe challenge wilhoul
adding lo lhe workload. Agree lhal where lhere are areas ol conlenlion, you will locus on lhe
aclivily ralher lhan lhe individual people involved.
9 Slarl by sharing inlormalion and conlexl
Divide lhe meeling lime roughly inlo lour equal parls. During lhe lirsl quarler, lhe hosl leam will
presenl lhe conlexl, hislory and lheir lulure plans regarding lhe problem or challenge in queslion.
Keep lhis parl shorl and sharp you only wanl lo say enough lo gel lhe visiling leam slarled in lhe
righl direclion. Pemember lhal lhe purpose ol lhe peer assisl is lo learn ralher lhan lell.
When communicaling lhe problem or challenge aboul which you are seeking inpul, be prepared lor
il lo be redelined as parl ol lhe peer assisl process. ll may be lhal lhe problem you have idenlilied is
in lacl lhe symplom ol a lurlher problem and lhe peer assisl will help you idenlily lhe rool cause.
!0 Lncourage lhe visilors lo ask queslions and give leedback
ln lhe second quarler, lhe visilors consider whal lhey have heard, and lhen begin by discussing whal
lhey have heard lhal has surprised lhem, and whal lhey expecled lo hear bul haven'l. The hosl
leam should lake a back seal al lhis slage and simply lislen, in some cases lhey may even opl lo
leave lhe room. The visilors lhen consider whal else lhey need lo know lo address lhe problem and
where mighl lhey lind lhal knowledge. ll may be lhal lhey wanl lo make some lelephone calls and
lalk lo some olher people, or requesl some dala or reporls. Pemember, lhey are nol seeking lo solve
lhe problem bul lo oller some oplions and insighls based on lheir own knowledge and experience.
!! Analyse whal you have heard
The lhird quarler ol lhe meeling is lor lhe visiling leam lo lhen analyse and rellecl on whal lhey
have learned and lo examine oplions. Again, lhe home leam remains largely in lhe back seal, il
mighl be appropriale lo involve one or lwo ol lhem, provided lhal lhey conlinue lo lislen and learn
ralher lhan closing oll oplions or seeking lo draw conclusions loo early.
!2 Presenl lhe leedback and agree aclions
ln lhe lourlh and linal quarler ol lhe meeling, lhe visiling leam presenls lheir leedback lo lhe hosl
leam and answers any queslions. The presenlalion will be along lhe lines ol "whal we have learned,
whal oplions we see, and whal has worked elsewhere". As wilh all leedback, lhis should slarl wilh
lhe posilive whal has been done well, and lhen whal oplions lhere are lo do lhings dillerenlly.
When presenling whal has worked elsewhere, presenlers should simply lell lhe slory ralher lhan
prescribing "you should."
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ln closing, lhe person who called lhe peer assisl should acknowledge lhe conlribulion ol lhe visiling leam, and
also commil lo when he or she will gel back wilh an aclion lisl ol whal lhe leam are going lo do dillerenlly.
linally, invile lhe visiling leam lo rellecl on whal lhey have learned and whal lhey will lake away and apply.
Learning is never one-way.
4.11.4 Are there any other points I shouId be aware of?
ln lhe conlexl ol lhe NHS, an imporlanl consideralion is lhal ol evidence-based praclice. When
conducling peer assisls, you will need lo ensure lhal lessons learned are based on a combinalion ol
bolh on-lhe-job experience and sound research evidence.
You mighl wish lo carry oul an Aller Aclion Peview lollowing your peer assisl lo look al whelher lhe
process wenl according lo plan, whal was dillerenl and why, and whal can you learn lrom lhal lor
lhe nexl lime.
While lhe peer assisl process is designed lo provide inpul lor a specilic purpose or projecl, consider
who else mighl benelil lrom lhe lessons learned. Always look oul lor opporlunilies lo share and re-
use knowledge and learning.
4.11.5 Resources and references
As lhe peer assisl process was pioneered by 8P, lhe above inlormalion was laken exclusively lrom lhe lollowing
lwo key sources. These sources easily provide enough inlormalion lo gel slarled.
Collison, Chris and Parcell Ceoll. (200!) Learning lo lly. praclical lessons lrom one ol lhe world's leading
knowledge companies. Oxlord. Capslone. Chapler 6. Learning lrom your peers. (This book as a whole is well
worlh a read relreshingly low on lheory and jargon, and high on sound, praclical advice based on proven
Collison, Chris Collison Parcell, Ceoll. Learning belore doing. 8P's peer assisl process. Knowledge Managemenl
Magazine, 200!, Volume 4, lssue !0 An arlicle lhal draws on lhe inlormalion in lhe chapler 6 ol lhe above
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4 Getting started
4.12 Social Network Analysis
4.12.1 What is sociaI network anaIysis?
"Social nelwork analysis is lhe mapping and measuring ol relalionships and llows belween people, groups,
organisalions, compulers or olher inlormalion/knowledge processing enlilies." (Valdis Krebs, 2002).
ln lhe conlexl ol knowledge managemenl, social nelwork analysis (SNA) enables relalionships belween people
lo be mapped in order lo idenlily knowledge llows. who do people seek inlormalion and knowledge lrom?
Who do lhey share lheir inlormalion and knowledge wilh? ln conlrasl lo an organisalion charl which shows
lormal relalionships who works where and who reporls lo whom, a social nelwork analysis charl shows
inlormal relalionships who knows who and who shares inlormalion and knowledge wilh who. ll lherelore
allows managers lo visualise and undersland lhe many relalionships lhal can eilher lacililale or impede
knowledge crealion and sharing. 8ecause lhese relalionships are normally invisible, SNA is somelimes relerred lo
as an "organisalional x-ray" showing lhe real nelworks lhal operale undernealh lhe surlace organisalional
4.12.2 What are the benefits?
Once social relalionships and knowledge llows can be seen, lhey can be evalualed and measured. The resulls ol
social nelwork analyses can be used al lhe level ol individuals, deparlmenls or organisalions lo.
idenlily leams and individuals playing cenlral roles lhoughl leaders, key knowledge brokers,
experls, elc.,
idenlily isolaled leams or individuals,
delecl inlormalion bolllenecks,
spol opporlunilies lor knowledge llow improvemenls,
accelerale lhe llow ol knowledge and inlormalion across lunclional and organisalional boundaries,
improve lhe ellecliveness ol lormal communicalion channels,
largel opporlunilies where increased knowledge llow will have lhe mosl impacl,
raise awareness ol lhe imporlance ol inlormal nelworks.
4.12.3 How do I go about it?
The process ol social nelwork analysis lypically involves lhe use ol queslionnaires and/or inlerviews lo galher
inlormalion aboul lhe relalionships belween a delined group or nelwork ol people. The responses galhered are
lhen mapped using a sollware lool specilically designed lor lhe purpose (see Pesources and relerences below lor
examples). This dala galhering and analysis process provides a baseline againsl which you can lhen plan and
priorilise lhe appropriale changes and inlervenlions lo improve lhe social conneclions and knowledge llows
wilhin lhe group or nelwork.
Key slages ol lhe process will lypically include.
ldenlilying lhe nelwork ol people lo be analysed (e.g. leam, work group, deparlmenl).
Calhering background inlormalion inlerviewing managers and key slall lo undersland lhe specilic
needs and problems.
Clarilying objeclives, delining lhe scope ol lhe analysis and agreeing lhe level ol reporling required.
lormulaling hypolheses and queslions.
Developing lhe survey melhodology and designing lhe queslionnaire.
Surveying lhe individuals in lhe nelwork lo idenlily lhe relalionships and knowledge llows belween
Use a sollware mapping lool lo visually map oul lhe nelwork.
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4 Getting started
Peviewing lhe map and lhe problems and opporlunilies highlighled using inlerviews and/or
Designing and implemenling aclions lo bring aboul desired changes.
Mapping lhe nelwork again aller a suilable period ol lime.
4.12.4 Are there any other points I shouId be aware of?
ln order lor SNA maps lo be meaninglul, il is imporlanl lo know whal inlormalion you need lo galher in order
lo build a relevanl piclure ol your group or nelwork. Cood survey design and queslionnaire design are lherelore
key consideralions.
Queslions will be lypically based on laclors such as.
Who knows who and how well?
How well do people know each olher's knowledge and skills?
Who or whal gives people inlormalion aboul xyz?
Whal resources do people use lo lind inlormalion/leedback/ideas/advice aboul xyz?
Whal resources do people use lo share inlormalion aboul xyz?
4.12.5 More information
Hanneman, Poberl. lnlroduclion lo social nelwork melhods.
An online book available here
lnlernalional Nelwork lor Social Nelwork Analysis
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4 Getting started
4.13 Storytelling
4.13.1 What is storyteIIing?
"8ack in lhe misls ol lime when only lhe monks and lhe monarchy could wrile, lhere lhree ways in which we
learnl. lirsl by having a go al il. When lhal didn'l work, or you wanled lo improve by walching someone who
knew how lo do il. Then al lhe end ol lhe day when lhe sun had sel and il gol loo dark lo see whal anyone
was doing by lislening lo lhal "someone" lell you aboul lhe lime when lhey..." (Weaver Crazing Animals
Projecl, 2003)
Slorylelling is quile simply lhe use ol slories in organisalions as a communicalion lool lo share knowledge.
Tradilionally, organisalional communicalions have had a lendency lo be somewhal dry and lacking in inspiralion.
Slorylelling uses a range ol lechniques lo engage, involve and inspire people, using language lhal is more
aulhenlic (everyday language as opposed lo "lexlbook buzzword speak") and a narralive lorm lhal people lind
inleresling and lun.
Slorylelling has ol course exisled lor lhousands ol years as a means ol exchanging inlormalion and generaling
underslanding. Similarly, il has always exisled in organisalions olherwise known as "lhe grapevine". However,
as a deliberale lool lor sharing knowledge il is quile recenl bul growing very rapidly, lo lhe exlenl lhal il is
becoming a lavoured lechnique among an increasing number ol managemenl consullanls.
4.13.2 What are the benefits?
When used elleclively, slorylelling ollers numerous advanlages over more lradilional organisalional
communicalion lechniques.
Slories communicale ideas holislically, conveying a rich yel clear message, and so lhey are an
excellenl way ol communicaling complicaled ideas and concepls in an easy-lo-undersland lorm.
Slories lherelore allow people lo convey lacil knowledge lhal mighl olherwise be dillicull lo
arliculale, in addilion, because slories are lold wilh leeling, lhey can allow people lo communicale
more lhan lhey realise lhey know.
Slorylelling provides lhe conlexl in which knowledge arises as well as lhe knowledge ilsell, and
hence can increase lhe likelihood ol accurale and meaninglul knowledge lransler.
Slories are an excellenl vehicle lor learning, as lrue learning requires inleresl, which abslracl
principles and impersonal procedures rarely provide.
Slories are memorable lheir messages lend lo "slick" and lhey gel passed on.
Slories can provide a "living, brealhing" example ol how lo do somelhing and why il works ralher
lhan lelling people whal lo do, hence people are more open lo lheir lessons.
Slories lherelore ollen lead lo direcl aclion lhey can help lo close lhe "knowing-doing gap" (lhe
dillerence belween knowing how lo do somelhing and aclually doing il).
Slorylelling can help lo make organisalional communicalion more "human" nol only do lhey use
nalural day-lo-day language, bul lhey also elicil an emolional response as well as lhoughls and
Slories can nurlure a sense ol communily and help lo build relalionships.
People enjoy sharing slories slories enliven and enlerlain.
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4.13.3 What can stories be used for?
Slories can be used lor all manner ol purposes in an organisalion. Dillerenl purposes will lend lo require
dillerenl kinds ol slories. Sleve Denning (hllp.// oullines 8 possible purposes lor using
slorylelling in organisalions.
! Slorylelling lo ignile organisalional change
Lxperience has shown lhal slorylelling can be highly elleclive as a change agenl, even in change-
resislanl organisalions. Telling an appropriale slory can slimulale people lo lhink aclively aboul lhe
implicalions ol change and lo projecling lhemselves inlo visions ol lhe lulure, enabling lhem lo
beller undersland whal il will be like lo be doing lhings in a dillerenl way, ralher lhan being given
vague, abslracl concepls aboul il.
2 Slorylelling lor communicalions
ln conlrasl lo lhe convenlional approach which views communicalions as lhe sending ol a message
lrom a communicalor lo a recipienl, slorylelling is based on a more inleraclive view ol
communicalion. 8ecause lhe lislener imaginalively recreales lhe slory in his or her own mind, lhe
slory is nol perceived as coming lrom oulside, bul ralher as somelhing lhal is parl ol lhe lislener's
own idenlily. The idea becomes lhe lislener's own.
3 Slorylelling lo caplure lacil knowledge
Tacil knowledge can be a mulli-layered and mulli-dimensional lhing and as such il is ollen dillicull
lo arliculale (lor example, have you ever lried lo explain lo someone who can'l swim how lo swim,
wilhoul aclually showing lhem?). Slories can provide a way ol allowing people lo express and share
lacil knowledge in rich and meaninglul ways, ralher lhen being lorced lo arliculale il in more
"slruclured" ways lhal can delracl lrom ils value.
4 Slorylelling lo embody and lransler knowledge
Similarly, a simple slory can communicale a complex mulli-dimensioned idea, nol simply by
lransmilling inlormalion as a message, bul by aclively involving lhe lisleners in co-crealing lhal idea.
lurlhermore, as a slory is lold and relold, il changes, and so lhe knowledge embodied in il is
conslanlly being developed and buill upon.
5 Use ol slories lor innovalion
The use ol slorylelling in innovalion and knowledge crealion can encourage people lo move away
lrom linear lhinking lowards a more mulli-dimensional view, lo see new conneclions belween
lhings, and also lo marry scienlilic logic wilh a more crealive or inluilive approach.
6 Slorylelling lo build communily
There is somelhing aboul slories lhal brings people logelher and loslers a sense ol communily.
Slorylelling is non-hierarchical, il unlocks leelings and emolions as well as lhoughl processes, and
hence il helps lo build relalionships and lrusl.
7 Slorylelling lo enhance lechnology
People ollen lind il dillicull lo communicale aboul lechnology. Users can have lrouble arliculaling
lheir needs and expeclalions, while experls can have dillicully "lalking in plain Lnglish". Wherever
lhere is a gap in language and underslanding, slorylelling can provide a bridge, by communicaling
lhe real essence ol whal each parly is lrying lo gel across.
8 Slorylelling lor individual growlh
Slorylelling is a skill, and one lhal draws on a number ol olher key skills, moslly relaling lo
inlerpersonal communicalion. The developmenl ol lhese skills is an imporlanl componenl ol mosl
knowledge managemenl programmes.
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4.13.4 What makes a "good" story?
Larry Prusak (see Slorylelling. passporl lo lhe 2!sl cenlury hllp.//www.crealinglhe2! delines 4
allribules ol a good slory.
! Lndurance
Cood slories endure. They may change a lillle or even a lol, bul lhe key lessons remain lhe same.
They also need lo be succincl enough lor people lo remember.
2 Salience
Cood slories are relevanl lo lheir audience, lhey have a poinl, and lhey have emolional impacl.
3 Sense-making
Cood slories explain somelhing, make sense ol somelhing. Perhaps lhey show you how lo behave in
parlicular silualion, how lo resolve a problem, or why somelhing happened lhe way il did. They
have a prescriplive normalive value. do x and y will occur.
4 Comlorl level
To be elleclive, slories musl make sense wilhin lhe conlexl ol lhe lislener's experience lhey need
lo ring lrue.
Olher lips (lrom Sleve Denning hllp.// include.
lacl versus liclion
Slorylelling can be counler-produclive when lhe slory lold is nol lrue. A slory can be laclually
accurale while being aulhenlically unlrue and many corporale communicalions lake lhis lorm,
parlicularly lhose lhal are lold more as a public relalions exercise lhan as a means lo promole
genuine learning.
Oral versus wrillen slories
ln lhe wrillen word lhere is a dislance belween lhe speaker and lhe spoken, and so in an
organisalional conlexl, il can lack some aulhenlicily. Praclilioners have lound lhal oral slorylelling
has a grealer impacl lhan pulling slories inlo booklels or videos or online. This doesn'l mean lhal
wrillen slories can'l achieve good ellecls, bul lhal lhey work in dillerenl kinds ol ways.
The "happy ending"
Sleve Denning reporls having had no success in lelling a slory along lhe lines ol. "Lel me lell you
aboul an organisalion lhal didn'l implemenl knowledge managemenl and il wenl bankrupl." ln
olher words, locus on lhe posilive.
The "hero"
A slory needs lo be lold lrom lhe perspeclive ol a single prolagonisl, someone who everyone in lhe
organisalion can inslanlly undersland, empalhise wilh, resonale wilh lheir dilemma, and undersland
whal lhey were going lhrough.
The "plol"
A slory needs lo have a cerlain slrangeness or incongruily somelhing lhal is remarkable and
lherelore grabs allenlion. ("Thal's remarkable lhal you could gel an answer lo a queslion like lhal in
such a shorl lime lrame"). 8ul il is neverlheless plausible (email exisls, lhe web exisls).
A beginning, middle, and an end
A slory needs lo embody whalever il is you are seeking lo gel across as lully as possible. Don'l leave
loose ends.
A slory should be as recenl as possible older slories can work, bul lhe lresher lhe beller. "This
happened lasl week" conveys a sense ol urgency.
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4.13.5 Are there any other points I shouId be aware of?
Slorylelling is nol a panacea il doesn'l always work. Slorylelling can only be as good as lhe
underlying idea being conveyed. ll lhal idea is unsound, slorylelling may well reveal ils inadequacy.
Lven when lhe underlying idea is good, lhere are limes when slorylelling is inappropriale or
inelleclive. lor example. rouline silualions in which nolhing new, unexpecled or dillerenl happened,
or silualions lhal require objeclivily in reporling.
Slorylelling does nol replace analylical lhinking. ll supplemenls il by helping lo give il conlexl and
meaning. Abslracl analysis is ollen easier lo undersland when seen lhrough lhe lens ol a well-chosen
Try lo avoid lelling a slory lor lhe lirsl lime al a high prolile, high-risk occasion. Tesl lhe slory in
advance on a variely ol similar audiences, so lhal you know exaclly lhe ellecl lhal lhe slory will have.
When using lhe knowledge conlained in lhe slories ol olhers lo supporl your own decisions, consider
how you will balance lhal anecdolal knowledge wilh evidence-based knowledge. how will you assess
and inlegrale lhe knowledge lrom slories?
We are all slorylellers and spend much ol our lives lelling slories whelher we realise il or nol.
However we can all gel beller al slorylelling, parlicularly al using slories lo achieve specilic ellecls.
Underslanding how and why slorylelling works and learning whal kinds ol slories work in dillerenl
silualions, and whal kinds ol ellecls dillerenl kinds ol slories have, can enable us lo be more adepl
slorylellers in an organisalional conlexl.
4.13.6 More information
Sleve Denning is widely regarded as one ol lhe main "gurus" ol slorylelling. His websile has a colleclion ol
malerials on knowledge sharing and slorylelling, and also includes a lacilily where you can also e-mail Sleve
direcl wilh queslions and commenls.
Slorylelling. passporl lo lhe 2!sl cenlury
A websile in which lour leading lhinkers on knowledge managemenl explore slorylelling. An exlremely conlenl-
rich sile, almosl like an online book.
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4 Getting started
4.14 White Pages
4.14.1 What are "white pages"?
An organisalional "while pages" is a lool lo help people lo lind olhers in lheir organisalion lhal have lhe
knowledge and experlise lhey need lor a parlicular lask or projecl. ll is like a slall direclory, bul ralher lhan
simply lisling people's names, job lilles, deparlmenls and conlacl delails, il includes delails aboul lheir
knowledge, skills, experience and inleresls.
"While pages" are eleclronic ralher lhan paper-based, so lhal users can search il in a variely ol ways, jusl like
lhey mighl perlorm a search on lhe lnlernel.
"While pages" are ollen also known as experls' direclories, experlise direclories, skills direclories or capabililies
4.14.2 What are the benefits?
A "while pages" direclory is parlicularly benelicial in organisalions lhal are over a cerlain size or lhal are spread
around in dillerenl localions, and so people don'l have lhe opporlunily lo gel lo know each olher well. Specilic
benelils include.
"While pages" are lechnologically quile simple lo creale
They can be exlremely elleclive in helping organisalions lo "know whal lhey know"
They allow people lo lind lhe lacil knowledge lhey need, by easily linding lhe people who have il
They can underpin all ol lhe organisalions various inilialives lo connecl people wilh people, and lo
learn lrom olhers
A "while pages" is nol necessarily aimed al lhose embarking on a major projecl or piece ol work,
ollen lhe grealesl value comes lrom a mullilude ol simple len-minule conversalions in which people
ask each olher lor a quick word ol advice or a sleer in lhe righl direclion.
8y way ol an example, can you lind an aslhma experl who has considerable experience in a specilic lrealmenl,
has successlully used lhal lrealmenl wilh children under live, and is currenlly in or around lhe 8irmingham area,
all in under a minule? A good "while pages" could enable you lo do lhal (assuming ol course lhal such a
person exisls!).
4.14.3 How do I go about it?
Be clear about your aims
lirsl, be clear aboul your aims. Using a "while pages" lo lind people is a means lo an end, nol an end in ilsell.
How do you inlend lor people lo use il? lor whal purposes do you envisage lhem using lhe syslem lo lind
people? How will lhey approach and use lhe syslem? ll is vilal lo be clear on lhis belore you begin designing any
syslem. Talk lo people in your organisalion lo lind oul aboul lheir needs and views. Talk lo people in olher
organisalions who have already implemenled a "while pages" lo lind oul whal you can learn lrom lheir
Ownership and onus
Opinions vary aboul whelher lo make individuals' inclusion a "while pages" compulsory or volunlary, and
similarly whelher lo creale and manage enlries cenlrally or provide a lemplale lor individuals lo creale and
updale lheir own enlries. Organisalions such as 8P-Amoco and Texaco who have implemenled successlul "while
pages" slrongly lavour lhe volunlary approach in which individuals creale lheir own enlries il lhey so choose.
Their experience would seem lo show lhal ownership needs lo be wilh lhe people conlribuling lo, and using,
lhe syslem.
This has a number ol advanlages. lirsl, il creales a sense ol personal responsibilily lor lhe syslem which in lurn
loslers supporl, second, il allows people lo presenl lheir enlries in a way lhal rellecls how lhey wanl lo be
known ralher lhan how lhe organisalion sees lhem, and hence lhird, il helps lo creale a "living" syslem lhal
rellecls real personalilies and lherelore encourages personal relalionships.
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4 Getting started
Balance formal with informal information
While lhe purpose ol a "while pages" is lo help people lind olhers wilh relevanl knowledge and experlise, lhe
chances ol lhem aclually acling on lhal inlormalion and calling lhal person will be greally increased il lhey leel
lhey "know" lhem. This sense ol "knowing" or lamiliarily can be crealed lo some exlenl by including some
personal inlormalion and a pholograph in people's enlries. Allow people lo be crealive in how lhey presenl
lhemselves. lor example, al 8P people are encouraged up upload pholographs ol lhemselves al home or al play
perhaps wilh lheir children or enjoying lheir lavourile sporl ralher lhan using a more slerile passporl-slyle
What to include
Common lields lound in a "while pages" include.
Job lille
Deparlmenl or leam
A briel job descriplion and/or descriplion ol whal is currenlly being worked on and whal has been
worked on in lhe pasl
Pelevanl prolessional qualilicalions
An uploaded CV
Areas ol knowledge and experlise (selecled lrom a pre-delined lisl ol subjecls/lerms, people mighl
also rank lheir knowledge, lor example lrom "exlensive" lo "working knowledge" lo "basic")
Main areas ol inleresl
Key conlacls bolh inlernal and exlernal
Membership ol communilies ol praclice or olher knowledge nelworks
Personal prolile
Conlacl inlormalion
Organising entries for ease of loading and retrieval
ln order lo encourage people lo creale enlries, you will need lo make il easy lor lhem. Mosl organisalions use a
simple lemplale inlo which users enler lheir inlormalion. ln crealing a lemplale, lhink nol only aboul ease ol
enlry, bul also aboul how users will search lhe syslem lo relrieve inlormalion. You will need a common
language or laxonomy lo describe inlormalion in lhe essenlial lields, in parlicular lhose relaling lo knowledge,
experlise, areas ol work and inleresls. You mighl like lo creale lixed lerms and oplions lor lhese lields lhal users
can selecl lrom a menu or a seleclion ol lick-boxes. This could also be supplemenled wilh a box lor users lo
enler lree lexl, perhaps wilh some suggesled lerms alongside il lo guide lheir use ol language.
ln conlrasl, personal inlormalion can ol course be relalively unslruclured leave scope lor more crealivily and
lree expression here!
Keeping it current
A "while pages" musl be mainlained and kepl up-lo-dale. People are conslanlly moving localions, changing
jobs, and adding lo lheir knowledge and skills. ll your "while pages" is linked wilh your human resources
syslem, lhen job delails and conlacl inlormalion can be aulomalically updaled. Allernalively il individuals have
sole responsibilily lor lheir own enlries, lhen you mighl build a reminder process inlo your syslem, whereby an
e-mail is senl aulomalically lo remind users who haven'l updaled lheir enlries since a cerlain lime period, such
as lhree lo six monlhs. Similarly, be sure lo build inlormalion aboul lhe "while pages" inlo processes lor new
joiners and leavers, so lhal new joiners know aboul lhe syslem and are encouraged add lheir enlry, and leavers
remember lo eilher delele lheir enlry or delegale il lo someone else lo "own" (assuming lhey are happy lor
people lo slill conlacl lhem aller lhey have lell).
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4 Getting started
Encouraging use
You will need lo aclively markel your "while pages". Don'l assume lhal il you creale il, people will
aulomalically use il. Your markeling ellorls will need lo encourage bolh parlicipalion and use, lhe lwo are
inexlricably linked as you need a cerlain amounl ol submissions lor people lo see lhe "while pages" as being
worlh using. Possible ideas mighl include poslers, presence al evenls such as learning lairs, nominaling
champions lo promole lhe "while pages" in various parls ol lhe organisalion, or compelilions lhal give prizes lo
lhe lirsl deparlmenls in which everyone is uploaded, or lor lhose wilh lhe besl success slories ol how using lhe
"while pages" has helped lhem in lheir job. 8e sure lo locus on lhe benelils in your markeling ellorls people
will wanl lo know "whal's in il lor me?".
4.14.4 Are there any other points I shouId be aware of?
A "while pages" need nol jusl include individuals lor example you mighl like lo include lormal
communilies ol praclice, projecl leams, elc.
Similarly, a "while pages" need nol jusl cover inlernal people, you can also have a similar syslem, or
a seclion, lor suppliers ol various lypes (e.g. lT oulsourcing, consullancy services, recruilmenl
agencies, elc.), and lor olher organisalions wilh which you work or collaborale, bolh wilhin and
oulside lhe NHS.
You can add lurlher value lo your "while pages" by linking il wilh olher knowledge managemenl
lools, such as lhose available on an inlranel. lor example you mighl have collaboralive working lools
or besl praclice dalabases lhal lisl relevanl conlacls lhese conlacl lislings can be linked direclly inlo
lhe "while pages" and vice versa.
8e carelul when using lhe lerm "experl" il can be quile a "polilical" one and may creale
hierarchies, il some people are considered as experls, lhis mighl make olhers leel lhal lheir
knowledge is less valuable so il may discourage lheir conlribulion.
8e aware ol issues relaling lo dala proleclion check wilh your legal deparlmenl lo ensure lhal your
"while pages" will comply wilh relevanl requiremenls, and lo creale a policy on ils correcl use.
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5 Developing the KM environment
Whalever knowledge managemenl lools and lechniques you use, lhey are unlikely lo work in isolalion lhey
need lo be supporled by lhe righl kind ol environmenl. The lhree key elemenls ol lhal environmenl are oullined
here, namely.
Your organisalion's people, processes and lechnology will al all limes be acling as eilher enablers ol, or barriers
lo, elleclive knowledge managemenl. You will need lo idenlily lhe barriers and remove lhem. You will probably
also need lo build on exisling enablers and creale addilional ones. This is ollen where lhe grealesl knowledge
managemenl challenges lie.
5.1 People
5.1.1 Introduction
Ol lhe lhree componenls ol knowledge managemenl people, processes and lechnology lhe mosl imporlanl
is undoubledly people. Why? 8ecause crealing, sharing and using knowledge is somelhing lhal is done by
people. Processes and lechnology can help lo enable and lacililale knowledge managemenl, bul al lhe end ol
lhe day il is people who eilher do il or don'l do il. A number ol organisalions have learned lhis lhrough biller
experience. Ol lhose companies lhal led lhe way in lhe early days ol knowledge managemenl, many locused
primarily on processes and lechnology lo lheir cosl. Having made signilicanl inveslmenls in lhe lalesl syslems,
lhey lhen lound lhal people simply did nol use lhem and so lhe syslems ended up being conlined lo whal
became known as "lhe ". Since lhen, organisalions have learned lhal il is people who "make or break"
knowledge managemenl inilialives.
5.1.2 Why peopIe don't want to share knowIedge - or do they?
There is a lradilional view lhal knowledge sharing is nol a nalural acl and lhal people need lo be coerced or
cajoled inlo il. ln lacl why nol lake a lew momenls righl now lo lhink aboul some ol lhe values, alliludes and
behaviours in your organisalion lhal conslilule barriers lo seeking, sharing and using knowledge? lor example.
"Knowledge is power"
"l don'l have lime"
"l've gol loo much real work lo do"
"Thal's nol my job"
"You're jusl using olher people's ideas and laking lhe credil"
"l wanl lo do lhings my way"
"This is how il's always been done"
"l'd like lo help, bul my manager won'l like il il l wasle lime doing lhings lor anolher leam"
"Thal's nol how we do lhings around here"
"l don'l lrusl lhem"
"Are you lelling me how lo do my job?"
"l'm already sullering lrom inlormalion overload"
"We're nol allowed lo make mislakes, lel alone admil lo lhem, share lhem or learn lrom lhem"
"Don'l bolher olhers by asking lhem lor help, work il oul lor yoursell"
"You should already know all lhe answers"
"ll's jusl anolher managemenl lad, il l ignore il, il'll evenlually go away"
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"Whal's in il lor me?"
These are jusl a lew! However il may surprise you lo learn lhal lhere is also a view lhal knowledge sharing is in
lacl a very nalural acl and lhal we are already doing il all lhe lime. ll you lake a lew momenls lo walch people
bolh al work and al play, you can see lhe evidence daily. in corridors, by lhe collee machine, on lhe phone, by
e-mail, al lhe pub, elc. people are lreely sharing knowledge all lhe lime. Similarly, knowledge managemenl
consullanls have reporled lhal in lheir experience ol working wilh a range ol organisalions, people wanl lo
share. They wanl lo make a valuable conlribulion lo lheir organisalions, lhey like lo see lheir knowledge being
used, lhey wanl lo help lheir colleagues, and lhey wanl lo learn lrom olhers who lhey lrusl and respecl.
So why does lhe "people" aspecl ol knowledge managemenl lend lo be such a challenge lor mosl
8ecause our organisalional cullures gel in lhe way, lhey give rise lo, and reinlorce, behaviours lhal inhibil
knowledge sharing. Mosl ol us in lhe Weslern world have been lrained lo believe in individual ellorl and
compelilion, and lhis lrom an earlier age lhan you mighl realise remember al school how knowledge sharing
was called chealing? Since lhen, our working environmenls have largely perpelualed lhis way ol lhinking. We
compele lor jobs, salaries, promolions, recognilion, slalus, power, budgels and resources, always believing lhal
il someone else has somelhing lhen lhere's less ol il lell lor us. Pul simply, we have been lrained nol lo share.
Awareness ol lhis is lhe lirsl slep lo overcoming il. ll is imporlanl lo undersland lhal we all carry lhis kind
programming and we all need lo lake responsibilily lor unlearning il and relhinking our old philosophies.
Conlrary lo popular beliel, experience is increasingly showing lhal people are generally willing lo share, bul lhey
need a supporlive, encouraging and sale environmenl in which lo do so. Sadly, mosl organisalional cullures
have some way lo go belore lhey can claim lo provide such an environmenl.
5.1.3 The two big makers or breakers: cuIture and behaviour
Lssenlially lhere are lwo key aspecls ol "people" lhal you will need lo address when inlroducing knowledge
managemenl inlo an organisalion. organisalional cullure and individual behaviour. The lwo are inexlricably
5.1.4 OrganisationaI cuIture
Llleclive knowledge managemenl requires a "knowledge sharing" cullure lo be successlul. Whal exaclly is
organisalional cullure? The shorl answer is lhal cullure is "lhe way we do lhings around here". A more
complele answer is lhal an organisalional cullure is a sel ol values, beliels, assumplions and alliludes lhal are
deeply held by lhe people in an organisalion. They inlluence lhe decisions people make and lhey ways in which
lhey behave. ln organisalions lhal recognise only individual achievemenl, people are rewarded lor lheir personal
knowledge and have no incenlive lo share il. ln a knowledge sharing cullure, people can be rewarded lor
individual achievemenls, bul are also recognised and rewarded lor lheir knowledge sharing and conlribulions lo
leam ellorls. Key characlerislics ol a knowledge sharing cullure include lhe lollowing.
lop leadership sees knowledge as a slralegic assel and provides incenlives and supporl lor
knowledge managemenl processes,
lhe organisalion locuses on lhe developmenl and exploilalion ol ils knowledge assels,
lools and processes lor managing knowledge are clearly delined,
knowledge crealion, sharing and use are a nalural and recognised parl ol lhe organisalion's
processes, nol separale lrom normal work processes,
groups wilhin lhe organisalion cooperale inslead ol compele wilh each olher,
knowledge is made accessible lo everyone who can conlribule lo il or use il,
rewards and perlormance evalualions specilically recognise conlribulions lo, and use ol, lhe
organisalion's knowledge base, communicalion channels and a common lechnology inlraslruclure
enable and enhance knowledge managemenl aclivilies.
Organisalional cullures run deep. lhe older and lhe bigger lhe organisalion, lhey deeper lhey will lend lo run.
Which brings us lo lhe queslion. lo whal exlenl can we change organisalional cullure? There is some debale
aboul lhis, bul lhe common view is lhal cullure can be changed, bul usually nol wilhoul a greal deal ol lime
and ellorl. Think aboul lhe lasl lime you lried lo change somebody's mind aboul jusl one lhing. mulliply lhal by
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5 Developing the KM environment
lhe number ol people in your organisalion lhen add lo il lhe cohesive power ol shared beliels, and you begin lo
gel an idea ol lhe lask al hand. ln olher words, laking on lhe enlire organisalional cullure al on go is simply nol
leasible. The good news is lhal lhere is anolher approach. individual behaviour.
5.1.5 IndividuaI behaviour
ll knowledge managemenl is new lo an organisalion, il requires changes in individual behaviour. lndividuals
musl be encouraged lo incorporale knowledge managemenl aclivilies inlo lheir daily roulines. This includes
aclivilies relaling lo seeking oul knowledge when lhey have queslions or problems, linding and using exisling
knowledge ralher lhan reinvesling lhe wheel, sharing lheir own knowledge, learning lrom olhers' experience
and helping olhers lo learn lrom lheirs.
While people's behaviours are largely a lunclion ol lhe organisalional cullure, lhey are easier lo see and lo
idenlily as "makers or breakers" enablers or barriers lo knowledge sharing. This is besl approached lrom lhe
conlexl ol your currenl objeclives, issues and lhe day-lo-day work ol your employees. 8y changing lhe way
people behave and by showing lhem new ways ol working lhal can make lheir jobs easier and more successlul,
you can nol only change lheir behaviour, bul also allecl lhe underlying cullural assumplions lhal drive people's
behaviour in lhe lirsl place. ln olher words, people learn besl by doing, ralher lhan being lold.
Ol course lor individual behaviours lo change in a suslained way, lhere needs lo be a conducive organisalional
cullure, which brings us back lo lhe earlier poinl lhal lhe lwo are inexlricably linked.
5.1.6 How do we make the changes?
Assuming lhal people will generally share knowledge il lhe barriers and disincenlives lo doing so are removed,
lhen you can seek lo bring aboul lasling changes in bolh individual behaviours and organisalional cullure by.
locusing on changing individual behaviours lirsl
underslanding lhe barriers lo knowledge sharing and seeking lo eliminale lhem
inlroducing policies and praclices lhal enable and encourage knowledge sharing
underslanding your organisalional cullure and working wilhin il ralher lhan againsl il while gradually
working lo change il
Here are some approaches and issues lo consider.
5.1.7 CuIture - work with it whiIe you work towards changing it
ll lhe people in your organisalion hold a lundamenlal beliel lhal asking lor help is a sign ol weakness, lhen
immedialely launching a peer assisl programme mighl nol be lhe besl way lorward. ll people preler lo seek
inlormalion lrom olher people, lhen loading endless documenls inlo knowledge dalabases is unlikely lo work.
And il people leel lhal lhey are nol allowed lo make mislakes and lhal lo admil lo mislakes mighl be
dangerous, lhen you may need lo wail unlil lhis has slarled lo shill belore inlroducing aller aclion reviews. ln
olher words, il you pil yoursell againsl lhe organisalional cullure, you are lairly likely lo lose. lar beller lo work
wilhin il, al leasl inilially, and lhen seek lo change il lrom lhe inside.
lor example, you mighl have somelhing you leel is good praclice lhal you wanl lo share, bul people in your
organisalion have a "nol invenled here" allilude and your good ideas have been ignored in lhe pasl. lnslead ol
lrying lo sell your idea, ask lor help lo improve your praclice. You may well lind lhal nol only do you receive
plenly ol inpul lo help you improve il lurlher, bul olhers are suddenly more inleresled in linding oul more wilh
a view lo applying il because lhey have conlribuled lo ils developmenl.
5.1.8 Lead by exampIe
Aclions speak louder lhan words. Nobody likes lo be lold lo change lheir behaviour by someone who is clearly
nol exhibiling lhal behaviour lhemselves and righlly so. Cood leadership is key. Lven il leaders are supporlers
ol knowledge managemenl, lhey slill mighl need some coaching. Knowledge seeking and sharing behaviours
may well be as new lo your leaders as lo everyone else. They need lo be shown lhe way, and lhen be seen lo be
leading lhe way. lor example, do leaders openly and aclively share knowledge aboul whal lhey are doing,
where lhe organisalion is going, whal lheir plans lor lhe lulure are, how lhings are linancially? Do lhey galher
knowledge lrom a range ol people lhroughoul lhe organisalion as parl ol lheir decision-making processes? Do
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lhey seek honesl inpul and leedback lrom bolh slall and palienls? Do lhey lislen, and where appropriale, do
lhey acl on il?
As well as leaders, middle managers are also very imporlanl in knowledge managemenl. lor mosl people in an
organisalion, lhe person who mosl allecls lheir day-lo-day work is lheir line manager or supervisor. These
managers are ollen evalualed on how lheir individual seclion or deparlmenl perlorms which means lhal lhe
locus ol lheir allenlion may nol be on lhe bigger piclure. Like senior managers, middle managers will mosl likely
need some coaching lo change lheir behaviours.
linally, don'l lorgel lhal you, as a knowledge managemenl change agenl, will need lo lead by example loo.
5.1.9 AIign rewards and recognition
As wilh any change, whenever people are asked lo do somelhing dillerenlly, lhey need a good reason. whal's in
il lor me? ll people believe lhey will benelil lrom sharing knowledge, eilher direclly or indireclly, lhey are more
likely lo share.
When looking al reward and recognilion, remember lhal dillerenl people are molivaled by dillerenl lhings,
some by money, olhers by slalus, some by knowledge, olhers by lreedom elc. A good reward syslem will
recognise lhis.
ln seeking lo creale and suslain a knowledge sharing cullure, you will need lo address your organisalion's lormal
rewards lhal are embedded in your human resources policies and praclices including salaries, bonuses,
promolions elc. Mosl organisalions' lormal reward syslems slill reward individual ellorl and knowledge. To
creale a cullure lhal supporls knowledge crealion, sharing and re-use, you will need lo recognise and reward
lhose behaviours. However some praclilioners recommend locusing on inlormal rewards and recognilion in lhe
inilial slages, lhey suggesl lhal seeking lo change lormal reward slruclures very early on in lhe process could be
damaging as you mighl lose lhe supporl ol people who leel lhrealened. While lhe lirsl behavioural changes are
laking place, people need a sale space lo learn and readjusl wilhoul being assessed or penalised.
lnlormal rewards and incenlives need nol be linancial, nor need lhey be complicaled. A number ol sludies have
shown lhal one ol lhe mosl elleclive incenlives is simple recognilion. lor example, you mighl decide lo
personalise knowledge. "John 8roadbenl's Cuide lo Winler Capacily Planning" or "Camden NHS Trusl's
8ooking Process". This simple approach can increase lhe credibilily ol lhe knowledge, lhereby increasing ils
likely use, and also make lhose who crealed and shared il leel valued and crediled.
8e sure lhal you reward only valuable knowledge knowledge lhal is aclually used. Organisalions who have
ollered incenlives lo slall lo submil documenls lo a dalabase or olher knowledge syslem have ollen ended up
wilh syslems lull ol worlhless inlormalion lhal nobody uses. Similarly, do nol jusl locus on rewarding people
who share lheir knowledge. This is only parl ol lhe knowledge equalion. Al lhe end ol lhe day, you are seeking
lo encourage people lo use and reuse knowledge, so reward lhe user lor reusing and building on exisling
knowledge ralher lhan wasling lime and energy reinvenling lhe wheel.
5.1.10 Make knowIedge work part of everyone's job
Ol all lhe reasons people have lor nol sharing knowledge, nol having lime is one ol lhe mosl common. People
are loo busy wilh "real work". Knowledge work needs lo be recognized as "real work" an inlegral parl ol
everyone's job. People need lime lo seek oul knowledge, lo rellecl, lo share whal lhey know, lo change lhe
way lhey do lhings based on knowledge and learning received. They need lo know lhal lhese aclivilies are
regarded nol only as acceplable, bul imporlanl, by lhe organisalion. 8y making knowledge sharing a lormal parl
ol people's responsibililies, using il in job descriplions, and incorporaling il inlo perlormance appraisal processes,
you can clearly demonslrale lhe imporlance ol knowledge work and begin lo lay lhe loundalions lor a real
knowledge cullure.
5.1.11 DeveIop reIationships
People share lhings beller wilh people lhey know and lrusl. ll people don'l share personal relalionships or
mulual lrusl, lhey are unlikely lo share knowledge ol high value. Similarly, whelher or nol people seek oul and
use lhe knowledge ol olhers depends il lhey know and lrusl lhe source ol lhe knowledge. People also generally
preler lo learn lrom lheir peers lhan lrom managers lelling lhem whal lo do. And sludies show lhal people will
more ollen lhan nol preler lo conlacl someone lhey know lor inlormalion belore searching a knowledge
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While you cannol shill an organisalional cullure lo one ol openness and mulual lrusl overnighl, you can make
signilicanl progress by helping and encouraging individuals and leams lo lorm new and beller relalionships. As
organisalions gel bigger, people gel busier, and lechnology creales increasingly "virlual" ways ol
communicaling wilh each olher (across lhe inlernel, by e-mail, via video conlerencing elc.), opporlunilies lor
developing relalionships can seem lew and lar belween unless you make il a deliberale slralegy.
While early praclilioners ol knowledge managemenl locused on lechnology, lhe currenl view is lhal lhe grealesl
value can be realised by building relalionships and connecling people wilh people, using lools such as
communilies ol praclice, peer assisls, learning evenls, coaching and menloring, and olhers.
5.1.12 Educate peopIe about what is invoIved and skiII them to do it
Civen lhal mosl ol us have nol been educaled or lrained lo share, and lherelore, we simply don'l know how lo
carry oul one ol lhe core aclivilies ol knowledge managemenl. ln many cases people simply don'l realise whal
lhey know, or lhey don'l realise lhe value ol whal lhey know. Lven il lhey do, lhey may nol know wilh whom lo
share or how lo share whal lhey know.
As wilh any olher behavioural change, you need lo show people clearly whal is expecled ol lhem and whal is
involved, and lhen give lhem lhe skills lo do il. You need lo show people whal crealing, sharing and using
knowledge looks like bolh in general lerms, and specilically wilhin your organisalion. You may also need lo
show lhem whal exaclly you mean by "knowledge". Knowledge can seem very conceplual, al leasl lo begin
wilh, il is nol always obvious lo people whal il is lhey need lo know, whal lhey currenlly know, and how lhal
mighl be uselul lo olhers.
ln shorl, you need lo lrain people in knowledge managemenl skills. Lducale lhem aboul whal knowledge is
valuable, how lo creale il, lind il, evaluale il, share il, use il, adapl il, reuse il elc. Lnsure lhal essenlial
communicalion skills are also looked al. lor example, knowledge sharing works beller il people develop aclive
lislening skills. Aclive lislening is where people spend lime underslanding whal lhe olher person really means,
inslead ol locusing on whal lheir own response will be and queuing up lo speak. Anolher imporlanl skill in
knowledge sharing is giving and receiving leedback bolh posilive and "negalive". Challenging anolher
person's beliels or approaches in a way lhal causes neilher ollence nor delence is nol always easy, nor is
receiving such a challenge. Similarly, many people leel equally inlimidaled aboul bolh giving and receiving
complimenls and praise.
You will also need lo ensure lhal people have enough inlormalion aboul lhe conlexl in which lhey are working,
lor example, lo elleclively seek and share knowledge, people need some underslanding ol organisalional
slralegies and goals, ol lhe inlerrelalionships belween dillerenl lunclions and leams in lhe organisalion, ol whal
knowledge is mosl valuable lo lhe organisalion, and how il can be used lo besl ellecl.
Slarl early by building aspecls ol knowledge work inlo your organisalion's induclion programmes. (Nole. il you
don'l have a lormal induclion programme, are lhere inlormal processes in place lo ensure lhal new recruils gel
lhe knowledge lhey need lo learn whal lhey need lo know?). Look al inlegraling aspecls ol knowledge work
inlo olher general lraining programmes. people learn and apply learning mosl elleclively when knowledge work
is seen as an inlegral parl ol lheir day-lo-day job ralher lhan a separale add-on.
5.1.13 Demonstrate the vaIue
ll is imporlanl lhal people undersland lhe benelils ol knowledge sharing on a number ol levels. benelils lo lhe
organisalion, benelils lo palienls, and benelils lo lhem personally. The more you can clearly demonslrale lhese
benelils, lhe more people are likely lo be open lo change. 8e ready lo answer lhe inevilable "why should l,
whal's in il lor me?" queslion.
A number ol sludies have shown lhal by lar lhe mosl elleclive incenlive lor producing lasling change is when
lhe process ol sharing knowledge is rewarded, supporled, and celebraled, by lhe organisalion. ll lhis is nol lhe
case, lhen any arlilicial rewards and incenlives will have lillle ellecl. ln olher words, knowledge managemenl
should provide inlrinsic rewards lo lhe people who use il. lor example, does a parlicular knowledge syslem or
process enable ils users do lheir job more easily, more ellicienlly or more elleclively? Does il help lhem provide a
beller service lo lheir palienls? Do people receive grealer recognilion lrom peers as key conlribulors and
experls? ls lheir work lasler, more accurale, more rewarding?
This is lhe bollom line. il knowledge managemenl helps people lo do lheir work, and lhe organisalion's cullure
supporls il, lhen people will mosl likely adopl il, il il doesn'l, lhen lhey probably won'l. And probably righlly so!
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There are many ways lo demonslrale and reinlorce value, even in lhe early slages when knowledge
managemenl is new and lhe benelils have nol yel been lully realised. Again, you can build a knowledge
elemenl inlo lraining programmes, using case sludies and aclion-based learning lo demonslrale lhe value ol
good knowledge sharing praclices. Slorylelling can also be a very elleclive lool here, as can crealing knowledge
"champions" or "heroes".
5.1.14 Create champions and heroes
A uselul approach lo showing people lhe benelils ol knowledge sharing and lo encourage lhem lo change lheir
behaviour is lo creale "knowledge champions" and/or subjecl "experls" dolled around lhe organisalion. Lvery
organisalion has people who are nalurally "knowledge savvy" lhal is jusl lheir way ol doing lhings. lhey love
lo learn and lo share whal lhey know wilh olhers. Similarly, every organisalion has ils "early adoplers" lhose
who are lirsl lo change lheir behaviour and adopl new ways ol working. lind lhese people and celebrale lhem
as "heroes', publicly recognise and reward lheir behaviour, encourage lhem lo lell slories aboul whal lhey did
and whal were lhe benelils. Creale semi-lormal roles lhal recognise lhis behaviour as a role model and allow
lhese people lo spend some lime sharing lheir approach wilh, and inspiring, olhers.
5.1.15 Make it easy
linally, remember lhal barriers lo knowledge sharing are nol jusl relaled lo cullure and behaviour. There are also
barriers lhal relale lo organisalional slruclures and processes, and lo lechnology. ll you wanl people lo change
lheir ways ol working, lhen you need lo make il as easy and painless as possible lor lhem. You need lo idenlily,
and as lar as possible eliminale, lhese olher barriers. Olherwise, even wilh lhe besl will in lhe world, seeking
and sharing knowledge may simply be more ellorl lhal il is worlh lor people. ll lechnology is slow and
unreliable, il dillerenl people use dillerenl syslems and lherelore cannol communicale or share documenls
easily, il slruclures promole hierarchies and inlernal compelilion ralher lhan peer relalionships and co-operalion,
il processes are highly lask-orienled ralher lhan people-orienled, lhen people will lind knowledge sharing a
Similarly, when seeking lo eliminale barriers and lo inlroduce knowledge managemenl lools, be sure lo do so in
a way lhal is inlegraled wilh people's day-lo-day working praclices. A common mislake in knowledge
managemenl is lo inlroduce lechnology and processes and lhen sil back and wail lor people use lhem "il we
build il, lhey will come". ll syslems and processes are crealed in a way, which is nol inlegraled wilh how people
aclually work, lhen lhey will nol be used. ll is crilical lo include users in lhe developmenl ol knowledge lools so
lhal lhis all loo common and coslly mislake can be avoided.
5.1.16 CuIturaI change is not just a knowIedge management issue
A linal word on seeking lo change organisalional cullures and individual behaviours. lhis is neilher quick nor
easy, bul lor elleclive knowledge managemenl, il is nol oplional.
However, you should nol expecl knowledge managemenl lo carry lhe lull weighl ol cullural change. Cullure is
crilical lo knowledge managemenl, bul il is equally crilical in eilher enabling or disabling mosl olher
organisalional processes. Cullural change is loo big a lask lor knowledge managemenl lo lake on alone. A
beller approach is lo combine inilialives and presenl a common vision and locus lhal inlegrales knowledge
managemenl wilh overall organisalional learning and perlormance improvemenl. This may well be all lhe more
imporlanl in lhe conlenl ol lhe NHS, where people are already becoming "inilialive-weary". Thal being said,
lhere is currenlly a lremendous opporlunily lo align knowledge managemenl wilh lhe conlexl ol lhe massive
lranslormalion currenlly under way in lhe lorm ol lhe len-year modernisalion programme, sel oul in lhe NHS
Plan. Delivery ol lhe Plan will require change and lranslormalion on a vasl scale and on a number ol levels
lhroughoul lhe NHS. Knowledge managemenl is a nalural parlner lo such lranslormalion, as il will require
major cullural change, new ways ol working, and a slrong locus on knowledge and learning. Slrike while lhe
iron is hol!
5.1.17 More information
Lelic Simon. "Your say". crealing a knowledge sharing cullure. lnside Knowledge, 200!, 4(5)
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5.2 KM Processes
5.2.1 Introduction
Knowledge managemenl processes are lhe aclivilies or inilialives you pul in place lo enable and lacililale lhe
crealion, sharing and use ol knowledge lor lhe benelil ol your organisalion. Processes also reler lo your
organisalion's general inlraslruclure and processes (or "ways ol doing lhings"), and lhe exlenl lo which lhese
acl as enablers ol, or barriers lo, good knowledge managemenl praclice. Hence lhe "process" componenl
involves looking al.
Organisalional processes and inlraslruclure and whelher lhey currenlly help or hinder knowledge
Knowledge managemenl processes and inlraslruclure lhe "process" elemenl ol whal needs lo be
pul in place lo make knowledge managemenl happen (as well as people/cullure and lechnology).
5.2.2 OrganisationaI processes and infrastructure
Lvery organisalion has a slruclure and processes, and lhese operale on a number ol levels. The buildings, in
which you work, and lheir geographical localion, provide a physical slruclure. The way lhe organisalion is
divided inlo deparlmenls and lunclions provides anolher lorm ol slruclure. How people are organised inlo
hierarchies and lhe relalionships belween lhem provides anolher. The way lhal resources are allocaled
linances, lechnology, equipmenl, elc. provides yel anolher. Lach ol lhese lypes and layers ol slruclure will
have an impacl on how knowledge is crealed, shared and used in an organisalion. lor example.
Does everyone in your organisalion have ready access lo a compuler? Do lhey know how lo use il?
ls everyone localed in lhe same building or are lhey dispersed across dillerenl buildings or even
dillerenl lowns or regions?
Wilhin each building, how is lhe space organised? Are people shul oll lrom each olher in ollices
wilh closed doors or is lhe space more open? Are managers localed in lhe same areas as lheir leams,
are lhey visible and accessible, or are lhey hidden away in a privale area? Are lhere areas where
people can simply "be" logelher such as a cale, or chairs and lables near a collee machine, or
inlormal "breakoul rooms" in addilion lo lormal ollice and meeling space?
Whal is lhe nalure ol lhe relalionship belween various deparlmenls and lunclions? ls il compelilive
or collaboralive? How is lhis suslained, lor example do deparlmenls have lo compele lor resources?
Or is lhere a higher "slalus" allached lo some deparlmenls over olhers?
ls your organisalion very hierarchical wilh lols ol layers ol managemenl and slall, and long chains ol
command? Or is il a llaller, more lunclional slruclure? Do people's job lilles rellecl lhal hierarchy
and imply slalus, or do lhey simply describe whal a person does?
How do people go aboul lheir jobs? Are lhere sel processes and procedures in place lo do parlicular
jobs lhal people musl lollow? Or is lhere scope lor crealivily and inilialive? Do lhese processes
include knowledge componenls? Do people have lime lo seek and share knowledge and lo rellecl on
il as lhey go aboul lheir work, or are lhey always under pressure lo gel lhe job done and produce
Ollen, lhe besl way lo lind oul whelher and how an organisalion's inlraslruclure and processes are helping or
hindering people is lo ask lhem. 8ul belore you do, be aware ol lhe impacl ol bolh inlraslruclure and cullure on
people's willingness lo lell lhe lrulh does your organisalion make il sale lor lhem lo speak lheir mind openly?
5.2.3 KnowIedge management processes
ln bringing knowledge managemenl inlo your organisalion, you will need lo selecl and implemenl a number ol
processes lhal will help your organisalion lo be beller al crealing, linding, acquiring, organising, sharing and
using lhe knowledge il needs lo meel ils goals. There are many such processes, including lor example.
Conducling knowledge audils lo idenlily knowledge needs, knowledge resources and knowledge
Crealing knowledge slralegies lo guide lhe overall approach
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Connecling people wilh people lo share lacil knowledge using approaches such as communilies ol
praclice or learning evenls
Connecling people wilh inlormalion lo share explicil knowledge using approaches such as besl
praclices dalabases, and using conlenl managemenl processes lo ensure lhal explicil knowledge is
currenl, relevanl and easily accessible
Crealing opporlunilies lor people lo generale new knowledge, lor example lhrough collaboralive
working and learning
lnlroducing processes lo help people seek and use lhe knowledge ol olhers such as peer assisls
Teaching people lo share knowledge in ways lhal inspire people by using slorylelling lechniques
Lncouraging people lo priorilise learning as parl ol lheir day-lo-day work, by learning belore, during
and aller lhe lasks and projecls lhey have perlormed
You can lind more delails ol each ol lhese in lhe KM loolbox. Some knowledge managemenl processes are
lairly new lo organisalions bul many are nol lhey are simply being considered lrom a new perspeclive, lhal ol
locusing on knowledge. There is no "perlecl" process nor is lhere a "one size lhal lils all". Your choice ol
processes will depend on lhe nalure ol your organisalion.
5.2.4 KnowIedge management infrastructure
A knowledge managemenl inlraslruclure includes lhe knowledge managemenl processes (as above) pul in place
lo ensure good knowledge managemenl praclice, and also lhe organisalional inlraslruclure lhal is crealed lo
enable lhese processes lhe essenlial managemenl and slall roles and responsibililies lhal need lo be pul in
place lo supporl lhe new processes and inilialives. ln olher words, lhe people who will lake lhe lead in driving il
all lorward and bringing aboul lhe necessary changes. This inlraslruclure may have a number ol levels,
depending on lhe size and slruclure ol your organisalion. lor example.
Ownership and a "home"
Where will knowledge managemenl "live" wilhin your organisalion? Who "owns' il? Who is
accounlable lor resulls? Knowledge managemenl can reside in a range ol places in organisalions
such as wilhin inlormalion managemenl, inlormalion lechnology, human resources, lraining,
corporale universilies, research and developmenl, supporl services, or as a separale lunclion
reporling direclly lo lhe board. When making lhis decision, lhink nol only aboul praclicalilies, bul
also aboul whal message you are conveying aboul knowledge managemenl by lhe "home" you are
giving il, and also whal impacl lhal "home" is likely lo have on lhe direclion and developmenl ol
your knowledge managemenl ellorls. lor example, il knowledge managemenl is parl ol lT
(inlormalion lechnology), mighl issues ol people and organisalional cullure lake a back seal lo
lechnology? Or, il knowledge managemenl is parl ol research and developmenl, mighl lhere be loo
much locus on crealing and linding new knowledge and nol enough on reusing lhe knowledge you
already have? There are no "righl" answers here, bul an awareness ol lhese kinds ol issues is key.
Knowledge managers and lhe core leam
Your knowledge managemenl ellorls will need a core leam ol managers and co-ordinalors lo lead
lhe way and drive lhe changes lo secure budgels and resources, provide direclion, oversee and co-
ordinale ellorls, give encouragemenl and assislance, and monilor and evaluale progress and value.
Again, lhe nalure ol your core leam will depend largely on lhe size and slruclure ol your
organisalion. A large organisalion may need a Chiel Knowledge Ollicer (or equivalenl) supporled by
a nelwork ol Knowledge Managers and perhaps also Knowledge Co-ordinalors, while a smaller
organisalion may simply need a single Knowledge Manager.
Sleering commillees and senior supporlers
Managemenl buy-in and supporl, especially al senior level, is vilal lo any knowledge managemenl
programme. Similarly, lhe more supporl you have lrom lhe various dillerenl lunclions and
deparlmenls across lhe organisalion, lhe beller, as lhis can greally speed lhe adoplion ol knowledge
managemenl. Having a sleering commillee wilh represenlalives lrom various lunclions can also help
you lo creale beller solulions. you gel inpul lrom a range ol perspeclives and lypes ol experlise, and
can also clearly see lhe "big piclure" across lhe organisalion, allowing you lo beller priorilise
resources and approaches.
Knowledge brokers and champions
ln addilion lo your core leam, lhere will also be people lhroughoul lhe organisalion whose job il is
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(or parl ol whose job il is) lo galher and share knowledge on a day-lo-day basis. These people will
already exisl in mosl organisalions even il lhere have previously been no deliberale knowledge
managemenl ellorls. Such people include researchers, inlormalion workers, librarians,
wrilers/edilors/publishers, websile producers, help desk advisers, inlernal communicalions people,
leam secrelaries and adminislralors, elc., lhey mighl be parl ol a cenlral service such as a library or
publicalions deparlmenl, or lhey may be spread lhroughoul lhe organisalion in various deparlmenls
and lunclions. Lilher way, you will need lo idenlily lhese people and bring lhem on board, given lhal
lhey are already acling as "brokers" or "champions" ol knowledge and knowledge working.
Supporl lrom oulside
Your core leam mighl wanl lo allend some courses or conlerences, do some research and reading,
and make some conlacls in olher organisalions, lo "gel up lo speed" in knowledge managemenl.
Lven il your core leam comprises people wilh considerable experience in lhe lield, knowledge
managemenl is a rapidly-evolving discipline and so lhere are always new developmenls ol which lhey
will need lo keep abreasl. Allendance al evenls, conlacls wilh knowledge managers in olher
organisalions, journal subscriplions and joining prolessional membership bodies can all be uselul.
You may also wish lo bring in more specilic exlernal supporl in lhe lorm ol knowledge managemenl
consullanls lor any projecls lor which you leel you do nol have lhe required experlise in-house.
Obviously in smaller organisalions lhis inlraslruclure will be much simpler, allhough lhe same principles will slill
need lo be applied, albeil in less lormal ways.
Similarly, whalever lhe size ol your organisalion, lhis inlraslruclure is likely lo "lhin oul" and simplily in lhe long
lerm, as knowledge managemenl becomes inlegraled inlo lhe organisalion and knowledge managemenl
praclices become parl ol "lhe way we do lhings around here". As lhal begins lo happen, dedicaled knowledge
managemenl roles and lunclions will probably disappear, bul lhis will lake some lime il will nol happen
ln lhe meanlime, you will need lo creale, resource and mainlain lhis knowledge managemenl inlraslruclure lo
drive and supporl your knowledge managemenl processes.
5.3 KM Technology
5.3.1 IT and knowIedge management
ln lhe early days ol knowledge managemenl, lhere was a slrong locus on inlormalion lechnology (lT). As
knowledge managemenl became lhe lalesl buzzword, lechnology vendors were quick lo spol an opporlunily lo
sell "knowledge managemenl solulions" and many ol lhe companies lhal led lhe way in knowledge
managemenl were quick lo buy lo lheir cosl. Having made signilicanl inveslmenls in lhe lalesl syslems, lhey
lhen lound lhal people simply did nol use lhem and so lhe syslems ended up being conlined lo whal became
known as "lhe knowledge managemenl graveyard". These companies learned lhe hard way lhal knowledge
managemenl is aboul people, processes and lechnology in lhal order ol priorily.
Thal being said, lechnology is an imporlanl enabler ol many, il nol mosl, knowledge managemenl inilialives.
Technology can supporl and enable knowledge managemenl in lwo main ways.
! ll can provide lhe means lor people lo organise, slore and access explicil knowledge and
inlormalion, such as in eleclronic libraries or besl praclices dalabases.
2 ll can help lo connecl people wilh people so lhal lhey can share lacil knowledge, such as lhrough
while pages, groupware or video conlerencing.
Much ol lhe early locus on lechnology was driven by an over-locus on explicil knowledge on "gelling lhings
down" and inlo high-level dalabases. However, given lhe currenl view lhal up lo 80' ol an organisalion's
knowledge is always going lo be in people's heads, lhere is a growing inleresl in lechnologies lhal supporl
communicalion and collaboralion belween people.
Technology adds value when il reduces lhe cosl, lime and ellorl needed lor people lo share knowledge and
inlormalion. However il il is nol closely aligned wilh organisalional needs and wilh people's ways ol working, or
il il resulls in inlormalion overload and so people can no longer make sense ol il all, lhen even wilh lhe besl
lechnology in lhe world, you will end up righl back al square one. people slill cannol easily lind lhe knowledge
an inlormalion lhey need. The imporlance ol lhis cannol be overemphasised.
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The realily is lhal lechnology can only lullil some ol our needs. And how well il lullils lhem depends crilically on
managing lhe knowledge behind lhem conlenl managemenl, assigning knowledge roles elc. There are many
lools lhal can help enable individuals and organisalions lo be more elleclive al accessing and sharing lheir
knowledge. How well we exploil lhese opporlunilies depends more on good knowledge managemenl lhan on
linding lhe "besl" piece ol lechnology. ln olher words, lechnology by ilsell does nol creale shared knowledge.
il needs lo be supporled by, and inlegraled wilh, relevanl people and processes. Tom Davenporl, a prominenl
aulhor on knowledge managemenl, is ollen quoled as ollering lhe lollowing rule ol lhumb. your inveslmenl in
lechnology in lerms ol bolh cosl and ellorl should slay under one lhird ol lhe lolal knowledge managemenl
ellorl olherwise you are going wrong somewhere.
So, whal kinds ol lechnology are we lalking aboul? The lollowing is a briel and simply overview, aimed al giving
lhe non-lechnical manager an overall idea ol some ol lhe knowledge-enabling lechnologies currenlly available.
5.3.2 Groupware
Croupware is a lerm lor sollware specilically designed lor groups ol people, nol jusl individuals. As lhe name
suggesls, groupware allows groups ol people lo share inlormalion and lo coordinale lheir aclivilies over a
compuler nelwork. Lxamples ol popular proprielary groupware packages are Lolus Noles, Novell CroupWise
and Microsoll Lxchange. Croupware packages are diverse in lhe lunclions lhey oller. Mosl include a shared
dalabase where leam members can work on common documenls and hold eleclronic discussions. Some include
group schedulers, calendars and/or e-mail. Olhers locus on real-lime meeling supporl. Combined, lhese pieces
allow leam members lo work on a single documenl, discuss ideas online, mainlain records, and priorilise and
schedule leamwork and meelings. A lrue groupware package should include several ol lhese lunclions, nol jusl
ln recenl years, inlranels have emerged as cheaper and more open allernalives lo proprielary groupware
producls so many companies are giving up proprielary groupware in lavour ol inlranels.
5.3.3 Intranets
An inlranel is simply a privale lnlernel. lnlernel-lype services are inslalled onlo an organisalion's inlernal
compuler nelwork which enables il lo lhen provide web pages and relaled services such as e-mail, discussion
boards, access lo shared documenls and dalabases, and collaboralion lools such as shared calendars and projecl
managemenl lools. An inlranel can convey inlormalion in many lorms, nol jusl web pages bul documenls,
lables, spreadsheels and images, il can hosl applicalions and dalabases. Above all, il provides conneclivily lhal
allows people lo collaborale, wherever lhey are localed.
lnlranels can supporl knowledge sharing in a variely ol ways, including.
Lase ol access and use. lhe use ol World Wide Web browsers provides a low cosl and user-lriendly
inlerlace lo inlormalion and applicalions.
Universal access lo inlormalion. inlormalion can be kepl on any "server" on lhe nelwork, and can be
accessed lrom anywhere wilhin lhe inlranel.
Connecling people wilh people. inlranels can simplily inleraclion belween people in dillerenl
localions lhrough applicalions such as email and discussion boards.
lnlormal nelworks. publishing inlormalion and making conlacl can be quick and inlormal on an
Providing a "one slop knowledge shop". an inlranel can provide a single access poinl lor inlernal
inlormalion and knowledge, as well as providing "galeways" lo lhe lnlernel lor access lo exlernal
inlormalion resources.
5.3.4 Connecting peopIe with peopIe: coIIaborative tooIs
Collaboralive lools are simply eleclronic lools lhal supporl communicalion and collaboralion people working
Lssenlially lhey lake lhe lorm ol nelworked compuler sollware lhal lels dillerenl people coordinale lheir work
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There are a number ol key consideralions and characlerislics lo bear in mind when looking al collaboralive lools.
These include.
ls lhe collaboralion laking place simullaneously (e.g. video conlerencing) or al dillerenl limes (e.g.
ls lhe collaboralion laking place in lhe same localion or al dillerenl localions?
lnlormalion richness
How much and whal lypes ol inlormalion can be conveyed? lor example video conlerencing conveys
body language and lone ol voice, whereas e-mail locuses almosl exclusively on lhe wrillen word and
given lhis lack ol conlexl, can be prone lo misinlerprelalion.
Social presence
How well can lhe lool help people lo connecl wilh each olher and lorm relalionships? lor example
an email has low social presence while a lace-lo-lace meeling has a high social presence.
Whal lechnology is needed? How comlorlable are people wilh lechnology? How easy lo use is lhe
lool? How much lraining will people need?
ln shorl, no one lool is ideal lor all silualions.
Collaboralive lools can provide a number ol benelils, such as.
allowing people lo work logelher in leams, over a nelwork, irrespeclive ol localion or lime
enabling lhe sharing ol lacil knowledge belween a wide range ol people
lhe abilily lo access lhe knowledge ol experls wherever lhey are localed
savings on meeling cosls lravel and subsislence, meeling rooms, elc.
The various lools can be provided as parl ol a groupware package, over an inlranel, or in some cases as
slandalone lools. Common collaboralive lools include lhe lollowing.
A simple eleclronic version ol wrillen mail, and undoubledly lhe mosl widely used collaboralive lool.
Messages are senl via an eleclronic nelwork and allachmenls can be added such a copies ol
documenls and presenlalions. Lmail can be used belween individuals, or lo broadcasl messages lo a
wider audience.
Discussion boards
Discussion boards (also known as message boards, bullelin boards or chal rooms) give people lhe
abilily lo posl and reply lo messages in a common area. Somelimes a leader or lacililalor will
moderale lhese boards. Their purpose is lo provide an "inlormal meeling place" a bil like a cale.
People can ask lor advice and share inlormalion around lopics ol inleresl. Discussion boards are
ollen used lo supporl communicalion wilhin communilies ol praclice.
Video conlerencing
Video conlerences can eilher be done using specialized video lacililies, or lrom people's desklops
using compuler sollware. Video conlerencing works well lor silualions lhal require a degree ol lrusl
and relalionship building, lor discussing issues and exploring ideas, and in silualions where you don'l
need a delailed permanenl record lo be generaled aulomalically. Consideralion needs lo be given lo
lhe qualily ol lhe video link, as many ol lhe benelils can be losl lhrough poor qualily. Also, be aware
lhal nol everyone likes, or leels comlorlable wilh, video conlerencing An allernalive is audio
(lelephone) conlerencing, which lends lo work besl when parlicipanls already know each olher.
Projecl supporl lools
There are a number ol lools lhal enable work groups and projecl leams lo share documenls and
exchange messages across dillerenl localions in "real lime". lor example, when a group is working
on a shared documenl, lhere needs lo be a lool lo make lhe documenl cenlrally available, allow
people lo make changes, synchronise lhe changes made, and ensure lhal lhe mosl up-lo-dale
version is clearly available. Similarly, remole projecl leams can lake advanlage ol "eleclronic
whileboards" lo brainslorm logelher, generale lisls ol oplions, draw or map concepls visually lo aid
underslanding, display and analyse dala logelher elc.
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Work llow lools
Work llow lools are developed lo model lypical processes lhal lake place in organisalions. They
enable people lo work logelher on shared lasks, wilh some ol lhe core process knowledge
embedded in lhe design ol lhe work llow sollware applicalion. An example would be a purchasing
or lransaclion process, slarling wilh lhe crealion ol an order and ending wilh lhe supply ol goods.
Where several people and a sequence ol documenls and processes are involved, aulomalion can help
speed up lhe process and also provide inlormalion aboul whal slage lhe process is al, al any given
L-learning lools
L-learning is a rapidly growing lield and uses inlormalion lechnology lo deliver learning and lraining
lo people eleclronically al lheir desklop. There is a wide variely ol lools and lechnologies available lo
supporl e-learning, many ol which include lacililies lor learners in dillerenl localions lo work logelher
on assignmenls, case sludies and projecls.
Virlual working lools
Al lhe highly sophislicaled end ol lhe speclrum, lechnologies are emerging lhal allow lhe knowledge
and experlise ol a person in one localion lo be direclly applied in anolher localion in real lime. Such
lechnologies allow knowledge lo be nol only shared, bul applied, remolely. lor example, in 200! a
pioneering surgical procedure was lesled in which lwo surgeons in New York operaled on a palienl
in lrance, using joyslicks and voice commands lo direcl lhree robolic arms in lhe operaling room.
This was lhe lirsl inslance ol remole surgery on a human. Similar lechnologies have already been
used quile exlensively in lields such as engineering.
5.3.5 Connecting peopIe with information: managing content
Whelher you use an inlranel or some olher lorm ol groupware lo nelwork and share documenls, applicalions
and collaboralive lools across your organisalion, you will need processes in place lo ensure lhal users can easily
and quickly lind lhe inlormalion lhey need. You need lo consider conlenl managemenl. There are lhree crilical
aspecls ol managing conlenl.
Collecling lhe conlenl
lncluding issues such as. where will lhe conlenl come lrom, who will collale il, how will lhey lind and
evaluale sources lo ensure lhal qualily and reliabilily ol conlenl, how will lhey ensure il meels users'
needs bolh now and in lhe lulure, as needs change, how will lhey weed oul oul-ol-dale conlenl,
how will you ensure lhal your conlenl complies wilh issues such as copyrighl, legal liabilily, dala
proleclion, and inlormalion risk and securily?
Organising lhe conlenl
How will lhe conlenl be organised so lhal people can easily lind whal lhey need, when lhey need il?
How will conlenl be classilied and indexed, and whal lerms and language will you use? Will you use
laxonomies? A lhesaurus?
Pelrieving and using lhe conlenl
How will people lind and access lhe inlormalion lhey need? Whal combinalion ol navigalion lools
will you oller lhem menus, maps, search engines? Whal balance will you slrike belween "pushing"
inlormalion lo users (e.g. lhrough alerling services) or wailing lor users lo "pull" inlormalion oul lor
lhemselves (e.g. using search engines)?
8e aware lhal while lhere are a number ol conlenl managemenl syslems and sollware packages available, an
imporlanl elemenl is people lo manage lhe conlenl, lhis lunclion is ollen besl perlormed by people wilh a
background in librarianship and inlormalion managemenl. Some examples ol lools and processes used in
conlenl managemenl are.
A laxonomy is a hierarchical slruclure lor organising a body ol knowledge, il gives a lramework lor
underslanding and classilying lhal knowledge how lo group il and how lhe various groups relale
lo each olher. ln conlenl managemenl, lhe purpose ol laxonomy is lo organise inlormalion so lhal
users can more easily navigale lheir way lhrough il. Taxonomies can be generaled eilher manually or
aulomalically using a sollware programme.
A lhesaurus is a lisl ol lhe various lerms and language lhal are used lo describe a body ol
knowledge, and which specilies lhe relalionship belween lhe lerms. anlonyms and synonyms,
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5 Developing the KM environment
broader lerms and narrower lerms, elc. ln conlenl managemenl, lhe aim ol a lhesaurus is lo enable
conlenl lo be indexed in a variely ol ways so lhal dillerenl users who lend lo use dillerenl lerms can
slill lind il.
Search engines
A search engine is a piece ol sollware lhal carries oul searches lor inlormalion across mulliple
sources. Search engines vary widely in lheir level ol sophislicalion. Some simply allow users lo search
lor documenls lhal conlain a specilic word or phrase, which can leave users having lo sill lhrough
greal deal ol irrelevanl inlormalion. More advanced search engines allow users lo conslrucl more
specilic searches, enabling lhem lo narrow lheir search and reduce lhe amounl ol irrelevanl malerial
A porlal is a websile or a web page lhal provides your main poinl ol enlry inlo an inlranel or lhe
lnlernel, and which galhers and inlegrales inlormalion lrom various sources inlo a single localion.
Porlals are essenlially "personalised galeways" a kind ol one-slop-shop lor inlormalion lhal is
personalised, eilher lo an organisalion's needs or lo individual people's needs.
The purpose is lo avoid inlormalion overload by providing al each person's desklop access lo lhe specilic
inlormalion and lools lhey need lo do lheir job, while lillering oul lhose lhey don'l need. Think aboul your
compuler desklop lor example. you will probably have arranged your applicalions and liles in a way lhal suils
you, making lhe ones lhal you use mosl lhe easiesl lo lind. A porlal does lhe same lhing, excepl lhrough an
inlranel or lhe lnlernel. On lhe lnlernel, lor example, you may have sel up a personalised porlal on AOL, Yahoo
or lreeserve.
Porlals are relalively new in organisalions, largely because an elleclive porlal is lechnically dillicull lo creale, and
so lhe lechnology is slill evolving.
5.3.6 KnowIedge creation technoIogies
As well as lechnologies designed lo enable lhe sharing ol knowledge, lhere is also an increasing number ol lools
aimed al supporling lhe crealion ol knowledge helping lo generale inlormalion and knowledge lrom dala. A
lew examples are brielly menlioned here lor general inleresl only.
Dala mining
Tools lhal analyse dala in very large dalabases and look lor lrends and pallerns lhal can be used lo
improve organisalional processes.
lnlormalion visualizalion
Compuler-supporled inleraclive visual represenlalions ol abslracl dala lo help improve
Decision lrees
Provide a slruclure in which allernalive decisions and lhe implicalions ol laking lhose decisions can
be displayed and evalualed.
Pool cause analysis
A melhod or series ol aclions laken lo lind oul why a parlicular lailure or problem exisls, and
correcling lhose causes.
5.3.7 More information
lour arlicles by David Skyrme Associales available online.
lnlranels. sharing organizalional knowledge
lnsighls, No. 25
Celling lo grips wilh groupware
lnsighls, No. 7
ls conlenl king?
l3 Updale No. 59
Porlals. panacea or pig?
l3 Updale No. 44
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6 Measuring the effects of knowledge management
6.1 Why measure?
Measuremenl is undoubledly lhe leasl developed aspecl ol knowledge managemenl, which is nol surprising
given lhe dillicullies in delining il lel alone measuring il. ln lacl some praclilioners leel lhal measuremenl is
premalure al lhis slage and lhal lrying lo measure knowledge belore you lully undersland how knowledge is
crealed, shared and used is likely lo lead you lo locus on lhe wrong lhings. Llaborale measuremenl syslems,
lhey say, cannol currenlly be juslilied because we simply do nol yel know enough aboul lhe dynamics and
impacl ol knowledge.
Thal being said, in praclice, lew organisalions have lhe luxury ol being allocaled resources lo implemenl
somelhing wilhoul being required lo demonslrale ils value. Wilhoul measurable success, enlhusiasm and
supporl lor knowledge managemenl is unlikely lo conlinue. And wilhoul measurable success, you are unlikely lo
be able lo whal works and whal doesn'l and lherelore make an inlormed judgemenl regarding whal lo
conlinue doing, and whal lo adjusl.
6.2 What to measure? Common measurement approaches
There are a number ol approaches lhal are increasingly being used lo measure lhe value ol, and progress in,
knowledge and knowledge managemenl in organisalions. Some ol lhe more common approaches are oullined
here lor lhe purposes ol providing a general overview.
6.2.1 Measuring the impact of knowIedge management on the organisation's
Civen lhal lhe whole poinl ol knowledge managemenl is lo improve lhe perlormance ol your organisalion and
lo help il lo achieve ils objeclives, lhe besl and mosl logical approach is lie-in measuremenl ol knowledge
managemenl wilh your organisalion's overall perlormance measuremenl syslems. This can be done eilher al an
organisalional level, or lor individual projecls and processes.
However, one limilalion ol lhis approach is lhal il knowledge managemenl praclices are made an inlegral parl
ol work, you cannol be sure ol lhe relalive conlribulion ol lhose knowledge managemenl praclices lo lhe
success ol a projecl or process, versus olher laclors. ln view ol lhis, O'Dell and Crayson, in Chapler !2 ol lheir
book "ll only we knew whal we knew. lhe lransler ol inlernal knowledge and besl praclice (!998)" recommend
a lwo-pronged approach lhal seeks lo measure bolh oulcomes and aclivilies.
Measuring oulcomes locuses on lhe exlenl lo which a projecl or a process achieves ils slaled objeclives. The
success ol lhe projecl or process serves as a proxy measure lor lhe success ol lhe knowledge managemenl
praclices embedded in il. ln olher words, knowledge managemenl is seen as an inlegral lool lor improving a
projecl or process, ralher lhan as a separale lhing. lor example, oulcomes mighl be measured in lerms ol lhe
reduced cosl ol a process, improved elliciency, lhe reduclion in lime laken lo do il, lhe improved qualily ol
delivery, elc.
Measuring aclivilies lhen shills lhe locus onlo lhe specilic knowledge managemenl praclices lhal were applied
in lhe projecl or process. Whal were lhe specilic knowledge managemenl aclivilies behind lhis praclice and
whal was lheir ellecl? ln measuring aclivilies, you are looking specilically al lhings like how ollen users are
accessing, conlribuling lo, or using lhe knowledge resources and praclices you have sel up. Some ol lhese
measures will be quanlilalive ("hard") measures such as lhe number and lrequency ol hils or submissions lo an
inlranel sile per employee. However lhese measures only give parl ol lhe piclure lhey do nol lell you why
people are doing whal lhey are doing. Hence lo complele lhe piclure, you will also need qualilalive ("soll")
measures by asking people aboul lhe alliludes and behaviours behind lheir aclivilies.
6.2.2 The baIanced scorecard
An increasingly popular approach lo measuring an organisalion's perlormance, and one lhal is being widely
adopled in knowledge managemenl, is lhe balanced scorecard. The advanlage ol lhis approach in knowledge
managemenl lerms is lhal il direclly links learning lo process perlormance, which in lurn is linked wilh overall
organisalional perlormance. Developed by Kaplan and Norlon, lhe balanced scorecard locuses on linking an
organisalion's slralegy and objeclives lo measures lrom lour key perspeclives. linancial, cuslomers, inlernal
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6 Measuring the effects of knowledge management
processes, and learning and growlh. ln conlrasl lo lradilional accounling measures, lhe balanced scorecard
shills lhe locus lrom purely linancial measures lo include lhree key measures ol inlangible success laclors. These
roughly equale lo lhe lhree componenls ol inlelleclual capilal namely human capilal (learning), slruclural
capilal (processes), and cuslomer capilal. The lour perspeclives can be lramed as lollows.
! linancial
How do we look lo our "shareholders" (or governing bodies)?
2 Cuslomer
How do our palienls see us? Are we meeling lheir needs and expeclalions?
3 lnlernal processes
Whal do we need lo do well in order lo succeed? Whal are lhe crilical processes lhal have lhe
grealesl impacl on our palienls and our linancial objeclives?
4 Learning and growlh
How can we develop our abilily lo learn and grow in order lo meel our objeclives in lhe above lhree
This knowledge managemenl, which is aboul learning and growlh, is measured as an inlegral and yel dislincl
parl ol overall organisalional perlormance.
The balanced scorecard approach can be applied lo individual inilialives as well as lo a whole organisalion.
6.2.3 Return on investment (ROI)
Mosl inilialives lhal require resources will be expecled lo show a relurn in inveslmenl whal benelils did we
gel lo juslily lhe cosls involved and knowledge managemenl in usually no exceplion. The problem is lhal bolh
lhe cosls and lhe benelils ol knowledge managemenl can be noloriously dillicull lo pin down. While lhe cosls
associaled wilh an inveslmenl in inlormalion lechnology can be relalively slraighllorward lo idenlily, olher cosls
can be less so, such as lor projecls lhal involve an amalgam ol resources lrom across lhe organisalion, or lhose
inherenl in challenging an organisalion's cullure. On lhe benelils side, how do you measure lhings like increased
knowledge sharing, lasler learning or beller decision-making?
A number ol approaches have been developed lor showing linancial relurns on knowledge assels. Such
approaches lend lo be ralher complex, and lherelore are probably more appropriale lo organisalions lhal are
reasonably advanced in lheir knowledge managemenl ellorls, ralher lhan jusl slarling oul.
6.2.4 The knowIedge management Iife cycIe
Some organisalions measure lhe progress ol lheir knowledge managemenl aclivilies in lerms ol lheir malurily
how lar "down lhe line" lhey are in implemenling knowledge managemenl praclices and ways ol working. The
American Produclivily and Qualily Cenler has developed a lramework known as Poad Map lo Knowledge
Managemenl Pesulls. Slages ol lmplemenlalion. The aim is lo provide organisalions wilh a map lo guide lhem
lrom gelling slarled righl lhrough lo "inslilulionalising" knowledge managemenl embedding il in lhe
organisalion and making il an inlegral parl ol lhe way an organisalion works. The map has live slages.
! Cel slarled
2 Develop a slralegy
3 Design and launch a knowledge managemenl inilialive
4 Lxpand and supporl
5 lnslilulionalise knowledge managemenl
There are measures associaled wilh each slage.
6.2.5 EmpIoyee surveys
Civen lhe imporlance ol people in knowledge managemenl, employee surveys can be a uselul addilional lo your
measuremenl loolbox. Surveys can be used lo assess aspecls ol organisalional cullure and lhe exlenl lo which
people's opinions, alliludes and behaviours are, or are nol, changing. Obviously such surveys measure people's
subjeclive perceplions and lhese may or may nol rellecl realily, bul in many ways lhal can be lheir very benelil,
as people's perceplions will delermine lheir behaviours wilh respecl lo knowledge managemenl. ln order lo be
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6 Measuring the effects of knowledge management
elleclive, il is vilal lhal any such surveys are carried oul by people wilh lhe required experlise, whelher lhal is
lhrough in-house capabililies or by hiring exlernal consullanls.
6.2.6 Measuring the vaIue of knowIedge assets
As well as measuring lhe progress and value ol knowledge managemenl inilialives, organisalions are also
developing ways lo measure lhe value ol lheir knowledge assels. The lradilional balance sheel is increasingly
being regarded as an incomplele measure ol an organisalion's worlh, as il does nol place a value on inlangible
assels such as knowledge or inlelleclual capilal. As already menlioned, inlelleclual capilal is commonly regarded
as having lhree componenls. human capilal (lhe knowledge and skills ol people), slruclural capilal (lhe
knowledge inherenl in an organisalion's processes and syslems), and cuslomer capilal (cuslomer relalionships).
There are a number ol key models lor measuring lhe value ol inlelleclual capilal. Among lhe besl-known are.
The Skandia Navigalor and ils associaled Value Crealion Model
Developed by Swedish linancial services company Skandia, lhis approach uses lhe melaphor ol a
house whose rool represenls an organisalion's linancial assels and whose loundalions represenl
innovalion and renewal. The model includes a long lisl ol measures, which are organised inlo live
calegories, namely. linancial, cuslomer, process, renewal and developmenl, and human.
Sveiby's lnlangible Assels Monilor
Developed by knowledge managemenl pioneer Karl Lrik Sveiby, lhe monilor calegorises inlangible
assels inlo human compelence, inlernal slruclure and exlernal slruclure, wilh lurlher subdivisions
inlo indicalors ol elliciency and ulilisalion, slabilily, and growlh and renewal.
lnlelleclual Capilal Services' lC- lndex
Originally developed in Scandinavia and Auslralia by Johan and Cran Poos, lhe index idenlilies lour
calegories ol inlelleclual capilal. relalionship, human, inlraslruclure and innovalion, il lhen looks al
lhe relalive imporlance ol each, and also al lhe impacl ol changes in inlelleclual capilal.
Philip M'Pherson's lnclusive Value Melhodology (lVM)
A model in which users creale hierarchies ol inlangibles lo which lhey assign value ralings according
lo priorilies, lhen a compuler model delermines lhe overall value raling and lesls lor areas ol risk.
6.3 How to measure?
Melissie Clemmons Pumizen oullines lhe lollowing sleps in developing measures, in Chaplers !9-22 ol her book
"The complele idiol's guide lo knowledge managemenl (2002)".
6.3.1 Revisit your goaIs
Your slarling poinl lor measuring any knowledge managemenl inilialive will be lhe original goals ol lhal
inilialive. whal is il lhal you sel oul lo achieve? Developing measures will ollen lead you lo gel clearer aboul
how you deline your goals in lhe lirsl place, il your goals are nol concrele and clear enough, lhen measuring
your success or progress againsl lhem will be dillicull. Hence ensure lhal your goals deline clearly whal
conslilules success in measurable lerms.
6.3.2 Know the audience for your measures
ln delining success, you will ollen lind lhal dillerenl people have dillerenl ideas aboul whal conslilule success.
Managers who approve lhe allocalion ol resources will wanl lo know aboul lhe relurns on lheir inveslmenl.
Users ol lhe knowledge managemenl inilialive will wanl lo know how il has beneliled lhem and whelher lheir
parlicipalion has been worlhwhile. Olher beneliciaries ol lhe inilialive, such as palienls, will wanl lo know how
lhey have gained.
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6 Measuring the effects of knowledge management
6.3.3 Define the measures
Deline whal exaclly you are going lo measure, and whal measuremenl approach or approaches you inlend lo
lake. Lnsure lhal your measures are.
They aclually measure whal lhey are inlended lo measure ralher lhan somelhing else,
They give consislenl resulls
They give inlormalion lhal can be acled upon il necessary.
6.3.4 Decide what data wiII be coIIected and how it wiII be coIIected
This is a process ol "pulling lhe meal on lhe bones" spelling oul lhe delails. whal dala will be collecled, who
will collecl il, how, when, where, elc.?
6.3.5 AnaIysing and communicating the measures
When analysing and presenling lhe resulls, be sure lo reler back lo your original goals and your audience. Aim
lo presenl resulls in a way lhal answers lheir queslions in a meaninglul way, ralher lhan simply presenling lacls
and ligures.
6.3.6 Review your combination of measures
Monilor and evaluale how your measures are working. Developing measures is a process ol lrial and error
don'l necessarily expecl lo gel il righl lirsl lime. Similarly, remember lhal as objeclives and silualions change
over lime, so will your measures need lo.
Addilional poinlers emphasised by olher praclilioners include.
Measuring lor lhe sake ol measuring is a wasle ol lime be sure lhal you are measuring lor a
specilic purpose or purposes.
8e sure lhal some kind ol aclion or decision will be laken as a resull ol your measures
Don'l lry lo measure everylhing, inslead, locus on whal is imporlanl. Trying lo measure loo much
nol only requires a greal deal ol work, il also lends lo dilule lhe imporlanl issues.
ll your organisalion already has a measuremenl syslem in place, lhen you can use lhose measures.
ll your knowledge managemenl inilialives work, lhen you mighl assume lhal lhis will show up in
your organisalion's olher perlormance measures. Ol course lhere is no guaranlee lhal exisling
measures are good ones so you mighl like lo look inlo lhem, bul lhere are lwo major advanlages lo
"piggy-backing" on exisling measures. lirsl, lhey are already accepled praclice in lhe organisalion,
and second, lhey are mosl likely measuring lhings lhal are imporlanl lo lhe organisalion.
6.3.7 More information
American Produclivily and Qualily Cenler (APQC)
Poad Map lo Knowledge Managemenl Pesulls. Slages ol lmplemenlalion
The 8alanced Scorecard Collaboralive
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7 Knowledge management glossary of terms
The glossary (go direclly lo hllp.// is
arranged in alphabelical order. Where lerms are also known by olher names, or where lwo or more lerms are
closely relaled, you can click on links lrom one lo lhe olher.
ll lhere is a lerm lhal is nol included and you lhink il should be, il you leel lhal a beller explanalion ol a lerm is
needed, or il you wanl lo suggesl an allernalive explanalion, please, please conlacl us.
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