Re: Business Case for CoP Participation #CoP #value

Tim Powell

Interesting discussion.  I’ve thought so much about this perplexing issue, I’ve written a book on it!   


Companies, especially younger companies, are data-driven, perhaps to a fault.  Agreed, not all enterprise functions can fully prove out -- HR, I’m looking at you — or even describe their ROI (i.e., benefits and costs.)  But, unless they are (1) directly within the revenue stream, or (2) mandated by some outside authority, they too are increasingly vulnerable.


It’s natural for companies and their executives to seek ROI — especially when they don’t deeply understand something.  ROI is a lingua franca of sorts.  As an MBA with ten years logged in the Big Four consultancies, I understand this and work with it.  They don’t take too much on faith, they’re very empirical.  And “knowledge” doesn’t even seem real to many of them.


If you have to quickly “juice” the ROI on anything, the quickest way is to cut the denominator — the investment, i.e., the budget.  It’s a quick, decisive ROI win — that can have disastrous longer-term consequences.


That said, frankly I don’t understand how one can manage a portfolio of projects (of any kind) without a solid understanding of their relative benefits and costs.  Isn’t resource allocation (budgeting, hiring and firing, project expansion and sunsetting) a key aspect of management? These assessments should be ongoing, not just episodic in reaction to the sharpening of budget knives.


Yes, it’s good to have successes in your back pocket when needed — but why not be less defensive, and more forthcoming, about them?


My opinions,




TIM WOOD POWELL | President, The Knowledge Agency® | Author, The Value of Knowledge |

New York City, USA  |  TEL + | 




From: <> on behalf of Arthur Shelley <arthur@...>
Reply-To: "" <>
Date: Tuesday, August 31, 2021 at 8:59 AM
To: "" <>
Subject: Re: [SIKM] Business Case for CoP Participation #CoP #value


I was once asked “THE ROI” question by a HR Director.


I replied with a spreadsheet summarising 35 success stories that collectively added tens of $millions to the bottom and top lines over a few years. This was many multiples of the cost of the KM team.

I then asked if HR had equivalent measures to prove their worth and ROI to the organisation!

He did not answer…


This dollar figure of course did not account for the intangibles generated, which are far more valuable to the organisation (such as the trust, respects, confidence, relationships, loyalty, excitement, willingness to participate, engagement kudos etc – all of which translate back to higher performance in tangible ways).


It is important to collect such armouries so that you can “justify your existence”

Even though this should not be necessary, as people should understand the value created, they are often “too busy” to bother or reflect on the importance that knowledge flows generate. As Stan says, they are self-interested bullies generally looking for someone who they consider an easy target.

So don’t be a target. Knowledge and stories to tell are the best form of defence against ignorant idiots.


Then again, it is up to us KMers to ensure that people do understand the value - so part of the relationships with stakeholders we need to manage.

This why widely sharing success stories is critical (but keep a record of them all over time – just in case someone is to bust to notice). 😊


Arthur Shelley


Founder: Organizational Zoo Ambassadors Network

Mb. +61 413 047 408  Twitter: @Metaphorage


Author: KNOWledge SUCCESSion  Sustained performance and capability growth through knowledge projects

Earlier Books: The Organizational Zoo (2007) & Being a Successful Knowledge Leader (2009)


From: <> On Behalf Of Stan Garfield
Sent: Tuesday, 31 August 2021 9:53 PM
Subject: Re: [SIKM] Business Case for CoP Participation #CoP #value


Robert, that's a very important point. Richard Cross wrote, "Never trust someone who says 'Show me the ROI' or 'You can only manage what you measure.' Anthropologists maintain that in every culture there are apparently rational questions that mask hostile intent. 'Show me the ROI' or 'Yes, but how do you measure it?' generally fall into this category. When confronted with these types, start to get alarmed."

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