Why has it become so difficult to find examples? #case-studies #proven-practice


Martin Dugage
 

Dear KMers,
When I started working on KM back in the early 2000s, there were many examples and case studies of KM programs in large organizations like BP, Siemens, Schlumberger, US Army, Shell, Worldbank, McKinsey, NASA, ArcelorMittal... and even the CIA. CEOs were involved at the time, and business cases of ambitious KM programs were made available to a wide audience. KM conferences at that time -such as th IKO in Boston- were truly outstanding, and gave useful and holistic feedback on real business cases to be used as benchmarks. Then came the financial crisis, and all these programs vanished in the haze. Either they collapsed or they were merged into broad and blurry "digital transformation" or "Enterprise 2.0" programs. As a result, there are very few examples today, if any, and almost no case study on NEW successful KM program. The only example I can think about is Framatome, my former company (I just retired), which successfully kicked off a KM program in 2017 with the full support of our CEO.
Moreover, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find documented good KM practices, like innovative ways of performing lessons learned, or good practices in the use of ontologies to connect various knowledge bases. The few KM concepts that still generate publications are communities and the "learning organization", and most often with an emphasis on sociology and culture, which I think is only one aspect of the issue. Besides, very few publications on KM are now centered on the business world. This is very surprising because KM is now again a hot business topic, especially because of the aging population of key people and experts, and of the "big resignation" of young professionals. 
So my question to you is: where on earth can I find sources of information of innovative KM practices and new KM Programs in the business world? The only organization I can think of as a source of such information is APQC, but I am not a member. Is there any other I should definitely consider, especially in Europe? All the other professional organizations in KM I cam across in the past 10 years were academic, and their publications were focused on narrow research topics that cannot be used for benchmarking, which is really what I am looking for.
Please give me ideas...
Thanks
Martin


 

Dear Martin,

most of the cases around 2000 were extrapolations or very general statements. I have participated in the large APQC benchmarking study in February 2000 - see attached agenda.

I quickly checked the presentations of Schlumberger, Buckman and Chevron of that conference. There is not a lot of concrete material in these presentations about whether any improvements have been realized.
Just general statements about technology and communities of practice.

My own business case for KM, which I have done in 1999 for Roche Diagnostics improving projects in R&D were internal and the financials never published, except a description of the approach in 2002:
https://www.aht.ch/publications/

Happy to discuss more if interested. I could share a concrete business on realized savings due to knowledge transfer.
Regards,
Pavel


-- 
Dr. Pavel Kraus
Präsident SKMF
SWISS KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT FORUM
www.skmf.net


Am 20.07.2022 um 12:46 schrieb Martin Dugage:

Dear KMers,
When I started working on KM back in the early 2000s, there were many examples and case studies of KM programs in large organizations like BP, Siemens, Schlumberger, US Army, Shell, Worldbank, McKinsey, NASA, ArcelorMittal... and even the CIA. CEOs were involved at the time, and business cases of ambitious KM programs were made available to a wide audience. KM conferences at that time -such as th IKO in Boston- were truly outstanding, and gave useful and holistic feedback on real business cases to be used as benchmarks. Then came the financial crisis, and all these programs vanished in the haze. Either they collapsed or they were merged into broad and blurry "digital transformation" or "Enterprise 2.0" programs. As a result, there are very few examples today, if any, and almost no case study on NEW successful KM program. The only example I can think about is Framatome, my former company (I just retired), which successfully kicked off a KM program in 2017 with the full support of our CEO.
Moreover, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find documented good KM practices, like innovative ways of performing lessons learned, or good practices in the use of ontologies to connect various knowledge bases. The few KM concepts that still generate publications are communities and the "learning organization", and most often with an emphasis on sociology and culture, which I think is only one aspect of the issue. Besides, very few publications on KM are now centered on the business world. This is very surprising because KM is now again a hot business topic, especially because of the aging population of key people and experts, and of the "big resignation" of young professionals. 
So my question to you is: where on earth can I find sources of information of innovative KM practices and new KM Programs in the business world? The only organization I can think of as a source of such information is APQC, but I am not a member. Is there any other I should definitely consider, especially in Europe? All the other professional organizations in KM I cam across in the past 10 years were academic, and their publications were focused on narrow research topics that cannot be used for benchmarking, which is really what I am looking for.
Please give me ideas...
Thanks
Martin


Stephen Bounds
 

Hi Martin,

As alluded to by Pavel, the problem with all the case studies in the 2000s is that they were post-hoc declarations of success. Various "factors" were claimed as the reasons for these successes but, of course, since there was no robust scientific study or testing of the hypotheses behind the claims it rapidly turned out that there were very few reliable inferences which could be drawn from the success stories.

KM of the 1990s and 2000s was, in fact, almost entirely built upon the logical error of survivorship bias. Once this become obvious and KM failures accumulated, the overall discipline fell out of favour with managers.

While there are still some tendencies to correlate activities and outcomes without good evidence, as a community we now tend to be more humble about what can be promised or achieved in the KM space. There are simply too many factors, too many variables, too many individual considerations, to be confident in putting forward a single organisation as "the benchmark".

The flipside of our humility is that our understanding of the science has vastly improved, with reasonably broad acceptance of things like:

  • Complex systems thinking and incorporation of systems dynamics (including but not limited to the Cynefin domain model)
  • The impact of organisational hygiene factors such as trust and psychosocial safety on knowledge sharing
  • The effect of motivation, involvement, and psychological distance on knowledge construal, individually and jointly
  • Incorporation of information theory, semantics, autopoiesis, and cost-benefit analysis into knowledge system development and design

There is also:

  • a nascent movement to recognise practices of organisational sense-making and organisational knowledge as separate areas worth studying and developing in their own right, likely incorporating aspects of swarm intelligence and cell signaling, and
  • a rising challenge to consider how to incorporate artificial intelligence into organisational systems soon enough, and their impacts on organisational dynamics
Both of these topics fall under the broader heading of the relationships between (and interdependencies of) knowledge, intelligence, and life. I would like to think that the KM theoretical framework we are jointly building is now broad and strong enough to encompass both of these ideas without fundamental reinvention.

Thus -- to end my lengthy digression -- I believe KM finds itself in a period of relative instability and reinvention. We have the tools to individually observe and understand why a particular KM approach may be succeeding or not succeeding, and even to make meaningful assessment about necessary systems changes to address issues. However, we lack the ability to diagnose and generalise a 'best option' treatment that can be shared with others in the way that a practitioner in a more mature discipline like engineering or medicine might.

There simply isn't enough data and practitioner experience available in our new science, and that is why benchmarks and best practice cases are currently few and far between.

Cheers,
Stephen.

====================================
Stephen Bounds
Executive, Information Management
Cordelta
E: stephen.bounds@...
M: 0401 829 096
====================================
On 20/07/2022 8:46 pm, Martin Dugage wrote:

Dear KMers,
When I started working on KM back in the early 2000s, there were many examples and case studies of KM programs in large organizations like BP, Siemens, Schlumberger, US Army, Shell, Worldbank, McKinsey, NASA, ArcelorMittal... and even the CIA. CEOs were involved at the time, and business cases of ambitious KM programs were made available to a wide audience. KM conferences at that time -such as th IKO in Boston- were truly outstanding, and gave useful and holistic feedback on real business cases to be used as benchmarks. Then came the financial crisis, and all these programs vanished in the haze. Either they collapsed or they were merged into broad and blurry "digital transformation" or "Enterprise 2.0" programs. As a result, there are very few examples today, if any, and almost no case study on NEW successful KM program. The only example I can think about is Framatome, my former company (I just retired), which successfully kicked off a KM program in 2017 with the full support of our CEO.
Moreover, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find documented good KM practices, like innovative ways of performing lessons learned, or good practices in the use of ontologies to connect various knowledge bases. The few KM concepts that still generate publications are communities and the "learning organization", and most often with an emphasis on sociology and culture, which I think is only one aspect of the issue. Besides, very few publications on KM are now centered on the business world. This is very surprising because KM is now again a hot business topic, especially because of the aging population of key people and experts, and of the "big resignation" of young professionals. 
So my question to you is: where on earth can I find sources of information of innovative KM practices and new KM Programs in the business world? The only organization I can think of as a source of such information is APQC, but I am not a member. Is there any other I should definitely consider, especially in Europe? All the other professional organizations in KM I cam across in the past 10 years were academic, and their publications were focused on narrow research topics that cannot be used for benchmarking, which is really what I am looking for.
Please give me ideas...
Thanks
Martin


Martin Dugage
 
Edited

Thank you Pavel.
About improvements realized, I tend to think that KMers who focus on time saved and productivity fall into a trap. It is indeed a benefit of KM to save time by quickly finding answers to questions and experts who can help solve complex problems. But the real benefit of KM for me is to avoid costly errors and make the organization more sustainable over time. And this is very difficult - if not impossible - to measure. 
At the beginning of my career, I worked for Dassault Aviation, and I was involved in the Rafale combat fighter project. The way we worked was a masterpiece of KM. Dassault at the time was a horizontal organization, with very little hierarchy. There was no cult of heroes, except for Marcel Dassault, who was a god-like figure, and we were all his disciples. We knew each other. We helped each other. Some working days were in fact entirely spent learning from others, listening to the stories and legends of the company. The company was our life and we were having fun. Nobody was hung up on a career. We truly believed we were the best, to the extent of being perceived as arrogant. We had our childish jargon and rituals that other people in the aerospace industry did not understand. Time management was indeed central: the Rafale A prototype was built in record time, and it was the only project in my entire career which was completed three months ahead of schedule. The prototype flew above Mach 1 on its maiden flight. And yet I had no individual KPIs whatsoever and never felt the pressure to deliver because I had all the resources I needed to be on time. Our only objective was to build the best plane in the world, and we actually did just that through intense collaboration.
But this outstanding achievement only became obvious forty years later. For a very long time, the Rafale program was considered as a failure. Any consultant visiting the company at the time would have been appalled by our spending and recommended numerous cost savings. But this would have resulted in a drop in engagement, endless negotiations on the project schedule, delays, and probably a less brilliant product. 
If KM spending - the time we spent learning from one another - had been measured at the time, it would have scared the top management of any company. But we believed it was necessary, and the only return we could have measured at the time was employee engagement, which was the highest I ever witnessed. 
KM is not for organizations who want to be effective, but for organizations who aim at being the best in the world. But most people don't get it and kill KM with stupid metrics, which only have one objective: controlling how employees spend their time.


Nick Milton
 

Hi Martin

 

In the Knoco surveys, organisations which said they prioritised organisational effectiveness (better results, problems solved etc) quoted 100 times the value of those who prioritised organisational efficiency (finding knowledge faster)

 

http://www.nickmilton.com/2020/06/why-finding-better-knowledge-is-100-x.html

 

Nick Milton

 

 

From: main@SIKM.groups.io <main@SIKM.groups.io> On Behalf Of Martin Dugage
Sent: 20 July 2022 18:00
To: main@SIKM.groups.io
Subject: Re: [SIKM] Why has it become so difficult to find examples? #case-studies #proven-practice

 

[Edited Message Follows]

Thank you Pavel.
About improvements realized, I tend to think that KMers who focus on time saved and productivity fall into a trap. It is indeed a benefit of KM to save time by quickly finding answers to questions and experts who can help solve complex problems. But the real benefit of KM for me is to avoid costly errors and make the organization more sustainable over time. And this is very difficult - if not impossible - to measure. 
At the beginning of my career, I worked for Dassault Aviation, and I was involved in the Rafale combat fighter project. The way we worked was a masterpiece of KM. Dassault at the time was a horizontal organization, with very little hierarchy. There was no cult of heroes, except for Marcel Dassault, who was a god-like figure, and we were all his disciples. We knew each other. We helped each other. Some working days were in fact entirely spent learning from others, listening to the stories and legends of the company. The company was our life and we were having fun. Nobody was hung up on a career. We truly believed we were the best, to the extent of being perceived as arrogant. We had our childish jargon and rituals that other people in the aerospace industry did not understand. Time management was indeed central: the Rafale A prototype was built in record time, and it was the only project in my entire career which was completed three months ahead of schedule. The prototype flew above Mach 1 on its maiden flight. And yet I had no individual KPIs whatsoever and never felt the pressure to deliver because I had all the resources I needed to be on time. Our only objective was to build the best plane in the world, and we actually did just that through intense collaboration.
But this outstanding achievement only became obvious forty years later. For a very long time, the Rafale program was considered as a failure. Any consultant visiting the company at the time would have been appalled by our spending and recommended numerous cost savings. But this would have resulted in a drop in engagement, endless negotiations on the project schedule, delays, and probably a less brilliant product. 
If KM spending - the time we spent learning from one another - had been measured at the time, it would have scared the top management of any company. But we believed it was necessary, and the only return we could have measured at the time was employee engagement, which was the highest I ever witnessed. 
KM is not for organizations who want to be effective, but for organizations who aim at being the best in the world. But most people don't get it and kill KM with stupid metrics, which only have one objective: controlling how employees spend their time.


Nick Milton
 

Martin

 

You can find a number of case studies, and specifically more than 100 examples of organisations which have quantified the value delivered through KM, on my blog. Some of these are from the “good old days”, but not all.

 

http://www.nickmilton.com/search/label/case%20study

http://www.nickmilton.com/search/label/quantified

 

Nick Milton

 

 

From: main@SIKM.groups.io <main@SIKM.groups.io> On Behalf Of Martin Dugage
Sent: 20 July 2022 11:46
To: main@SIKM.groups.io
Subject: [SIKM] #case-studies #best-practices Why has it become so difficult to find examples?

 

Dear KMers,
When I started working on KM back in the early 2000s, there were many examples and case studies of KM programs in large organizations like BP, Siemens, Schlumberger, US Army, Shell, Worldbank, McKinsey, NASA, ArcelorMittal... and even the CIA. CEOs were involved at the time, and business cases of ambitious KM programs were made available to a wide audience. KM conferences at that time -such as th IKO in Boston- were truly outstanding, and gave useful and holistic feedback on real business cases to be used as benchmarks. Then came the financial crisis, and all these programs vanished in the haze. Either they collapsed or they were merged into broad and blurry "digital transformation" or "Enterprise 2.0" programs. As a result, there are very few examples today, if any, and almost no case study on NEW successful KM program. The only example I can think about is Framatome, my former company (I just retired), which successfully kicked off a KM program in 2017 with the full support of our CEO.
Moreover, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find documented good KM practices, like innovative ways of performing lessons learned, or good practices in the use of ontologies to connect various knowledge bases. The few KM concepts that still generate publications are communities and the "learning organization", and most often with an emphasis on sociology and culture, which I think is only one aspect of the issue. Besides, very few publications on KM are now centered on the business world. This is very surprising because KM is now again a hot business topic, especially because of the aging population of key people and experts, and of the "big resignation" of young professionals. 
So my question to you is: where on earth can I find sources of information of innovative KM practices and new KM Programs in the business world? The only organization I can think of as a source of such information is APQC, but I am not a member. Is there any other I should definitely consider, especially in Europe? All the other professional organizations in KM I cam across in the past 10 years were academic, and their publications were focused on narrow research topics that cannot be used for benchmarking, which is really what I am looking for.
Please give me ideas...
Thanks
Martin


James Robertson
 



Am 20.07.2022 um 12:46 schrieb Martin Dugage:
Moreover, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find documented good KM practices, like innovative ways of performing lessons learned, or good practices in the use of ontologies to connect various knowledge bases. The few KM concepts that still generate publications are communities and the "learning organization", and most often with an emphasis on sociology and culture, which I think is only one aspect of the issue. Besides, very few publications on KM are now centered on the business world. This is very surprising because KM is now again a hot business topic, especially because of the aging population of key people and experts, and of the "big resignation" of young professionals. 
So my question to you is: where on earth can I find sources of information of innovative KM practices and new KM Programs in the business world? The only organization I can think of as a source of such information is APQC, but I am not a member. Is there any other I should definitely consider, especially in Europe? All the other professional organizations in KM I cam across in the past 10 years were academic, and their publications were focused on narrow research topics that cannot be used for benchmarking, which is really what I am looking for.

Can I put forward a simpler explanation for the scarce case studies and success stories?

I think it's because teams have become increasingly time squeezed, at a pace that really accelerated during and post the global financial crisis.

The teams we're working with, across public and private sectors, are racing every day just to keep up with immediate demands and business as usual.

This robs them of time to do strategic planning, and to take on larger and more ambitious challenges. Even more pragmatically, it means they don't have time to write up case studies, participate in conferences, respond to surveys or enter awards. So even where there is great work being done--and it's being done!--the rest of the world isn't finding out.

A case in point: we've run our global Intranet & Digital Workplace Awards for 15 years now. This is the first year that we had to offer a significant extension of time for everyone to enter. We ended up getting great stuff (to be announced in a few weeks), but it's more evidence of the hamster-wheel existence of many teams...

Cheers,
James


--
Step Two James Robertson
Founder and Managing Director | Step Two
Ph: +61 2 9319 7901 | M: +61 416 054 213
www.steptwo.com.au


Stan Garfield
 

In my experience, conferences such as KMWorld and APQC have included numerous presentations featuring examples, case studies, and proven practices.

Here are five years of presentations from KMWorld Conferences.  Many more prior years are also available.
Here are three years of overviews from APQC KM Conferences that include some content that is publicly available without a membership.


Bart Verheijen
 

Martin,

We try to gather case descriptions from our customers; you can find a few at https://guruscan.nl/cases/
Happy to discuss any of those in more detail or get you in touch with the organizations worked for. 
Definitely does not provide a proper benchmark, but gives an insight in new innovative case-studies for KM.

Bart


Martin Dugage
 

I agree with you. Twenty years ago, we could travel around the globe to participate in conferences. Today, we participate in webinars. It is positive in a sense, because there are many interesting webinars. But webinars are less prepared and the bandwidth of communication is narrower.