How to use knowledge management to future-proof your organisation

By Paul Whiffen, Hartfield KM Consulting

You may recall, Paul shared his knowledge with us when he wrote about why you should integrate knowledge management into your business processes and 7 steps to knowledge management success.

In this article Paul shares his thoughts on the future of km and how organisations that are embracing knowledge management are out-performing those that aren't.  Here he shares 5 key drivers of knowledge management to future-proof your organisation.

The “so what?” question

Why should I think about knowledge management, what’s the value?

  • We forget things;
  • We don’t learn from successes;
  • We repeat mistakes;
  • We end up doing everything twice;
  • Our projects don’t learn from each other;
  • Our reputation suffers due to sub-optimal performance;
  • Staff morale is affected by low performance and re-doing work.

Driver 1 - Treat knowledge as an asset

We live in an increasingly knowledge-based world. My belief is that knowledge is a key commodity and we should treat knowledge as the main asset for individuals, companies and countries.

When we have better knowledge

  • We make better decisions;
  • We innovate better;
  • We manage risks and opportunities more effectively;
  • It’s a more fulfilling organisation to work in.

What does good knowledge management look like?

It is about distinguishing the theory of knowledge management from the practicalities of it. For an organisation to do this and to make the most of its knowledge it must regard it as an asset and manage it in a structured way.

To bring the theory to life, you need roles, processes and technology supported by governance and both a knowledge management and change management strategy.

Driver 2 – Develop your knowledge management strategy

A knowledge management strategy

  • consists of knowledge management plans for projects and functions;
  • means doing the same activities but in a pre-planned, organisational and systematic way;
  • is organised and pro-active rather than reactive and tactical;
  • is consistent across an organisation.

3 reasons why having a knowledge management strategy is important

Driver 3 – Implement your knowledge management strategy

What does it mean?

When you implement a knowledge management strategy within your organisation it is about the roles, processes and the supporting technology becoming accepted and established as normal and part of Business As Usual.

Roles includeKnowledge Transfer Plan

  • Central knowledge management team;
  • Knowledge management plan managers;
  • Community managers and facilitators;
  • Subject matter experts;
  • Knowledge domain owners.

Processes include

  • Team learning processes;
  • Individual knowledge transfer;
  • Knowledge sharing communities;
  • Corporate process for managing lessons identified;
  • Knowledge cafes and markets.

Driver 4 – The knowledge transfer plan

By creating knowledge transfer plans for both projects and functions you set the Business context and address two issues

  • Managing the Right Knowledge;
  • Managing the Knowledge Right.

Knowledge transfer plans fall into two categories; project and functional.

  • Project knowledge plans use and create knowledge, and;
  • functional knowledge plans are the long-term custodians of knowledge on behalf of the organisation.

The knowledge plan is the vessel in which organisations can properly manage knowledge as an asset. Ideally, individual staff own and maintain knowledge plans and Knowledge Managers can meet regularly to compare notes and share knowledge across the organisation.

7 benefits of an effective knowledge transfer plan

Driver 5 – Change Management

The hardest part for organisations is the implementation of knowledge management as it is about changing behaviours and attitudes and therefore needs to be introduced through a full Change Management programme.

In my experience organisations who used a staged change management programme over a longer period, say three years, were more successful at implementing knowledge management.

Change Management

A staged change management plan consists of

  • Baseline
  • Strategy
  • Implementation Plan
  • Management Framework

Rather than treating change management as a technical exercise, I see it as influencing, communication and leadership.  It is very important to get leadership support flowing from the top as you need both a top down and bottom up approach for a change management programme to be successful.  

Read more on how to implement a change management process.


With knowledge management, it’s easy to be seduced by the technology and to conclude that knowledge management is just about the technology when critically it is about people and attitudes. Senior Management support and their buy-in to the vision and openness to change is also vital to any successful knowledge management programme.

Documenting knowledge and learnings from the past and using those to future-proof an organisation takes courage and a very comprehensive communications strategy and plan.

We live in an increasingly knowledge-based world and those organisations that proactively manage what they know and use knowledge to future-proof themselves, will outperform those that don’t." 

Are you 'Knowledge Ready'?

Knowledge management is a difficult challenge that every organisation is faced with.  Being able to retain and transfer valuable knowledge in your Business can be the difference between success and failure. That's why, in collaboration with our Knowledge Management Thought-Leader, Paul Whiffen, Hydra has produced a free downloadable ebook.   Managing the Right Knowledge & Managing the Knowledge Right shares the key questions and solutions for improving your knowledge management capabilities to help you become 'Knowledge Ready'.

In this eBookCover of managing the right knowledge and managing the knowledge right

  • Understand the most difficult barriers to successful knowledge management
  • The tools and strategies to improve your organisations knowledge management capabilities
  • Learn how to make knowledge management real 


Download Playbook


About the author, Paul Whiffen

I have been working in KM for 20 years, including Head of KM for three organisations in different sectors. I understand the theory and know how to make KM real and effective from experience gained in both leadership and supporting consultancy. 

If you would like to learn more please visit my blog page.

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