What does good knowledge management look like?

In our article 7 steps to knowledge management success we looked at how to turn knowledge into action to make it real but what does good knowledge management look like?   

To answer this question, once again, I called on Paul Whiffen and his two decades of experience in KM to explain.  

"When introducing knowledge management strategy to an organisation, there are some familiar questions and barriers to overcome.

The most common ones I hear are:

  • we tried lessons learned before without success;
  • isn't this mostly about when people leave or retire and we need to get their knowledge?;
  • we found it very theoretical and conceptual;
  • isn't KM mainly about IT?;
  • it's hard to convince the Business that KM has real value.

How can these be overcome?

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.

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.

2) Bring theory to life

To bring the theory to life, you need a structure which is both practical and pragmatic.

A KM framework includes the roles, processes and technology supported by governance and both a knowledge management and change management strategy.

3) KM framework

Within a KM framework, the roles, process and technology become embedded within an organisation and accepted and established as the 'norm'.

Roles include

  • Central KM team
  • KM Plan Managers
  • Community Managers & Facilitators
  • Subject Matter Experts
  • Knowledge Domain Owners

Processes include

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

With this belief, structure and framework as a starting point an organisation can develop the tools and skills for good knowledge management and make it real. 

Indicators of KM success

When considering what good knowledge management looks like and the measurement of how successful a knowledge management implementation has been in an organisation I tend to look at the following key indicators:-  

  • has a KM approach been authentically adopted?; 
  • does the Business understand the value?;
  • is it being applied as part of ongoing business as usual?

For me, the key thing I have learned over the past couple of decades is that this is a knowledge-based world, and increasingly so.  Those organisation that proactively manage what they know and use knowledge management to future-proof themselves,  will outperform those that don't.   I have seen organisations and projects struggle when they have neglected this, and flourish when they have taken it seriously.


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."

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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