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    Critical Success Factors for Best Practice in Knowledge Management

I've been asked several times for the research I conducted.  This research addressed something I had never seen done before or since, it categorized successful practices from a wide array of domains and organization types, and described the factors involved in successful practices in both management practices and tactics for Knowledge Management (KM).  In the area of tactics, useful and successful tactics were grouped into 17 categories and the factors attributing to the success of each category were described.  In the area of management practice, four key aspects were addressed: strategy, structure, style and sustainability.


Yes, I know, I promised 'best' practice in the title however, the true use of the term 'best' would imply a significant benchmarking undertaking with quantitative evaluations against a defined and accepted set of criteria.  We did not conduct a benchmarking study and I am doubtful that it could be accomplished in the field of Knowledge Management (KM).  The common convention is to use the term 'best practice' to describe good, successful, useful practice and that is what we did.


 I conducted this research study because I saw far, far too many failures when they could have been successful. Across the whole of the Canadian government from 1995 to 2011 I witnessed virtually every government department try to do KM and most often they tried multiple times during those years. As chairperson of the Canadian government's Interdepartmental Knowledge Management Forum I not only led the community, I tried to share lessons learned from the past for new KMers. Sadly the advice either fell on deaf ears or they were unable to adjust the parameters or terms of their projects. They often didn't even want to know about previous KM attempts in their own organization. In all that time and through all those attempts, literally hundreds of attempts, only three (3) attempts were successful, i.e. real business value for more than three consecutive years. How sad that so much effort was spent and so much interest and goodwill was wasted. In my last few years in the government I found myself in a best practice management research group, and was able to conduct the research into KM. I also led other related studies, into employee engagement, talent management, integrated business planning, and others. What was fascinating was that the more I examined good practice, the more obvious the success factors became, and the more pressing the need to share it given the disproportionate percentage of failures.


I intend to share individual sections or abstracts of the research here and on LinkedIn (http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140613163238-14244516-critical-success-factors-for-best-practice-in-knowledge-management?published=t) and evaluate if people find them useful, interesting, or worthy of comment or question.  The original research was written for a public sector audience with references and links of significance to the public sector.  As such it needs to be reconstituted for a broader audience.  We will first address the tactics volume and each section will be posted as it's reconstituted.


The index to the two volumes of the research are listed below.



Introduction and Foundations of Knowledge Management


1. Social Networking


2. Team-based Learning


3. Mentoring and Coaching


4. Narratives and Storytelling


5. Innovation, Creativity and Discovery


6. Dialogue


7. Documentation and Collection


8. Interviewing


9. Knowledge Visualization and Representation


10. Media-based Distillation and Dissemmination


11. Post-Activity Learning


12. Network Mapping


13. Text Mining and Semantic Analysis


14. Knowledge Organizing Systems


15. Expert, Expertise and Experience Systems


16. Formal Learning


17. Informal Learning


Management Practices

1. Strategy


2. Structure


3. Style


4. Sustainability


Papers:  On this page we share articles published or submitted for publication, Case studies, and Research.  

The Rise and Fall of Exemplary Practice in Government: a case study of Learning and Knowledge Management Program in the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

Publication: Gaining Buy-in For KM, Ark Group, 2014




The Under-appreciation of Knowledge, or The Need for a Need

When Good Enough, Isn't

The Name Game, or Back to the KM Future

Broken Knowledge


Ottawa, Ontario, Canada


T: 613-796-7257