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The seven basics of knowledge management

Executives in large organizations around the world are increasingly confronted with the question of how to launch an enterprise-wide knowledge sharing program.

In some ways the most difficult thing is to getting started, i.e. how to persuade the managers and staff of the organization to adopt the approach with enthusiasm, when at first it seems unfamiliar, counter-intuitive and strange. For the purpose of communicating the change idea, storytelling has proven to be an effective methodology: see The Springboard: How Storytelling Ignites Action in Knowledge-Era Organizations.

Once the organization has decided to adopt knowledge sharing as an approach, the management faces the question: what specific action steps need to be taken?

Typically, they will find that they have pilot projects for sharing knowledge informally under way in parts of their company. But these isolated pilots do not amount to an enterprise-wide program. To get to the next level and help the company use knowledge management to make a major change in overall organizational performance, a new set of actions will be needed.

What should be done? How do they do it? What are the priorities? What are the most important things to focus on? What can wait for a later stage? The questions stem not so much from an unawareness of the many things that will need to be done, but rather a need to prioritize among a daunting array of possible actions, including culture, structure, processes, organization, and personnel. Since knowledge management can involve changes in every facet of an organization, it is sometimes hard to know where to begin. Among the many things that need to be done, the following are among the highest priority.

  • knowledge management strategy
  • organization
  • budget
  • incentives
  • communities of practics
  • technology for knowledge management
  • measurement of knowledge management
  • second generation issues in knowledge management

  • If these seven things are put in place, and kept in place over a sustained period, then the organization will be well on the way to become a knowledge-sharing organization. Conversely, if the organization is not doing even one of these elements, it may want to consider whether its knowledge-sharing program is likely to be sustainable.


    Stephen Denning, The Springboard: How Storytelling Ignites Action in Knowledge-Era Organizations. Boston, London, Butterworth Heinemann, October 2000.

    Stephen Denning: The Leader's Guide to Storytelling (Jossey-Bass, 2005) chapter 8.

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