A piece from Arizona State University's WP Carey School of Business' Knowledge @ WP Carey on Managing Technology states that to 'Know Thyself' is the First Step to Successful Knowledge Management. The article suggests that KM initiatives are generally voluntary efforts - that they aren't required to get basic business done. As such, adoption of such systems requires business leaders to carefully think about what the system asks of its people and whether the business culture fits.
Therefore, he says, organizations should take a good, hard, objective look at their culture before moving to install a KM system. Companies should not be tempted by returns like Shell's to the point where they disregard the possibility that their organization is incongruent with the cultural requirements needed for a successful knowledge base. Ravindran says that companies should hold off on knowledge sharing projects if the culture is not right –- although he notes that organizational change initiatives can happen concurrently with a KM deployment.
Some of the important characteristics mentioned in the article are
- Is the system a priority for the people expected to use it?
- How fragmented is the internal business? Are the silo walls tall and reinforced, or short and easily breached?
- How do people perceive their job security? Do they approach knowledge sharing as playing to their strengths or diluting their strengths?
- Must the project show value as soon as it goes live, or can you live with a slower feedback loop?
The article fills in the details on these and other aspects that are important to knowledge sharing and to implementing new technologies. I particularly like this effort at defining characteristics of organizations which are more likely to succeed in knowledge management. Those "organizational change initiatives" mentioned in the quote above include creating a culture where knowledge sharing is an expected part of doing business - nothing to do with technologies per se, by the way.