Critical Success Factors

Many factors contribute to the success or otherwise of a knowledge management initiative. From the many cases we have studied, seven key success factors recur. Follow the links for more discussion on each of them.

  1. A strong link to a business imperative. The KM programme and it KM processes must visibly support business objectives. There must be a clearly articulated 'value proposition', such as "better customer service", "faster time-to-market for new products". There is a clear understanding of how knowledge contributes to these business objectives. Associated with this CSF is a good measurement system, both measuring the impact of KM on business results and the effectiveness of the KM programme itself.
  2. A compelling vision and framework. The framework provides the 'hook' around which to build a common language and momentum for change. It may also define key domains of knowledge and core knowledge value enhancing processes.
  3. Knowledge leadership. This is usually a knowledge champion with support from top management. But knowledge leadership qualities are also developed in individuals throughout the organisation.
  4. A knowledge-creating and sharing culture. This is a culture that empowers individuals, supports informal networking and encourages knowledge sharing across organization and geographic boundaries.
  5. Continuous learning. Learning at all levels. Individuals are encouraged to ask questions, to challenge and to learn. Teams learn from other teams. The organization learns from its successes and mistakes. Learning is shared.
  6. Systematic organizational knowledge processes and practices. A framework and processes for identifying, capturing and diffusing important knowledge in a structured way. Sources of knowledge must be easily identifiable and accessible, whether in databases or human brains.
  7. A well developed ICT (information and communications technology) infrastructure. An infrastructure that supports collaborative work. As well as information databases, it supports communities of practice through discussion forums or social networking facilities. There must also be good software and tools to support individual knowledge workers. Information systems must be accessible and easy to use from multiple locations (within the constraints of security).

For small localised pilot projects, not all factors are important, but these factor recur in those organizations that are truly transforming themselves into knowledge-based eneterpises.

Last updated: 19th March 2011



Our resources section has several articles that will give you a good grounding in some of the basics and practicalities of knowledge management.

See full list of articles


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