Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Differences in KM Around the Globe

Organizations based in the US, most of whom operate globally, are focusing their KM efforts primarily in two arenas: collaboration and content management. Collaboration serves as the vehicle for sharing tacit knowledge and rapid problem solving. Collaboration is focused on enabling work teams scattered around the globe. What is new is the emerging prominence and formality of CoPs, responsible for finding and sharing best practices, create new knowledge, fostering innovation, and enhancing the organization’s image in the eyes of customers as a knowledge-based enterprise.

As for content management, organizations are trying to manage the knowledge and information they already have. Businesses are awash in valuable explicit information, and want to try to organize it, usually to support a work flow or product line, or to avoid litigation and risk, and make it easily available to employees. In some cases they are also making it available to customers and suppliers.

APQC is seeing equal emphasis on tacit knowledge exchange—communities—and on content management.

APQC does see a continuing shift in funding models. More and more, the business units, rather than a corporate group, are appointing KM managers and funding collaboration. They turn to the central IT organization as the key supplier for the tools to make it happen. For content management, the same picture is emerging.

The challenges have not changed: ensuring an ROI for KM efforts, giving people time to do it (or creating roles that are explicitly accountable), and dealing with other cultural barriers to having people spend time in knowledge sharing or content management activities.

What about organizations with their historical and cultural roots in EMEA and AP countries? Is the focus primarily on collaboration? Innovation? Content management? Are the challenges the same?


Eri Sudiono said...

In a startup local Asian (consulting) company, I observed that the effort has gone up to the beginning of collaboration. Getting people to get together or inviting people to share is still a big challenge. Awareness is quite good, but making it a real collaboration is not. Everyone knows that KM is important, but noone wants to start collaborating. Hopefully it's better in other organisations.

vijeesh papulli said...

Do you think this has got to do more with the maturity of KM in an organization than the region that an organizations based out of? Organizations that have been tweeking their KM systems for sometime now will have more stable content management systems in place. I am sure the next step they would be looking at is to increase collaboration in their organizations. I have just started a new blog. Do visit when you have time

Jim Lee, PMP said...

Great point Vijeesh. I think maturity and experience do account for some of the differences, but we've also seen in our research that there tend to be some differences. One trend we've seen is that Asia/Pac cultures are much more passionate about collaboration and innovation than they will be on content codification.