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Overcoming Barriers to Creating a Knowledge Management Culture

March 29, 2016
Paul M. Dooley


Discover the most common barriers you will face when implementing knowledge management and how to overcome them, so that your organization changes, over time, into a culture where knowledge sharing and reuse becomes second nature and part of the normal course of activity.


Knowledge management (KM) is now one of the key processes in ITIL®, and the payoff of an effective KM process is huge. When fully implemented, it provides a common KM system that is available to all stages in the services life cycle, improving decision making, reducing duplication of effort and rediscovery of knowledge, reducing costs, and empowering customers, users, and all of IT.

So why have so few IT service organizations been able to implement KM successfully? It’s because of a number of “barriers” that stand in their way:

  1. Failing to recognize that implementing KM is a strategic initiative, requiring time, across-the-board commitment from many people groups, and in fact, a change in the way the organization works. This mandates the use of an organization change model.
  2. Not taking a life cycle approach, but attempting to deploy KM as a tactical project, composed of a system and assigned resources. Since implementing KM is strategic in nature, potentially affecting the entire service and support organization, it is critical that you take a life cycle approach to implementation.
  3. Failing to realize that there are organizational barriers due to silos that develop as a consequence of the way people are organized into discrete departments, reporting to different managers.
  4. Being too focused on KM tools, believing that the tool will deliver the value, rather than taking a strategic and process approach to KM implementation.
  5. Failing to make it easy to capture knowledge in the workflow, and in fact, requiring knowledge workers to take extra steps to format, capture, store, and share knowledge.
  6. Failing to build it into the way people work, so that knowledge sharing becomes a natural byproduct of work. Not realizing that support for KM needs to be incorporated into policies and procedures, roles and responsibilities, supporting systems, metrics and reporting, appraisal processes, and reward and recognition.

These barriers can be overcome, however, with the right vision, strategies, and tactics. Let’s consider these barriers one by one and how to successfully overcome each to create a KM culture in your organization.

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