BFM2013_1_10_Guidelines for action

All the basic items now clarified, how long would it take to achieve these results?

It depends on your expectations- and how you manage them.

As noted above, a “Big Bang” approach is possible if you focus on technology, but then maintaining the knowledge will be more expensive, as the producers will need constant help both to trace back and update the “thesaurised” knowledge.

In any change management activity, you need to change the behaviour of knowledge producers as a whole.

A simple presentation is not enough to produce the change: you also need to reinforce the message with consistent, individual actions.

We suggest a staged approach, using the results from the parameter-definition activities shown above, to build up a schedule of intervention that could produce the first results in few months.

Lowering the expectations (better, managing them) implies identifying which organizational units could produce results faster.

Then, a “viral” model could be used to both improve your knowledge retention policy and spread the activity to other organizational units.

Whenever you want to “evangelise” on something new, identify a first structure with a high chance of success.

Once successful, this structure should “spread the message” to others, reinforcing the message: usually, the growth is not simply linear.

How do you operate? Realistically, identify a homogeneous area to “tune” your approach, and identify the actual “stakeholders” involved in knowledge management processes: production, collection, distribution, and maintenance.

This approach allows finding if there are any further organizational units that should be involved, while negotiating both a process and the associated roles; e.g. organizational units that have already been assigned similar tasks, or that defined their own knowledge retention policies that are worth considering “best practices”.

Just remember: this approach has to be tailored to both your own corporate culture and your aims.

As an example: often, while taking over or merging units, or defining a joint-venture, “promoting” processes already adopted by some units prior to this organizational and cultural change could actually increase resistance to change.

Finally, no knowledge retention policy should allow “loopholes”, e.g. using external resources to bypass standards, using as an excuse that they follow their own rules.

The message to both internal and external resources is quite simple: you delegate the execution of activities, not responsibility, and therefore any organizational unit using external resources should “price” the cost of converting the externally-generated knowledge in order to make it comply with the internal rules, and obtain something whose lifecycle can be managed internally.

Quite often, these additional costs would reduce or remove the economic viability of externalisation, at least for recurring activities.

BFM2013_1_11_Timeframe for delivery

A first project could usually take one-two months to assess the parameters and give an overview, using brainstorming sessions to identify the targets and the first organizational units to apply the process to.

The collection and first structuring, with the building of a reference catalogue, would probably take another four months.

Unless you have already a knowledge retention policy in place, the cultural change management usually would require another six months, with oversight from either the first organizational unit carrying out all the activities, a new structure, external resources, or a team composed by a mix of resources from the three.

Again, staffing choices have to be tailored to your own current and proposed environment.

Thereafter, a “viral spreading” approach (like the one used in Business Intelligence and similar activities) is suggested to deploy the process across the organization.

As for the project team size: the initial team should be as small as possible, while a single resource should be responsible for the first catalogue building, to ensure consistency.

Once the first phase and second phase of the first project have been carried out, and the working rules have been defined, the team could be expanded to activate parallel projects.

Anyway, consider these first phases as part of a long-term cultural and organizational change programme, if you want to produce self-sustainable results.


In conclusion, knowledge retention is not rocket science, but the benefits it can deliver are quite sensible.

Moreover, you can do it yourself.

With different levels of detail, this approach has been applied time and again, both internally and for customers across Europe.

As usual, use the information at your own risk and adapt anything you read to your own environment.

While we had consistent success in applying this approach, we cannot guarantee that it will work for your organization.