The “8 Cs” Audit of Knowledge Management

by Paul Gebel

This is the second of a three part series on Knowledge Management in organizations. I kicked it off introducing you to Madanmahon Rao’s KM best practices overview, and in the first main post I examined the five channels of knowledge transfer, discovered by Nancy M. Dixon. In this post, I’ll take a look at a high-level survey of eight attributes of the state of KM within an organization. As a snapshot poll, this survey could be structured as a simple 1-10, or more likely a 1-5 performance scale. Or if an organization were to sample a set of knowledge superusers, this audit could also solicit unstructured, free-form responses for more qualitative feedback. Any way it is administered, the feedback gained from this audit is foundational to developing action items for KM improvement based on the goals of the organization.

  1. Connectivity – What connectivity devices, bandwidths, interfaces, technologies, and tools do your knowledge workers have when they are in the office of on the road?
  2. Content – What knowledge assets are relevant to the content of your workflow, and what are your strategies for codification, classification, archival, retrieval, usage and tracking?
  3. Community – What are the core communities of practice aligned with your business, and what organizational support do you have for identifying, nurturing, and harnessing them?
  4. Culture – Does your organization have a culture of learning where your employees thirst for knowledge, trust one another, and have visible support from their management?
  5. Capacity – What are your strategies for building knowledge-centric capacity in your employees, for instance via workshops, white papers, mentoring, and e-learning?
  6. Cooperation – Do you employees have a spirit of open cooperation, and does your organizations cooperate on the KM front with business partners, industry consortia, and universities?
  7. Commerce – What commercial and other incentives do you use to promote your KM practice? How are you “pricing” the contribution, acceptance, and usage of knowledge assets?
  8. Capital – What percentage and amount of your revenues are invested in your KM practices, and how are you measuring their usage and benefits in monetary and qualitative terms?

Similar to the five channels of knowledge transfer, it’s striking upon reading it. This audit, compiled by an internationally respected expert in KM, never mentions ISO standards or file naming conventions. The health and wellbeing of KM within organizations has more to do with people than it does technology. So lay out your goals for improving KM for effective growth towards your goals, and see where your areas of improvement lie. Have you conducted an 8Cs audit within your firm before? If you need a hand getting started, I would love to help your business grow.

The main source for this post comes from a framework by Madanmohan Rao (@madanrao) in the book Knowledge Management in Practice: Connections and Context.

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