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KMWorld 2012 Promise and Reality award winners and finalists

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KM REALITY AWARD

In many organizations, knowledge management is just rhetoric. This award recognizes an organization in which knowledge management is a positive reality. The recipient of the KM Reality award is an organization demonstrating leadership in the implementation of knowledge management practices and processes by realizing measurable business benefits. The knowledge management program will have:

  • been in place for a minimum of one year,
  • demonstrated senior management support, and
  • defined metrics in place to evaluate the program and its impact on organizational goals.

KMWorld Reality Award Winner

FSG

FSG is a nonprofit consulting firm that partners with corporations, foundations and fellow nonprofits all over the world to solve social problems. It tackles a wide range of issues, from giving third-world countries access to medicine to improving America's public schools. FSG's team of 100 "social impact consultants" is geographically dispersed, working from six major cities across North America, Europe and Asia.

The main reason FSG initiated formal knowledge management was due to growth of the company. It was expanding very quickly and realized that knowledge sharing and collaboration under the old model did not scale well. The firm went from one geographic location, to three, and then to four, with a commensurate uptake in work experience and employees. As FSG's ratio of veterans to new hires changed, it faced a common dilemma: how to get knowledge out of the heads and off the laptops of longtime employees, so new hires could access it, too.

The business driver was not financial in nature, such as cost savings and profitability, but rather a desire to increase the efficiency and speed of knowledge proliferation and of the establishment of communities of practice (COPs) and communities of interest (COIs), and to reduce the on-boarding time for new employees to become productive. In the case of COPs/COIs, the business driver was to support those communities so they could easily organize and share information in a dynamic, asynchronous and flexible way.

A host of KM competencies were developed within the firm. In pursuit of intranet navigation design, the organization developed skills in taxonomy development, on several levels. Processes for capturing (some) otherwise tacit knowledge were developed and embraced. Tagging, separate and distinct from the navigational taxonomy, was created. Online collaboration was also adopted using a variety of discussion boards, COP sites and databases with comment fields. Social networking was developed among newer employees who leveraged the tool to more quickly identify key knowledge providers/experts than if the tool had not been available. FSG is still working on effective knowledge discovery, i.e., more powerful approaches to searching.

Metrics

Several metrics were used including:

  • the number of archived client engagements that were online, complete with all related documentation, achieved by project rollout (more than 400);
  • the establishment of a live client engagement for each new project, with upward of 50 percent compliance of usage;
  • the traffic rate and volume of content within each of the COPs/COIs (FSG has eight); and
  • the frequency of access by each user.

Outcomes

The following results were achieved:

  • Every new client project is provided an online accessible project site within 24 hours of "announcement."
  • Each client project is archived—for ongoing access, within two weeks of completion.
  • Ninety-five percent user adoption was achieved. Virtually everyone is an "active" user, participating on client teams, COPs/COIs and as users of the companywide discussion board.
  • Users report an increase of reusing/learning from the previous work product. E-mail-based requests for information have nearly ceased.
  • Increased productivity has been achieved due to the centralization of organizational "announcements" packaged into a single daily digest, versus multiple e-mails.

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