Project Management

Knowledge Management Initiatives: Learning From Failure

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Many organizations are launching knowledge management initiatives and large proportion of those initiatives fail, but still no detailed attention has been paid to know the actual reasons for those failures. It looks like the practice of Knowledge Management (KM) tends to be too IT focused and many times IT directed. In this article, I’m going to analyze what went wrong with KM initiatives and to identify the key learning point.

Reasons for Knowledge Management Failure

There seems to be four distinct categories of KM failure like technology, culture, content and project management.

Some of the failure factors: 

  • Lack of organizational incentive to create and transfer knowledge
  • The organizational structure and absence of clear vision
  • The existing organizational culture and low business priority
  • Conflicts among stakeholders will hinder knowledge retrieval and transfer within an organization.

Knowledge management is a business practice rather than technology. The matter of fact is that getting employees to share what they know is no longer a technology challenge, but it should be considered as a corporate culture challenge. If the organization continues to reward people for keeping content rather than sharing it, then it’s never going to be successful. After all KM should be viewed as an integral part of the business operation rather than an optional and “nice-to-have” feature.


Organizations should consider knowledge sharing as a part of building competitive advantage among their competitors. I think by using the right tools organization can increase collaboration, communication, trust, and productivity. When the employees know that they have access to the resources they need and have a positive environment they are more likely to share information and allow to grow the organization’s competitive advantage.

Posted on: December 19, 2017 09:21 PM | Permalink

Comments (9)

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Sante Delle-Vergini Senior Project Manager| Infosys Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Few organizations have truly mastered knowledge management initiatives.

Drake Settsu Project Manager / Blogger Hi, USA
The queue of projects takes precedence and KM takes a seat on the back burner. Management needs to make KM a project.

Rami Kaibni
Community Champion
Senior Projects Manager | Field & Marten Associates New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada
Good post Anish. KM is very important for sure ! Ive been involved in a KM project with my previous employer and it was very successful on so many levels.

Stéphane Parent Self Employed / Semi-retired| Leader Maker Prince Edward Island, Canada
Tacit knowledge management is still the difficult part.

Anish Abraham Privacy Program Manager| University of Washington Auburn, Wa, USA
Rami, glad to hear that your past KM project was successful.

Eduin Fernando Valdes Alvarado Project Manager| F y F Fabricamos Futuro Villavicencio, Meta, Colombia
Thanks for sharing

Lily Murariu Lead Program Control-Change Mgmt. M.Eng CDP D.B.A.-PM (c), 2022 Chair PMI BVAC| National Research Council Canada Cantley, Quebec, Canada
Knowledge management is key to project success and is a real demonstration of organizational maturity.
Thanks for this insightful blog, Anish.

Anish Abraham Privacy Program Manager| University of Washington Auburn, Wa, USA
Thanks Lily, I appreciate it.

Luis Branco CEO| Business Insight, Consultores de Gestão, Ldª Carcavelos, Lisboa, Portugal
Dear Anish
Regardless of your perspective on the topic: "Knowledge Management Initiatives: Learning From Failure"

Thanks for sharing

Important point to remember: "Organizations should consider knowledge sharing as a part of building competitive advantage among their competitors."

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