Like king Midas, the champion of a Knowledge Management (KM) initiative might find herself in an awkward situation because the wish came true. Successful KM initiatives can lead to problems. The case study presented in this article details how a consulting company attempted to support its dispersed staff of consultants through the introduction of a web‑based KM portal. The application became popular — too popular in the sense that it led to a deterioration of certain types of knowledge exchange. It achieved the intended goals, but created unforeseen problems. In the article we explore KM practices and explore the role of contexts for IT‑mediated KM. It is suggested that the need to view IT‑mediated KM in various wider contexts is even more important than in many other forms of IS implementation. The KM activities are not only related to identifiable tasks and work processes, but also to social interaction, learning and other dynamic processes in the organisation.
Keywords: knowledge management practices, IS success, electronic communities, knowledge management, knowledge documentation, case study, ba
In the past years Knowledge Management has dealt with various aspects of knowledge retention, knowledge sharing and knowledge development. It is agreed that knowledge documentation is essential for all these purposes, in order to enable their re‑use. Many books and articles have been written on accessibility of documents, revealing an understanding that knowledge that cannot be accessed cannot be re‑used. Most effort has been invested in providing the focused list of relevant documents to the user, while less research has been conducted on how to write the documentation so as to ease its reading, understanding and use. This issue seems to be critical as we notice that existing organizational knowledge is far from being fully utilized: for example, regulations and procedures, including the organization's wisdom, are written; however, recurring faults do occur. People tend not to re‑read entire or partial documents, even when the knowledge therein is needed. This paper describes a framework for the document's internal design. The research hypothesis claims that internal design, using the proposed enabling technique, eases understanding and usage of documents. It therefore reduces the knowledge loss. The research methodology implemented was a qualitative method; the strategy chosen was instrumental: multiple case study (Stake, 1995). The research sample included both organizations (public sector) and the public (KM readers), the research instruments consisting of documentation, archival records, interviews, direct‑observations, participant‑observation and physical artifacts. The findings suggest that internal documentation design eases reading, eases understanding and probably eases use. It therefore leverages knowledge understanding in documents, and reduces knowledge loss. The proposed framework may be useful for a large range of organizational documentation needs, from procedures of work, through SOW's, Engineering Specs, white papers and professional doctrines including organizational knowledge. The framework was designed for organizational Knowledge Management needs, but serves for external rich knowledge documentation as well. It has been used since 2007, in more than fifty cases in five different organizations in Israel.