Experiences on KM Incentives and KPIs

My last article about Knowledge Management Strategy created some discussions about key performance indicators (KPI) and incentives for KM activities. What are the right measures to overcome the barriers of information and knowledge sharing in an enterprise?

In our organisation we have three main indicators on how the activities corporate KM team are measured:
1) usage in terms of accessing knowledge items (files + discussions); we define a certain number of potential users and then expect that 20% of those should access the system at least once per month
2) contributions to the our KM platform; here we are setting an absolute target; this means, we don’t expect monthly contributions but rather each department should contribute and maintain a specified number of knowledge items
3) user satisfaction is captured in a yearly survey and measures the qualitative aspects of knowledge sharing activities; i.e. we are asking if the user would promote the tools to others and why they would (or would not) do that

In order to achieve these targets we have to incentivise the people in our organisation; we are taking two approaches: a) top-down engagement by setting KPIs for the management; b) bottom-up encouragement with promotion activities.

Management KPIs are similar to our team’s indicators mentioned above. The task of the department managers is then to assign resources for KM activities, encourage knowledge sharing and integrate these activities in departmental activities. An example for this is nominating a full-time resource for departmental KM and in quarterly meetings add an one hour slot where people can share specific experience which they think are beneficial for all team members.

User promotion is very much targeted on the personal benefits of the users, e.g. safe time to find solutions to your problems or promote yourself by contributing to the KM platform. Basic requirement for this are a very user-friendly and simple system and the perception that the management is supporting these activities. Monetary incentives (or small gifts) can support the usage as well; though, in our experience the effects only last as long the quiz or competition is conducted and do not translate into sustainable usage.

When discussing incentives and KPIs the topic of cultural barriers is coming up regularly. I am working in a highly diverse environment in terms of involved nationalities, languages, etc. Based on this experience I very much agree that we have to deal with cultural barriers and I think these are company-specific and not country-specific. Two of the main barriers are: