How-to Guides

Behind the Curtain: Understanding the Search and Discovery Technology Stack

“Automagicality” has been one of the banes of knowledge management, and specifically within that, understanding the technologies that go into an effective search and discovery experience, and how different technologies can be combined. Here’s an extended piece describing the elements of the search and discovery stack, and how they work individually and in concert, encompassing search, taxonomy management and text analytics for machine aided classification of content.

I want to acknowledge Dave Clarke, Ahren Lehnert, Agnes Molnar, Maish Nichani and Tom Reamy for their insights and advice – though I take full responsibility for the views expressed here. Enjoy!

Download article

Posted by Patrick Lambe on 04/01/17 at 01:36 PM | Categories: Information & Records Management, KM Applied, KM Competencies, Taxonomy | (0) Comments | Permalink

How To Get and Sustain Buy-in for KM (Cross-Post)

This is a summary of contributions by participants in three rounds of Knowledge Café discussions at KM World on November 5 2015, and facilitated by Patrick Lambe. We’d like to thank the 25 KM professionals who shared their challenges, experience and advice so generously. The topics covered in the discussion were:

Challenge of inexperience
What Buy-in is and is not
Where buy-in needs to come from
How to get support and buy-in
Characteristics of effective knowledge managers

Read the notes here

Posted by Patrick Lambe on 09/12/15 at 12:13 PM | Categories: KM Applied, KM Competencies, Maps | (0) Comments | Permalink

KM Implementation Challenges: Case Studies

This is a piece of research we did about 12 years ago, on KM Implementation Challenges. The case studies inside are constructed as learning games (“decision games” ) and we regularly use them in workshops to explore the implementation challenges and potential pitfalls in KM. Based on anonymised interviews with KM practitioners, they are still relevant today. Somehow, they never made it onto our blog, so here they are! KM_Implementation_Challenges.pdf

Posted by Patrick Lambe on 23/03/15 at 11:03 AM | Categories: KM Applied, KM Critiqued | | Permalink

Poster on Conducting a Knowledge Audit

Here’s our latest infographic poster (formatted for A2 printing) on our knowledge audit process. We also have a video tutorial on the process here. Let us know if you have any questions!

Download the full-size poster here (2MB file).


Posted by Patrick Lambe on 25/02/14 at 12:03 PM | Categories: Knowledge Audit | | Permalink

How to Reduce the Pain of Collecting Metadata

The challenge in information environments is to get complete, accurate and consistent metadata applied to information and data resources. In this article co-authored with Maish Nichani we share strategies to collect metadata that lower the reliance on people in supplying metadata. We cannot completely remove people from the equation but we can prevent them from doing additional work, and focus the role of people on the value added metadata that machines and environment cannot automatically supply. View the article at PebbleRoad here. Download as a pdf here.

Posted by Patrick Lambe on 15/05/13 at 10:10 AM | Categories: Information & Records Management, KM Applied, Taxonomy | | Permalink

How To Develop a Taxonomy


Here is a poster design I’ve been working on for a while – it summarises the empirical, evidence based taxonomy development process we recommend.

This is the link to an A4 pdf version.
This is the link to an A3 pdf version.

We’re going to look at costs/prices for printing this on high quality poster paper and shipping it if there’s a demand. Let us know!

Posted by Patrick Lambe on 01/05/12 at 02:05 PM | Categories: KM Applied, Taxonomy | | Permalink

How to Get Started with an Expertise Transfer Programme

Here are some startup materials if you’re worrried about knowledge retention, rapid expertise turnover, soon-to-retire experienced staff, or anticipated expertise gaps. This is a 30 minute video showing key parts from an October 2007 workshop on how to put together a plan for an expert knowledge transfer programme.

Download the mp4 video file by right clicking here
Go to the show page on vimeo here

The materials for the workshop can be found here.

And here is a short guide to getting started with an expertise knowledge audit, to help you figure out where the critical (and vulnerable) areas of expertise and experience are.

Read the guide.

Posted by Patrick Lambe on 23/11/07 at 09:57 AM | Categories: Expertise, KM Applied, Knowledge Transfer, Video | | Permalink

How to Plan a KM Communications Strategy


This concept map catalogues all the elements of a KM communications strategy that we’ve found useful, with some ideas for messages, media and audiences. Download the pdf version formatted for A3 size printing for easier reading!

Posted by Patrick Lambe on 24/09/07 at 02:18 PM | Categories: Change Management, KM Applied | | Permalink

What a Knowledge Sharing Policy Might Look Like

When you want to introduce new information or knowledge management practices and habits in an organisation, it’s usually a good idea to make sure that your organisation’s policies reflect the things you want to happen. This doesn’t mean that the policies do the work of implementation and change management for you (ie you can’t just issue a policy and then sit back and wait for magic to happen), but they support it by capturing (hopefully) in concise language what you’d like to happen, so that everybody is operating from the same point of view. With Marita Keenan last year, I co-authored a guide to knowledge and information management policy development.

We always recommend to our clients who are developing or revising their information and knowledge management related policies to go out and look for examples of good practice on the internet. There are lots of them out there, especially in public sector organisations hailing from Canada, Australia and the UK. The examples will give you good ideas, and if you look at a few you’ll get a sense of all the different factors to consider.

Some months back one of our clients came back to us to say they were developing an information sharing policy and hadn’t been able to find any such examples. On searching for exemplars myself, including via the actKM public forum, I realised that there is very little concrete and specific guidance on knowledge and information sharing behaviours – which is strange, I find. Most of the material out there is either issuing generic feel-good statements saying that sharing is good and a policy should be developed, or stipulating the conditions in which information should not be shared ie as a disguised information security policy.

So I sat down to write a draft version myself. The contents of this document cover all the main principles and guidelines for effective sharing (I think), but I’m hoping you, the readers will give feedback and point out any factors I’ve missed. I have written the document as if it is part of a suite of sub-policies sitting under a generic knowledge and information management policy and using a formal policy template (see the guide Marita and I wrote for an example of what I mean). Ie, this is not a complete Knowledge and Information Management Policy – it just relates to sharing of information and knowledge.

It’s also written very formally to express what needs to happen from an organisational point of view. I wouldn’t recommend this as the communication form of the document for ordinary members of staff! Those provisos aside, all feedback welcomed. A last reminder: the policy alone does not remove the need for active interventions to change a culture positively!

I would like to acknowledge the help of Mark Gould, Mark Schenk, Jack Vinson, Alan Dyer, Neil Olonoff, Stephen Bounds, Nigel Phillips, Matt Moore, Patti Anklam, Marita Keenan, Peter Hobby, Mark Rogers and Christopher Zielinksi who all made suggestions or contributed samples via the actKM Forum in June 2007, and Dave Pollard, whose June 2005 post on corporate blogging policy I found both practical and inspiring.

Read the policy (in Word format, please feel free to use with acknowledgement)

Posted by Patrick Lambe on 08/09/07 at 02:00 PM | Categories: Change Management, Culture, Information & Records Management, KM Applied, Knowledge Sharing | | Permalink

How To Use KPIs in Knowledge Management

I’ve always been wary of KPIs in knowledge management, because they appeal to a tangible measurement mindset that is easily distracted from the intangible and hard-to-pin down outcomes of KM efforts. I can’t tell you how may implementations I’ve seen where the measurements are diligently gathered and presented as tokens of success (number of documents, number of contributions, number of sharing sessions) when behind the metrics facade, the KM culture and rich sharing habits are as dead as a doornail.

But KPIs, used intelligently alongside “softer” evaluation techniques, do enable you to monitor progress and health in relation to your expectations as you move along your KM journey. And changes or spikes in activity or output trends can signal a need to investigate deeper. So if you take the KPIs with a big pinch of salt and remember you always have to interpret them, they can be a perfectly legitimate tool. So I sat down and wrote this guide to using KPIs.

The paper is in three sections: the first sets out some guidelines for how to use KPIs smartly. The second section gives ideas for sample sets of KPIs covering KM activities and tools as diverse as communities of practice, KM roles, and use of wikis and blogs. The third section is a template for drawing up your own sets of KPIs. The document is in Word format so you can cut and paste whatever takes your fancy (please acknowledge your source). A last word of caution: if you take the whole set of KPIs in this document, you’re taking too many! Leave some time and effort to actually do the work you’re trying to monitor.

Read the guide

Posted by Patrick Lambe on 08/09/07 at 01:35 PM | Categories: Change Management, Information & Records Management, KM Applied | | Permalink

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