Knowledge strategy – the core objectives

Posted by  Shawn Callahan —February 21, 2007
Filed in Strategy

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that every knowledge strategy has the same objectives, which are:

  • improve knowledge sharing
  • enhance innovation
  • reduce impact of people leaving (knowledge retention)
  • build skills and know-how
  • improve everyone’s ability to find relevant knowledge when they need it
  • improve how we learn from experience

If this is the case, couldn’t a knowledge strategy activity move quickly to engaging as many people as possible in the organisation to work out what actions are needed to make progress on the objectives?

About  Shawn Callahan

Shawn, author of Putting Stories to Work, is one of the world's leading business storytelling consultants. He helps executive teams find and tell the story of their strategy. When he is not working on strategy communication, Shawn is helping leaders find and tell business stories to engage, to influence and to inspire. Shawn works with Global 1000 companies including Shell, IBM, SAP, Bayer, Microsoft & Danone. Connect with Shawn on:


  1. Mark Gould says:

    Up to a point, Lord Copper.
    Let me rephrase your statement:
    Every business has the same strategic objectives, which are:

    • make money
    • beat the competition
    • …er, that’s it

    What is interesting about strategy is how we achieve those objectives. That is as true for a knowledge strategy as it is for business-wide strategy.

  2. Verhoeven says:

    And above all, making impact on the realization the overal goals and objective of the organization.

  3. Pepita says:

    On an abstract level I would say that the objectives of KM (or anything else for that matter) depend on the context a.k.a. the organization and its environment. So I would say that the objectives differ from organization to organization.

    Extrapolate it for marketing, HRM, ICT, etc.. Could you then say that their respective strategies always have the same objectives. Would that mean that all business have the same objectives?

    But then again this is what you see in practice. Or are you seeing practice your way?

  4. Simple isn’t it? Not! Im always surprised by how difficult my clients find Knowledge Management despite the fact that they all claim to understand its importance. Try asking “Do you have milestones on your project plan?” If the answer is yes then ask: “…is there a Lessons Learnt session connected with that milestone?”. Watch the response – it’s depressing!

  5. Thanks for your comments everyone. I was travelling so couldn’t get a response sooner.
    I totally agree Mark that strategy is all in the implementation and I guess that was what I was driving at in this post. I’m amazed at how many organisations still focus on the document, being able to hold ‘the strategy’ in their hands. We need to be able to hold the strategy in our heads, not out hands and this happens when its implementation is embedded in what the organisation does day in and day out. David Maister is a big advocate for 3 month horizons for implementation–what are we going to do in the next 3 months? Actions!
    Pepita, I sense you worry that I’m lumping all organisations together with a single strategy. Come to think of it, I am for knowledge strategies. I think the emphasis on what goal you pursue will be impacted by your context. If all you employees are leaving then knowledge retention will be a focus. But I think for a knowledge strategy you can concentrate on these objectives then get to actions. Unless something can thing of other objectives.
    Yes, Scott, it’s a slow process but more organisations are starting to really get it. No longer are we stuck in the mode of thinking that we should capture knowledge and stick it in a database. The most important point you allude to is the need to make this second nature. Davenport wrote a bit on this topic. I’m only just getting it now. One hit activities are a waste of time.

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