Last week I attended a private meeting of large law firm knowledge management professionals. About 50 people from almost as many firms attended. In preparation for the meeting, the co-organizers (of which I was one) asked all invitees several questions about KM priorities and interests. I present here the results. 

We asked invitees three questions:
1 What are your top 2013 priorities?
2 What did you focus on in 2012? (What consumed most of your KM resources in past year?)
3 What would you like to discuss with the group?

Each respondent answered with a free-form, text answer and categorized that answer using one of about a dozen pre-set categories. Because we used same survey instrument last year, we were able to compare 2012 and 2013 responses. The charts below show the comparison, in addition to a roll-up of the 2013 responses.

About 70 invitees responded in both years but the mix of people changed. The year-to-year results therefore do not compare identical populations, which can affect the conclusions. Separately, because we allowed multiple categories per answer – and, in fact, many respondents did choose several per answer – percent values do not add up to 100.

2013 Priorities

This chart displays answers for 2013, collected in late 2012. The categories appear, left to right, ranked by 2013 priority.

Comparing 2012 Expected Priority and Actual Focus

These two charts compare stated 2012 priorities as of late 2011 with what respondents actually focused on in 2012. The first chart displays the answers from both years; the second highlights the difference.

Comparing 2013 Priority to 2012 Expected Priority + 2012 Actual Focus

The bars in the chart below represent 2013 priorities. Markers represent both the 2012 expected priority and the 2012 actual focus. See if you can draw any conclusions about how our priorities changed based on experience. One possibility is that changes reflect the tension between aspirations and the combination of business demand + the ability of lawyers / firms to change. Another is that changes reflect the natural cycle of projects and movement from one project to another.

2013 Priorities Compared to Discussion Interests

The scatter chart below shows how 2013 priorities compare with discussion interests. Most topics lie close to the diagonal line, meaning the priority and interest in discussing align closely. Highlighted in red and labeled by topic are the four topics with the greatest divergence from the line. Values above the line mean greater interest in discussing the topic than there is priority in doing it. Values below the line mean the topic priority exceeds the interest in discussing it.