Knowledge management is popular among corporations but not viewed as very effective. That’s the alarming finding of a Bain & Co survey of corporate executives. 

Bain has conducted since 1993 a management tools and trends survey in which it asks over 1,000 executives about management tools they use. The tool set numbers 25 and includes benchmarking, business process reengineering, corporate blogs, knowledge management, loyalty management tools, mergers and acquisitions, mission and vision statements, outsourcing, six sigma, and strategic alliances.

KM usage ranks high, #10, with 69% of companies using but satisfaction with it ranks low, #22. The findings note “Knowledge Management increases usage, despite itself – Knowledge Management moved into the top 10 most used tools in 2006 despite being ranked in the bottom 5 for satisfaction in every survey for the past ten years.” (Presentation PDF pages 29, 59, and 28 respectively.)

I can’t explain why adoption is so high if satisfaction is low. Do corporations feel obliged to try? The study does not make clear the relative effort but it does note (p. 56) that “Perhaps some tools should not be used on a limited basis at all.” The results of a similar study of law firms would be fascinating. I will leave speculation about what the results would be for another day.