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45 CHAPTER ELEVEN CONCLUSIONS Thirty-three state transportation agencies (STAs) reported It is evident from the many initiatives and processes reported specific efforts to capture the knowledge of experienced by STAs that there is substantial attention being paid to insti- retiring or exiting employees, which indicates that there is tutional memory issues and, specifically, implementation of widespread recognition that this issue warrants attention. KM practices in the individual STAs at some level or by some Key findings showed that individuals. However, a commonly acknowledged understand- ing of KM business processes was not found among agencies The exit interview was the most common effort made that might have been found if, for example, the focus had been (see Figure 1 in chapter three). on physical or financial assets. Rehiring arrangements were typically on a temporary or contract basis. With the responses to the questionnaire came many com- Seven STAs reported having a succession plan process ments about practices, documenting what in most cases seem in place. to be recent initiatives. Some self-criticism was included as A few STAs assign individuals to document expertise. well about possible shortcomings. Some STAs stand out, how- Some STAs assign knowledge-capturing tasks to senior ever. Certainly, Virginia, with its Knowledge Management staff. Office and range of practices is one; however, its program at the time of the survey was just over two years old. One can see from the many comments and other results that Texas with its However, overall, the questionnaire data plus the addi- forensic pavement program and many other initiatives is tional comments as given in detail in Appendix C do not show another. The Texas Department of Transportation (DOT) that STAs routinely have purposeful, ongoing, enterprise- views this program as a possible model. The California DOT, wide programs to deal with leave-taking in a methodical man- challenged by a large decentralized agency, has three specific ner, on an ongoing basis, as part of the normal knowledge functional units that carry most of the responsibility. The Ohio management (KM) business process. The annotated literature DOT possesses a strong KM initiative coming from its library survey in Appendix I and Figure 2 (chapter four) suggests function, with robust attention being paid to bringing external numerous short- and long-term practices. These practices are knowledge into the organization in a sophisticated, systematic listed not as recommendations, but as perhaps "brainstorm" manner, and with strong ties to transportation-rich reposito- ideas. Indeed, some practices may not be practical or even ries. Arizona, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, and Ohio reported legally possible within government agencies. However, orga- enterprise-wide KM programs, with California, Idaho, Min- nizations can embed such practices into their normal business nesota, Nebraska, New Brunswick, Pennsylvania, and Vir- processes to ensure that employees stay on the job, retire- ginia indicating that although they had enterprise-wide pro- ments are anticipated, and leave-taking is not an unexpected grams, they were in the "roll-out" phase. event, but a normal part of the human resource side of the KM business process. In spite of these efforts, when it came to STAs that indi- cated their KM programs were robust enough to continue Based on questionnaire responses, 19 STAs were identi- through staff and administration changes, the list was reduced fied (including New Brunswick, Canada) that have adopted to eight (see Table H1 in Appendix H). Ten agencies noted elements of KM programs or are trying to do so. that their programs were not evenly supported or well com- municated by management, and four indicated that their Overall, it was concluded that most KM efforts are being programs might not survive a new budget cycle or top admin- made by individual work units, or what could be termed istration changes. These questionnaire results may suggest "piecemeal" or work group-level projects, or are pilot pro- that even enterprise-wide recognized KM programs are not grams. Although there are exceptions in California, Maryland, embedded as a normal, ongoing business process and that Ohio, Texas, and Virginia in some areas, in others agency- knowledge itself is not consistently regarded as a strategically wide KM business strategies that permeate the culture and important business asset. help define how business is done are not present. In addi- tion, few STAs reported procedural or policy documenta- This conclusion is supported by the few STAs that reported tion that broadly define and support KM business practices. using metrics to gauge the effectiveness of their KM programs

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46 (see Table H3 in Appendix H). In addition, eight STAs have in KM practices or that there is a career path. Responsibili- training or mentoring programs to help staff transferred to ties are often shared, typically diffuse, vague, and in some new jobs, new hires, or those new to leadership understand cases piecemeal. Responsibility appears to some extent to be the agency's KM practices and how to make the best use of based on the format of the "explicit" resource (see Table F7 KM resources (see Table H4, Appendix H). in Appendix F). As to points of contact to which individuals may turn Most responding STAs indicated that management expects when information is needed, the preponderance of responses employees to consult prior organizational experience before indicated that there is frequently no specified central point of embarking on new projects. However, the comments reveal contact, and that the individual has to "know where to go." that this is not typically a procedure-based normal business The most common responses were that: process, but is more a general, loosely defined activity. One STA, the Virginia DOT, commented that the practice is Individuals must go to different work units, depending encouraged, but that directions on how to proceed are not nec- on what is needed. essarily given. This finding is further supported by indications On an informal basis, individuals go to knowledge indi- of overall lack of training or mentoring programs to help em- viduals or supervisors. ployees use KM resources and practices, as documented in Individuals spend a lot of time figuring out where comments to Question 36 in Table H4. things are. Most of the STAs reporting the existence of KM programs This finding may point to inefficiencies in business pro- (19) have at least one professional librarian on staff. Of cesses, because searching for internal documents and infor- those 19, 5 did not have a professional librarian on staff, mation can be a major source of non-value-added activity, and one of those hired a contract librarian to help with cer- especially for professionals, who most likely need the infor- tain functions. One agency, Idaho, has a formal library but no mation for their work, and whose labor rates are high. Note professional librarian on staff. There appears to be a strong that those STAs that have formal libraries were more likely to correlation and there may be a causal relationship. Although indicate them or the records management unit as the central librarians are not necessarily trained or capable in the broad point of contact. aspects and technologies of KM, their professional expertise seems to play an important enabling role in STAs that do The literature survey lists management standards that incor- have KM programs. The importance of their professional porate and, if an organization wants certification, require that expertise in concert with information technology (IT) staff knowledge and document practices be embedded into the skilled in content management and web building in the management process (see Appendix J). Countries and inter- beginning stages of KM implementation can be seen at both national organizations have published guidelines for KM the World Bank and NASA. In both cases, typical skills of practices. Taken together with the other sources surveyed, it professional librarians such as document management, tax- appears that the worldwide trend in the current global econ- onomy building, indexing, and sophisticated search strate- omy is to develop KM business processes ubiquitously gies were paramount in the early start-up phases of KM throughout organizations with strong support and recognition implementation and are now institutionalized as a normal from every level of management. business process. Taking into consideration the responses to questions That said, it is also apparent from Figure 7 in chapter six regarding cultural receptivity, authority, leadership, day-to- that there are currently few human resource professionals day responsibilities, and management expectations, it is con- assigned to KM responsibilities in STAs. A review of the cluded that management attention can be characterized as current literature and the practices of two leading institutions, "passively positive." In other words, there does not appear to NASA and the World Bank, reveal that well-developed KM be aggressive or assertive leadership from the executive programs incorporate human resource professional expertise. level, but neither is there pervasive or persistent negativity. Indeed, their skills are paramount in helping organizations One can cautiously conclude from the job titles of those deal with tacit knowledge, knowledge transfer, incorporating with KM responsibilities that most KM practices occur new understandings or lessons learned into training programs, from bottoms-up or middle-out initiatives. The data do not incorporating KM skills and competencies into performance indicate that managing knowledge as a valuable asset is a evaluation and award systems, facilitating workshops and high priority of top STA executives. There are few normal communities of practice, establishing mentoring systems, ongoing business processes established similar to those one social network analysis, facilitating after-action face-to-face would expect to find for physical, financial, or human assets. meetings, etc. The job titles of those with have overall authority, who The World Bank, and other organizations revealed by the exercise leadership, or who have day-to-day responsibilities literature search, have harnessed IT skills to set up sophisti- do not imply that these individuals have specialized training cated, transactional web portals and other web-based tech-

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47 nologies to manage KM resources. NASA, for example, is web-based approaches, such as team-share or "push" tech- seeking to harness web technology in a more sophisticated nologies; or incorporation of enterprise-wide taxonomies. fashion to facilitate KM processes. It is apparent that strong IT skills, in a supporting role to core operations, especially For storing KM resources, the biggest concern is in dis- in the area of web portal design and integrated transactional crepancies between storage and preservation of hardcopy as databases, are paramount to organizations where KM per- opposed to electronic resources. Practices for hardcopy appear vades the culture. The literature survey reveals an emerging to be well ensconced in traditional, well-developed records consensus, however, that IT professionals, human resource management programs. Practices for electronic resources, professionals, and librarians all play vital enabling roles in however, are less well-defined, and seem to be based mostly the KM business process. on format rather than on the type of document or content. For example, in the hardcopy environment, one would expect One skill that appears to be pervasive in the KM process without much thought, very different handling practices for, is the ability to communicate well, no matter what the pro- say, an agenda for a specific meeting as opposed to a formal fessional specialty. There is no question that the informa- final project proposal. It was not clear from this research that tion acquired for this study points to KM practices as trans- this kind of differentiation in handling based on type of doc- disciplinary among staff and multi-skilled on the part of ument or content has been developed for the electronic envi- individual staff members. The emphasis is on teamwork, com- ronment. This also proved true regarding the question on munication, respect for others, open and responsible com- destroying or making knowledge resources obsolete. munication across work units, and openness to relative impermanence and fluidity. In the NASA interview, the point The questionnaire results indicated a weak focus on strate- was made that there is a need for project teams to be formed gies to provide clear access paths to explicit KM resources. quickly, with just the right skill mix, whether on a temporary The emphasis seems to be on which department "owns" it, or permanent basis, as the need arises. rather than on the end-user who needs it. The results show that in most STAs the user must "know where to go" depending on Overall, the questionnaire did not produce enough data the nature--whether based on format or content or document to be able to report on budgeting. One STA, Virginia, type--of the resource. reported that KM is a line item in the enterprise-wide bud- get. Four STAs reported KM budgeting as a line item on a In the matter of identifying and finding stored KM resources divisional budget. Fifteen reported that there is no specific for application to current work and decision making, the most budget allocation. common responses indicated that overall, it depends on which work unit is handling the resource. STAs reported a variety of Based on the responses to questions regarding specific finding tools, mixtures of databases and manual (hardcopy) practices, tools, and techniques utilized, the most commonly indexes, a substantial number of databases, clearinghouse- used can be characterized as more traditional practices, which type websites, and knowledgeable individuals. A few states view knowledge capturing as mostly a by-product of normal reported an intranet portal, which presumably offers a "one- work in the form of writing up and keeping normal work doc- stop-shopping" approach by means of some kind of unified umentation, by means of a records management system. Some display screen with links to various resources. Iowa and STAs are implementing enterprise-wide electronic document Minnesota reported on electronic document and records management systems to manage, store, and provide ongoing management systems. The Virginia DOT noted that an effort access to this type of documentation. Most efforts seem to be to create an enterprise-wide taxonomy is underway to allow in the area of documentation, which is very important and searching of multiple repositories simultaneously. should not be underemphasized, especially as organizations move from hardcopy to an e-document environment. Indeed, Once the resources are identified, however, most DOTs both NASA and World Bank interviews revealed that the reported that physical resources, at least, are stored in rea- first phase of KM implementation involved a conscious and sonably convenient and accessible locations, and that deci- major effort in document management, which became an sions to move or destroy records are done carefully. This institutionalized ongoing platform to support other initia- probably is the result of well-established records manage- tives. However, our current understanding of KM is the vital ment programs. Seven DOTs reported as a high priority importance, but less frequently used by STAs, of human transferring available KM resources to the desktop; two have resource-oriented methods, such as communities of practice, a "push" or proactive system. Therefore, perhaps one can knowledge-generating teams, oral interviews, lessons learned, conclude that hardcopy resources are more readily available face-to-face workshops, or social network analysis, all of than electronic ones. Texas reported an effort to deliver which specifically target an individual's implicit knowledge. information more readily to external customers by means of Also less frequently used are the more sophisticated IT- the public website. oriented approaches, such as transactional portals tying multi- ple databases together for project management; sophisticated The main conclusion is that institutional memory prac- staff expertise identification by means of databases; advanced tices exist at some level in at least 19 responding STAs, but

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48 that overall strategic intentionality or conscious effort is not written specifically to help organizations align culturally strongly evident from the results of this study. It was found, and socially to take advantage of knowledge sharing within as revealed from the literature search and interviews, that and beyond their organizational boundaries. This people- KM practices are not as well-defined or measurable as other centric approach adds value to technology-focused initiatives. business processes. In recent years, KM practices have been The goal is to put in place the cultural, human, environmen- implemented by business as an underlying internal process tal, and technical ecology necessary to take advantage of to support their evolution into customer-oriented, team- collective knowledge. based, highly flexible global enterprises, where internal knowledge is viewed as a major asset. There is not a set pro- This synthesis study focused on uncovering and docu- tocol or clear path for implementation such as may exist, for menting current KM-related practices, both on the part of example, in the management of financial assets. Thus, it STAs and in other types of organizations. takes creativity and careful strategizing to implement KM practices that really deliver benefits and are embedded in Further research might be undertaken to investigate whether day-to-day operations. According to the CEN Workshop workshops or a follow-up study identifying and recommend- Agreement 14924-1, efforts in many organizations have ing specific approaches for actually implementing agency- typically taken an IT approach, but the Agreements were wide programs would be useful to STAs.