To assess or better not to assess?

It should be a conscious choice whether impact of a knowledge management intervention needs to be assessed. Why or why not? Not measuring does not mean there is no impact. On the contrary, a formal process of measurement can undermine the very goal you are working towards. Take the example of a level of trust needed for collective learning. A measurement process could destroy this level of trust and undermine the same goals we are trying to achieve (Chris Roche, interview). It is therefore important to make sure your design of the impact assessment does not undermine your intervention.

Nancy Dixon in Does your organization have an asking problem? advocates for assessments to justify the time expenditure, and target to projects or interventions of considerable significance in terms of money or outcomes. In the decision to invest in impact assessment or not, it is important to consider the assessment cost and likely outcomes.

Another consideration in the decision to assess impact or not is that the request to measure impact may also indicate lack of faith in the usefulness of the intervention, hence it is best to decide upon this at the start of the intervention, rather than at the time of crises. If a managers is content with reading the impact of the knowledge management intervention informally, there may not be a need for any formal assessment exercises.

Rick James: “Impact assessment is not easy to do and yet too important to ignore. You should approach it with humility and we should not pretend that we have got the answers. The incredible complexity of measuring change in people call for the need to make simplifications. A holistic approach to change engages people at rational and emotional levels. This makes it even more complex, how do you measure people’s engagement and emotional involvement? Talking about impact needs quality engagement”

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