Inside every organisation is a wealth of knowledge just bursting to get out and be shared; with quite a lot of inside people’s heads. This can be fine while they are still there, but you know how it is, someone leaves, and their knowledge goes with them. If only there was some way to capture it and make this knowledge shareable within the whole organisation.
With the advent of social media, big data and other technological and sociological developments, it is becoming more possible to do this. Social media is encouraging people to share more what they know. From videos of their cats, photos of their food to really useful work based information; people are learning to be open about sharing information widely, both inside and outside their organisations. Here are some thoughts and suggestions to make this beneficial to an organisation, such that information is shared more readily and can be managed more easily.
Why should I share?
The first question to ask is “why share knowledge at all?” After all, it takes time and there are plenty of training courses out there. Maybe you are thinking “I worked hard to learn what I know, why should I share it with other people?”
Here are some reasons:
- Sharing your knowledge gives you an opportunity to review what you know and learn some new insights
- If you share with them, other people will share back
- Sharing means people interrupting you less and asking you the same questions over and over again
- Spreading knowledge amongst the team creates a more pleasant working environment
- The organisation doesn’t lose the knowledge when someone leaves
- Merging knowledge from different people and different sources makes for more new connections, new ideas and innovation
What to share
It’s tempting to say ‘everything’, but this would not really be very effective in terms of being find what was relevant to you at the time. But sharing formal documents alone will not give you the kind of comprehensive knowledge base you need either. Here are some additional types of information to consider sharing:
- Success stories
Stories explaining how they were successful, what they did that made the activity successful. . Include what they found didn’t work either, as this could prove invaluable to other people, and save them making the same mistakes. Perhaps you could include this as an internal case study, with a customer facing version included in your organisation’s newsletter.
- Lost deals
While it is more satisfying to share successes, you can often learn more from your fails. Comments about why they didn’t work are also helpful.
- Recordings of your organisation’s key presentations
- Videoed elevator pitches by senior managers and top performers
These can be great mentoring tools for the less experienced and less senior, if they are in the person’s ‘own words’.
- Knowledge forums
Where people can ask questions of the more experienced people and, most importantly, the answers become available for everyone. Consider using these to create an organisational ‘frequently asked questions’.
- Project plans
Showing ‘work in progress’ as well as the scope and plan. Seeing how project plans are produced and used can be a very helpful training device.
- Major customer/client information
Who’s who, contact information, website addresses etc. (Be aware of any Data Protection issues however)
- Checklists and templates
Not just the formal organisation’s checklists and templates, but those created by individuals too. These can be invaluable in improving productivity.
- Training materials and feedback notes
Although you should not substitute your knowledge base for formal training, you may find that sharing the materials (subject to copyright) and the notes made by attendees to clarify the training will help you get more value for it.
If you encourage people to share these, and acknowledge those who do share, your knowledge base will start to build itself.
How to share
Clearly, you will need to put all this information somewhere, and the most effective way to do this is to create a ‘self-maintaining’ system of some kind. This could be an intranet, where people can either send their content to a content manager, or add their content via a content management system e.g. WordPress. This may create an additional, and substantial, administration overhead. With the advent of new cloud based online collaboration tools, much of the administration is unnecessary.
Online collaboration tools for knowledge sharing can:
- Allow everyone to add content easily, without having to understand the underlying technology used. You will need to agree who to notify, approve etc.
- Automatically track documents, videos and other content as you add them. Everyone will know which is the latest content, without having to search through lots of different folders.
- Allow everyone to comment as soon as the content is shared. This should be encouraged, as it creates a rich source of shared knowledge.
- Make it easier to hold and record virtual meetings.
- Give you access to ‘virtual whiteboards’. These enable, and most importantly record, discussions about any problem , issue or idea. They don’t even have to be run in real time, but can be discussions done over several days. As the content is retained, other people can also learn from them.
This Blog was originally written for Glasscubes Ltd, who are a UK based collaboration tool vendor that supports a full range of cloud based options. Find out more about how they can help you manage your knowledge base more effectively by calling +44 (0)20 3274 2310.
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