The value of knowledge
One of the greatest challenges for any enterprise is to capture, keep hold of, and make use of knowledge to sustain and improve business performance. Knowledge is power, but leveraging that power means protecting the expertise within your enterprise and making it findable.
Ensuring knowledge remains alive within your organization is crucial when it comes to safeguarding the future progression of any modern enterprise, yet with the amount of information in the world ever-increasing, it’s a task that proves tougher and tougher every day.
The danger of knowledge decay
For any modern enterprise left still wondering why effective knowledge management and sharing is worth investing in, the team outlines an overview of the pitfalls and potential hazards associated with poor knowledge management.
As Paul, Kaitlin, Kaz, and Alex discuss the ins and outs of storing, structuring, and finding enterprise knowledge, they touch on four key themes and tips that your enterprise can take as guidance for your own knowledge management.
#1. Why do you need knowledge management?
Before the team dive into the big ideas and finer details of knowledge management, they first establish exactly what successful knowledge management is, and what all of it is for.
Kaitlin Auriemma adds that your enterprise needs to ask that same question, "What are you capturing and why are you capturing it? Are you capturing knowledge so people can collaborate more effectively? Are you enhancing retention and education? Why are you doing it drives how you do it, structure it, and how well it works."
Knowledge assets can exist in many forms, and so your approach to knowledge management can't simply be a basic spreadsheet. It needs to be tailored to the reason you're protecting knowledge in the first place. For example, if your focus is enhancing collaboration through knowledge sharing, you’ll likely make assets more findable in the form of social posts and mini-blogs.
"You can manage knowledge but then on top of that, you need to be able to share it. If you lock that knowledge away and sideline it, or take that choice away, then that old saying ‘knowledge is power’ – and the negative connotations behind that – come to life. Knowledge is power, but only if people know what it is and can use it for themselves. Otherwise, to be blunt, it's worthless."
#2. What role does technology play?
"Now, the conversation is evolving around how we can mitigate human-laziness and human-error with auto-tagging and automation. You’ll always need knowledge managers, but how much can we automate to make the process better and better?"
A platform for storing and accessing information is the backbone of knowledge management. Curating a searchable knowledge base on your intranet lets employees locate relevant resources and uncover expertise. By putting key insights right at their fingertips, employee experience platforms can empower knowledge management teams to make knowledge and expertise immediately findable.
The team delve into the relationship between employees, knowledge management teams, and technology when contributing to and maintaining knowledge management.
#3. Knowledge management can be controversial
"How much of the job lies with knowledge managers or a knowledge management team versus how much of it is with employee governance? […] Where’s that balance?"
Whose responsibility is it to maintain knowledge management?
It’s an interesting question and one that, to this day, still causes controversy within the field of knowledge management. Modern organizations recognize the need for and importance of knowledge management, but all too often the bill is passed onto the employees to track and capture their own expertise.
This controversy also brings your technology into question, as one-size-fits-all approaches can rouse ire from your workforce and risks employees disengaging entirely with the process and with your knowledge base. To avoid this, as the team explains, enterprises must find hybrid solutions that deliver knowledge in engaging ways, while alleviating some of the workload placed on individuals to contribute knowledge and expertise.
#4. Balancing responsibility
"We have to capture it. We have to somehow structure it, and locate it in a place that people can access. And then we have to make it easy for people to find it."
Knowledge managers are typically good at understanding how you structure something an put it in a database so that people can pull it out, and they’re really good at training people at how to pull it out. But because these people aren’t usually on the frontline, it’s extremely difficult for them to actually capture data and knowledge themselves, so they do rely heavily on people to bring knowledge assets to them.
Different strategies and approaches to knowledge management have seen enterprises try reward programs that incentivize capturing knowledge,
Overall, says Alex, “the responsibility for making the knowledge available, and for understanding what’s going to be valuable, is with everyone.”
Want to learn more about safeguarding knowledge?
If you’re looking to join in on the conversation and discover more of our team’s insights on employee experience, check out the full podcast episode. For guidance on supporting your own employees through remote work, get in touch with our digital workplace experts today.