3 easy steps to tap into and share your team’s knowledgeon 8 February 2018
The world is littered with astonishing finds. From extinct animals to ships and cities that have been lost until technology has developed to the stage of being able to find them. All have increased our knowledge and enabled us to discover new facts, new ways of doing things or just exciting ideas we would not otherwise have thought of. The knowledge inside your organisations can be like this too.
Have you ever had the experience of not being able to get the information you need because it was locked up in a filing cabinet in another office? Or the knowledge disappeared with Janet, when she left the company? Or it’s on a system in another country, where the office is now closed? If so, you will already know the value of having key knowledge available at the right time.
Successful organisations recognise that knowledge constitutes a valuable asset for creating and sustaining new ideas, new services, and new products. But finding it is a major challenge.
A good cloud based, collaborative toolset, can make this much easier, by holding all the information in one easy to search electronic ‘cupboard’.
1. What is knowledge?
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 types of Knowledge 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 failures. 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 organisation’s formal 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.
2. Bottling your orgainsation’s knowledge
While it may seem easy just to phone up Tony when you want to know something, what happens when Tony is unavailable, or has left or retired? Experts are, by their very nature, scarce. It is frustrating when they are not available to answer your crucial question at the time you need to ask it! Wouldn’t it be better to capture Tony’s knowledge and put it somewhere where you could search for just what you need, just when you want it?
Knowledge may be sitting in people’s heads, in physical filing cabinets, virtual file stores, and individual databases. These knowledge silos made it difficult to share even basic knowledge. Many of us tried to use emails to share information creating bandwidth bottlenecks as files were transferred back and forth, causing confusion and slowing down important work.
We now have the technology to extract this information and share it all in one place. Everyone who needs to access it can do so, easily and safely. Cloud technology helps you create a learning partnership between employees for sharing their knowledge for the benefit of themselves and your organisation. Bottling your knowledge and experience in a shared knowledge base will keep it within your organisation, reducing the risk of knowledge walking out the door when people leave or retire.
Having easy to use tools encourages social collaboration. Social collaboration encourages participation and contribution from your team, helping you capture knowledge as well as data. Your knowledge-sharing tool should allow sharing of news items, common calendars and feedback e.g. likes and comments.
Based on a framework of structured information sharing, people are encouraged to create new shareable knowledge through adding comments and feedback. When all your information is stored in one central place, the knowledge it describes becomes accessible to everyone within a controlled environment.
A knowledge ecosystem enables the dynamic creation of new information, through connections between existing pieces of knowledge. This makes collaboration, change responsiveness and decision making easier.
3. Finding knowledge when you want it
Having spent time and energy setting up a comprehensive knowledge sharing system, you will want to have an effective and easy to use way to find that knowledge. A good knowledge-sharing tool will have a powerful search tool that is easy to use and effective in finding the right knowledge across all information stored.
Using a structured, but flexible, easy to use central knowledge base means knowledge is available exactly when it is needed most.
Better online knowledge sharing systems like Glasscubes have additional features to make it easier to find your knowledge e.g. the ability to automatically track content as you add it, so everyone will know which is the latest content, without having to search through lots of different locations.
When everyone uses the same knowledge-sharing tool, the knowledge that makes your organisation successful and unique is where it should be: permanently within your organisation and accessible to all.
Glasscubes is a UK based collaboration tool vendor that supports a full range of knowledge management and collaboration tools. Find out more about how they can help you manage your teams more effectively by contacting us.
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