How long has your IT organization been struggling with knowledge management (or knowledge sharing)? If it seems like a never-ending sequence of knowledge-related initiatives to resurrect a knowledge base that no one seems to want to use, then maybe it’s time to take a step back to understand some of the things organizations that succeed with knowledge management do differently. So, here’s our 10 tips for knowledge management success based on those organizations.
1. Make knowledge sharing important.Don’t position it as an “add-on” to the real work. And, just as importantly, make it part of the portfolio of factors that influence employee reward and recognition mechanisms. Plus, we can’t overemphasize the importance of integrating knowledge management as part of workflows and business-as-usual operations.
2. As with any other organizational change, sell the benefits to employees.It’s the “What’s in it for me?” that we all seek when faced with something new, particularly change that affects us.
3. Formalize your knowledge management.
This will cover a variety of things from policies and responsibilities, through the administration and management of knowledge articles, to the ability to review/rate the usefulness and value of provided knowledge articles. But be careful not to build in so much bureaucracy that it slows down, or potentially kills, your newly-created knowledge-sharing ecosystem.
4. Make time for knowledge sharing in day-to-day operations.
This applies to both knowledge use and knowledge capture. Obviously, as one of the key benefits of knowledge management is the ability to save time and costs – this might seem a little counterintuitive. But there needs to be an upfront investment (plus a continued investment) to create the knowledge articles (or similar) that facilitate the use and reuse of knowledge.
5. Understand that knowledge management is about people and ways of working.
That it’s not a technology thing, although the technology is required to support the people. Going forward, the technology will help further, with machine learning in particular helping at various stages of knowledge sharing, from knowledge capture through to knowledge use (and even review). In fact, this is worth its own tip…
6. Expect new technologies to make knowledge sharing and knowledge management easier.
Look to the knowledge-management potential of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies in particular.
7. Make it as easy as possible for people to capture and use knowledge.
Ultimately, if knowledge sharing isn’t easy, then people will elect not to do it. For instance, service desk agents might “reinvent the wheel” when it comes to finding a suitable resolution rather than sourcing a proven, known solution.
8. Make knowledge articles about the knowledge consumer not the knowledge creator.
So, don’t let the creation of knowledge articles be an exercise in showing how smart subject matter experts (SMEs) are. Instead ensure that knowledge is written (or otherwise created) with the knowledge consumer in mind. This will mean avoiding technical jargon (if customer-facing), sharing just enough to solve the issue (i.e. not a list of everything the author knows about a topic), and making the knowledge both understandable and easily actionable.
9. Appreciate the limitations of capturing human knowledge.
This is best expressed via a number of knowledge-management principles created by Dave Snowden of https://cognitive-edge.com that: “Knowledge can only be volunteered it cannot be conscripted,” “The way people know things is not the way they report they know things,” “People always know more than they can say, and they will always say more than they can write down,” and “People only know what they know when they need to know it.”
10. Keep tabs on the validity and usefulness of your knowledge.
What might have worked once, might not do so today. Failing to do this wastes people’s time (as they try to use out-of-date knowledge) and – just as importantly – slowly kills the likelihood that the knowledge-sharing capability is considered helpful.
So, that’s our 10 tips for knowledge management success. What would you add? Please let us know in the comments.