This blog is part 3 of a 3-part series of posts that are focused on how to create a culture of knowledge sharing at your organization. Sometimes you organization seems to have all of the tools (including software and highly skilled employees), but you simply cannot get knowledge management right. The answer is because of a lack of ingrained culture related to knowledge sharing. That’s why you can’t just buy a wiki and expect your knowledge management problem to be solved. In this series, we’ll address how to make knowledge sharing a part of your company culture.
Why should you prioritize a culture of knowledge sharing?
Knowledge sharing is important because without it, there is an erosion of time and productivity. It’s one thing to have knowledge or information stored inside of your organization, but if it’s not used productively or effectively, it has very little value to the team.
Before the shift to remote, companies could get away with this kind of behavior for a lot longer. But when remote work arrangements became more commonplace, problems with a lack of knowledge sharing became amplified so much so, that they could no longer be ignored.
Knowledge management is a business philosophy. It is an emerging set of principles, processes, organizational structures and technology applications that help people share and leverage their knowledge to meet business objectives. The key to this is that the entire strategy aligns with business objectives. To achieve business objectives you need the proper incentives in place to enable the culture of knowledge sharing to propagate. In other words, its about making knowledge sharing the norm.
Knowledge sharing starts with the individual. When you practice knowledge sharing within your scope of influence, it encourages those around you to do the same – leading by example, so to speak. Fundamentally speaking, knowledge sharing means being more open and transparent with your colleagues, managers and direct reports.
What is the role of technology in knowledge sharing?
Some might argue that you don’t need any new technology to implement a culture of knowledge sharing. To some extent, they are right because at it’s essence, knowledge management is about people. But, we would argue that you can’t effectively share knowledge across an organization without technology, especially with remote work arrangements.
Technology plays a crucial transformational role and is a key part in changing the corporate culture. In many ways, it’s technology that has made knowledge sharing a reality. In the past, it was nearly impossible to share knowledge or work collaboratively with co-workers around the globe. But today, this practice has become commonplace.
The downside of technology
There can, of course, be problems with technology. Mostly, the problems are centered around the ubiquity of tech and how it might interfere with other workplace patterns.
- Information overload created by the broad distribution and availability of content
- Disagreements occur when people challenge others through collaborative channels
- Wasting time due to the incorporation of social network design patterns (like endless scrolling)
The upside of technology
Onto the good stuff. We believe the pros outweigh the cons with respect to the benefits of technology in the workplace, particularly in the application of knowledge sharing.
- Technology helps people find the information they need to complete work quickly and effectively
- It’s the fastest way to distribute knowledge org-wide with immediately availability wherever in the world other employees might be
Top features to look for in knowledge sharing technology
Deep integrations with communication and collaboration platforms
If you are planning on sharing knowledge org-wide, well then you’d better make sure that your knowledge base’s sharing functionality works seamlessly within the places where employees communicate and collaborate. In many modern settings, that places is Slack.
Optimized Knowledge formats
All knowledge formats are not created equal. For example, you probably won’t store a snippet in a longform article or a video clip. So it pays to store knowledge with some consideration to how it is used. There are knowledge base software solutions that can store knowledge in more than just longform text, such as in Q&A formats. In situations where knowledge sharing is the goal, you can choose the knowledge formats that enable the least friction between the support seeker and the internal knowledge.
Because not every knowledge management software suits everyone equally, it comes as no surprise that information and knowledge end up getting siloed in multiple repositories. This creates a search and access problem that can solved with an enterprise search tool that employs federated search functionality. Tools that use federated search functionality can scan multiple repositories with a single query. In environments where knowledge sharing is performed over multiple silos, federated search tools should receive some attention.
Knowledge has an expiry date. It loses value and utility as it ages and must receive some attention to ensure that employees have trust in the existing internal documentation. Your knowledge base technology should bear functionality that allows for scheduled verification of knowledge as well as communicate to the consumer the quality of the knowledge via a timestamp and information about the author. This ensures trust in knowledge sharing and improves the experience for all parties.
Powerful analytics modules
Without some insights as to how your knowledge base is used, its difficult to assess if your knowledge management strategy is working as planned. Optimally, your KM tools will have a powerful analytics module that helps administrators understand:
- Are there knowledge gaps? What are they?
- What questions are being asked?
- How many people use the wiki? How often?
- Where are they accessing the knowledge from? Slack? The browser?
- Where the knowledge seekers queries resolved?
- Is knowledge out of date?
- Are support tickets being deflected?
An analytics module with this level of detail can be a very powerful tool for determining how deeply ingrained knowledge sharing is in your culture.