Maya Angelou wrote, “All knowledge is spendable currency, depending on the market.” Your stakeholders want and need your knowledge; when you manage it effectively, what you know becomes an asset you can leverage. But getting it out of your head and into a system: that can be a challenge. The good news is that your organization owns a great deal of static knowledge and it’s easier than you think to sort through relevant business critical knowledge, and all of the rest.
What Do You Know?
If you asked a veteran employee or leader to document everything he or she knows, you might get a look of disbelief and incredulity in return. With all the macro knowledge, all the granular details, all the second-guessing, and the relearning, it seems like an insurmountable task.
It’s not. Why? Because your company, and those within it, have large stores of static knowledge. What you do, how you do it, how you deliver it, and what problems it solves: this does not readily change. Now, you might position the information differently to resonate with different stakeholder audience’s, but the fundamental knowledge remains the same.
Capturing an infinite amount of knowledge is impossible; capturing a finite amount is manageable. With the right system and process, the task of extracting relevant organizational wisdom from the heads of your key people is well within your grasp.
No Missing Links
Knowledge and experience are intangible assets. By documenting them, you start to transform them into hard assets that build business continuity and value. But how can you be sure that you have captured everything?
- Work with Someone Outside the Organization. Often, it is difficult to see the forest through the trees. A fresh set of eyes can extract knowledge by asking the right questions.
- Brainstorm. Think about your organization in terms of business units. What do people in human resources, sales, or operations need to know? To care about? To do? List the processes, the answers to questions, the attitudes, the trainings, and the skills they need in order to do their jobs.
- Review All Documents. Go through training documents, process manuals, emails, sales materials, and marketing collateral. Ensure all of that information is recorded.
- Utilize a Knowledge Management System. Manage your knowledge using a system like Knowledge Mapping that enables you to organize what you know and build relationships between individual pieces of knowledge and stakeholders.
- Listen. What are your stakeholders saying in your day-to-day interactions? Take note of the information that is being passed along verbally to identify the knowledge that is being transferred during business transactions. Don’t allow it to get lost.
When Are You Done?*
Static knowledge is more evergreen than other kinds of knowledge in your business. It’s the kind of information that your stakeholders really only need to learn once. Ensuring it’s recorded and in motion – that is, transferred to the right people at the right time, creates untold efficiencies and boosts stakeholder confidence and satisfaction.
How do you know when you are done recording static knowledge?
Is it all in there, for every key stakeholder, and does it address all of their questions – from what do I do to how do I do it to what do I do if…? Or, for instance, is everything a new employee needs to know in your Knowledge Map?
If your knowledge base can do that, it’s set. You’re done. With a caveat.
Businesses change, grow, and evolve. Any time the market shifts, you launch a new product or service, your demographics change significantly, or you become more sophisticated in your operations, it signals that you need to update your knowledge base.
Even with the asterisk on “done,” documenting what you and others in your organization know is manageable when you realize that much of it is static and you have the right systems and tools to support you. It makes an impossible task possible so you can start to make use of that “spendable currency.”