Your organization—and your mind—is filled with business-critical knowledge. Harvard’s Dr. Dorothy Leonard calls this “deep smarts.” This is the expertise, the know-how, the skills, the insight that are invaluable to the business and that “underlie future as well as current success.” But what if those deep smarts are locked in your head?
Putting Your Knowledge to Work
Tap into your company’s collective thought leadership by turning it into exclusive content for customers and prospects. To do that as effectively and efficiently as possible, follow these three steps:
1. Map it. Use a Knowledge Mapping System to first brainstorm, then organize, and prioritize your knowledge. The key is to get what you know down on paper so that you can start to put an action plan in place.
Not sure where to start? Go business function by business function, process by process, product by product, and role by role and ask yourself – what do people need to know to be successful here? Put yourself in your customers’ shoes, what questions, concerns, and objections do they have? Ensure the knowledge they need has been mapped.
Feeling stuck? This is serious mental heavy lifting. If you’re struggling doing this on your own, employ the help of someone else in your company, or better yet, a third party who will help you break knowledge down to the basics.
Once the knowledge is charted in a “map”, you can start to identify and prioritize which pieces of knowledge are most important to be shared in your Customer Engagement Portal.
2. Capture it. Next, identify the knowledge holders for each concept. These are your thought leaders. If the knowledge truly only exists in their heads capture that knowledge through interviews. If you’re the thought leader, ask someone to interview you. Most often, knowledge can be found in other places as well – emails, reports, presentations, proposals, and other written documentation. Or perhaps in audio files, videos, or PowerPoints.
If you’re focused in your knowledge capturing pursuits, with thoughtful questions and a clear goal, you can typically collect a lot of information in a short interview or discussion. With the right positioning these thought leaders will feel honored – not burdened – to be part of your knowledge management project.
3. Format It. The formatting and presentation of your knowledge is one of the most crucial steps in creating successful thought leadership content. Think about who you’re trying to reach, how they learn, and what you want them to do with the information. This allows you to match the content with the best mediums. Be creative with how you tailor the knowledge to best meet your customers needs – consider including images, charts and diagrams, infographics, video, audio, and other interactive mediums in your customer engagement experience.
It’s not enough to turn your knowledge into a press release. It’s not even enough to turn your thought leadership into content. You need to transfer it into a learning experience that your audience wants, needs, and cares about.
As Dr. Leonard writes, “The capability to transfer deep smarts from experts to their successors [or from experts to customers, to prospects, etc.]… is not just ‘nice to have,’ but an ‘absolute need to have.’ Hoarding knowledge is a luxury that no organization can afford.” When you share your thought leadership, you not only empower your stakeholders, you realize a competitive advantage that leads to sustained success.