One of the best ways to improve efficiency in an organization is to reduce the friction between employees and institutional knowledge. While at a glance, it seems like just having good communication is the solution, in reality, there is a lot to learn by applying some practical theory to the problem.
Learning from Just-in-time Manufacturing
Just-in-time (JIT) manufacturing, also known as just-in-time production or the Toyota Production System (who pioneered the approach), is a methodology aimed primarily at reducing the time to manufacture things.
The efficiency of JIT comes from utilizing resources on-demand, as orders come to the firm. There is less of a chance of over producing and when demand is low, underutilized team members can be used for other tasks such as maintenance.
The same principles of JIT manufacturing can be applied to knowledge. Building your organization around JIT Knowledge enables your team to learn as they go. If you aren’t applying JIT Knowledge, much of your team is wasting lots of time idling, waiting for some other member of your team to respond to a question. A whopping 50% of business emails take longer than 2 hours to receive a response.
Every minute spent waiting to receive knowledge from another team or employee is a wasted opportunity. Even though tools like Slack have reduced the friction to sending/responding to messages, your most knowledgeable employees are not best utilized answering questions all day. Even worse, many times its not widely known that someone on your staff has this information, and time is wasted re-learning or recreating information that was already available.
3 Things to Get Started with Just-in-time Knowledge
So if you are interested in starting to introduce JIT Knowledge to your organization, here are some very achievable processes and tools to get you started.
- Digitize your knowledge. Some of the best information in an organization never makes it to a computer. Photograph white boards after meetings with an OCR tool, invest in smart notebooks, record Zoom meetings. Anything and everything to make sure knowledge becomes digital.
- Record webinars, lunch & learns, and other training activities so that non present and future employees can access them.
- Utilize a Knowledge Management Platform, like Constellation, that offers powerful search capability on top of all this information so that you can give your team a quick and easy way to answer any question.