We here at Luffa have been thinking and learning about knowledge for a few years now. How to capture it, share it, and act on it. We’ve been talking to professionals and asking them about their practices and one issue that continuously came up — knowledge loss.
While trying to find ways for Luffa to help organizations capture their conversations we were also able to discover ways for organizations to take control of their own knowledge. What we found were 5 ways to help elevate your organization’s knowledge and how to make it more resilient.
1. Always be capturing
The best way to share and spread knowledge is to have it be captured in some way. Forgotten or lost information leads to repeated or mis-performed tasks, hours spent flipping through notebooks and very little material for new employees to learn from.
From meeting minutes to procedural documentation, the act of capturing is a shared task across an organization that everyone benefits from if everyone participates.
The benefits of having an internal system to access organizational knowledge is endless. It facilitates decision making and planning, builds a foundation of go-to knowledge for all employees and prepares everyone for the future by making sure that no one is starting with nothing.
2. Tacit knowledge can actually be captured
Tacit knowledge is very often seen as knowledge that cannot be made explicit and therefore nearly impossible to capture. It’s difficult to articulate, like trying to explain how to ride a bike or speak a new language. Hard to put on paper, but fairly easy to demonstrate if you are already familiar with it. In organizations, tacit knowledge is what’s most commonly lost when employees leave, as no one was sure how to capture it.
No amount of technical documentation can capture tacit knowledge. But with the advent of voice technologies and artificial intelligence, narrations and captured conversations are becoming a practical way to transfer knowledge from one head into many others.
By capturing screens, whiteboard doodles, sketches and other problem-solving artifacts while telling their story, we can now capture the important details that are otherwise bound to be lost — and still find them in seconds.
The opportunity of having those conversation accessible to everyone somewhere is invaluable. Once that knowledge is captured and made available it results in fewer duplicate meetings, fewer knowledge silos, and less knowledge loss.
3. Knowledge and trust fuel each other
There is one key aspect to increasing knowledge sharing within any organization or community: trust. When coworkers trust each other they are more likely to ask for help as well as more likely to share advice.
However trust isn’t something you can just instantly introduce to a group. You can’t “turn trust on”, no matter what the organization dictates. Trust emerges over time by working out loud, that is, by regularly capturing and sharing the things we learn. Trust grows at an interpersonal level between employees, to help grow trust organizations need to provide safe environments to encourage communication and trust.
In circles of higher trust, knowledge travels faster. This makes trust essential for collaboration. This also means that the more knowledge you share, the more trust you gain. It’s a feedback loop with many beneficial outcomes which builds a stronger community.
4. Build a knowledge community
Knowledge shared with everyone in the organization moves the conversation forward. It has the amazing effect of skipping fear-induced discussions (“What are these people working on?”, “Why are they doing things this way?”, etc.) and instead promotes learning and collaboration (“Have you tried this approach?”, “Can you tell me more about this?”, etc.).
“Today more than ever, an organization’s success
hinges on its ability to create and share knowledge
effectively and efficiently.”
By creating a culture of continuous sharing people are kept on the same page and up to date with different parts of the organization. Having the chance to hear or see the work of your coworkers or what other departments create makes it possible to learn from them and understand what they do. All it takes is shared spaces that are easy to search and access by everyone in the company. Once the habit of sharing is established the knowledge spiral is created and spreads.
Your team will be a few steps ahead of the game, and your organization will be collectively more intelligent.
5. Persistent innovation
Constantly capturing and sharing knowledge promotes a culture trust which leads to people being more willing to share knowledge. Communities who share more become communities of continuous learning. Continuous learning creates the kind of environment that permits new ideas to flourish: diverse perspectives and ideas are what drives a culture of innovation.
Continuous learning lets you evolve quickly. You can innovate faster, shift with changing markets and adapt to change, making your organization more competitive. Helping people to adjust to the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead as they appear.
The good news is that it is never too late to start capturing and sharing knowledge. Capture insights, inspiration, and knowledge as they emerge. Find the best way to share your new knowledge with your team. You will gain trust, your team will shine, and your organization will start developing a culture of persistent innovation.