The art of retaining institutional knowledge is a skill that you need to master as a CIO or a Knowledge Management professional, because it can mean your survival and can contribute to building the legacy of your organization. The first step is understanding why you need to retain institutional knowledge.
If your organization is in a growing stage, you have to capture all institutional knowledge because you will encounter major and minor product changes, procedural changes, compliance updates, structural reforms, shifts in agenda, etc. Even if there aren’t any changes, you should create a knowledge catalogue for when a new senior executive or CEO introduces a different agenda that doesn’t build on earlier knowledge, or contradicts what was done previously.
So you must be wondering, what steps can you take to retain knowledge and experiences which reside in the heads, hands, and actions of your employees?
We have listed down a few key approaches that can help you with this:
Create an explicit strategy for maintaining institutional memory, even in your own team. Do not assume that it will happen by itself. Set aside separate times in every employee’s work schedule for cataloging knowledge. Create appropriate standards to streamline the whole process.
Identify the key things that you want every member of your team to be able to do — try to convert this from an assumption to an explicit expectation. You should hold weekly, or at least monthly, team meetings.
Humans have a tendency of holding back their thoughts. Rectify this by pushing your employees out of their comfort zone. Encourage them to make their voices heard because every piece of information may one day prove to be crucial to your organization.
Recognize and Reward
Recognize and reward regular contributors. Build an environment where employees at all levels feel like contributing to the knowledge base.
Classify and Curate
Know the knowledge resources of your organization, including where they are located and in what form they exist. Also, regular curation of knowledge catalogs is necessary to avoid ambiguous information.
Use and Share
Lastly, leverage technology to create a process by which your team can regularly access institutional knowledge as well as contribute to it.
An organization’s memory is as fragile as it is important. If we don’t implement procedures to nurture it, we put the whole organization’s growth at risk.
What best practices and/or platforms do you use? Let me know in the comments.