On paper, in a procedure or in the head of an employee (who may have left), nothing is as frustrating as searching and not finding. Knowing that the information you are looking for is there, but not knowing where exactly. Choosing and implementing the right Knowledge Management Methodology is one thing, the costs and limited returns are another.
Knowledge is the main asset of every organization, yours included. And that asset resides in the heads of your employees. At all times you want to avoid losing that knowledge when an employee leaves your team or organization. So, the challenge is to capture knowledge in such a way that it remains accessible to others. And that is the objective of every Knowledge Management System. (Check it out in this list of traditional Knowledge Management Methodologies)
Determining the future from the past
In such a system, your knowledge is recorded (in reports, procedures, manuals, minutes, etc.). Every Knowledge Management System will ask you to think beforehand about how you want to structure your knowledge in such a way that you can retrieve it afterwards. That means: determining what is relevant, what characteristics the information has and document what this knowledge is about. It also means defining categories, tags, taxonomies, etc.
Once that is done, an employee is expected to write down his knowledge, feedback, lessons learned, etc. at the end of every job or project. Hoping that that “later”, when needed, someone else can find and reuse that information.
When you think of it, this is a strange approach. Structuring content means that you have to think today about what you will need in the future to retrieve knowledge. Thinking from the past to determine the future, so to speak. In a fast-moving world, this doesn’t make much sense, does it?
How would you select what to capture in documents and what not? How can you determine which information might be useful in the future and which not? Can you predict the future?
Another erroneous assumption of traditional Knowledge Management is this: that employees are willing and able to draw up a report on their findings after the facts about the track they’ve taken, the solution they have chosen, etc. They often don’t want to do it – and often don’t have the time. Especially when they benefit little from this themselves.
On top of that Knowledge Management Systems also assume that employees are willing AND able to carefully assign documents to the right category, tag, folder, etc. Experience has shown that this is seldom the case.
Choose better access to your collective knowledge
Don’t do it. You don’t have to write down and structure the knowledge you’ve gained. The Collective Knowledge is already there. It is in all the information that was created during the normal operation: during the project, during the job, during the meeting. After a project, all specifications, meeting minutes, documentation constitute the Knowledge of the project. After a maintenance job, the job report holds all information you can reuse in the future. After a Customer Service call the answer sent to the customer contains the knowledge of the call. Etc. This information can be explored immediately because it is contained in the existing documents.
The problem is that you don’t have the right tool to find that information and extract it from the operational documents. So your challenge is rather to find a way to gain access to the wealth of information that is already stored in your organization. You have to find a tool that understands the content of all these documents, that understands the questions you have, and that gives you the right answers. That is true Knowledge Management. Or as we call it: Knowledge Harvesting.
Taking the ‘Management’ out of Knowledge Management
Use a knowledge tool you don’t need taxonomy experts for. A knowledge tool that is self-learning, accurate, fast and language-independent. Alexandria.Works can do that. With the Topical Facets™ technology that was created by our Search Experts, Alexandria.Works understands your documents and makes them searchable in natural language. Intelligent search takes away the burden (and the cost) of having to structure information before you can query it.
Do you want to know how it works or are you already convinced? Call us and we’ll explain everything over a cup of coffee.