All businesses- whether they fully utilize it or not- already have access to a very extensive pool of existing knowledge in their organization. Using knowledge in your business isn't always necessarily about brainstorming new products and services, or creating more ingenious new ways to market them. Instead, 'knowledge' in your business could range from everything from your unique understanding of your customers' needs, to how you navigate your business environment, or the combined skills and experience of your team.
The way a business gathers, shares and exploits this knowledge can be central to its ability to develop, grow and innovate. Now more than ever, effective knowledge management is one of the key drivers of not just the creation of new knowledge, but other ideas central to an organization’s innovation process.
What is Knowledge In a Business?
First and foremost, knowledge can be found in the combined experiences of your employees. More than anything, your employees have skills and experience that you can use as an asset. Having knowledgable staff can be key in setting your team up for success, as well as setting you apart from your competitors. It’s important to ensure that your employees' knowledge, skills, and expertise are shared with the rest of your team and new team members whenever possible.
Along with employee expertise, designs and processes for your company services, stored documentation on company practices and policies, and your company's plans for future growth are other examples of business knowledge. The true challenge comes in harnessing this knowledge in a collaborative, productive way. Using this knowledge effectively can help you run your business more efficiently.
Make Knowledge central to your Business
In order to manage the collection and exploitation of knowledge in your business, you should try to build a sharing and collaborative based culture in which knowledge is valued across your business. One way to do this might be to offer incentives to staff who supply useful insight or practices to help your team work more efficiently. You can then go on and use these knowledge management practices throughout your organization to build better processes and improve team productivity. You'll be able to take better advantage of your knowledge base and utilize it more effectively if you develop efficient systems for storing and retrieving information.
Offering incentives to come up with suggestions for how the business can be improved is also a great way to get your team to use and share their knowledge and best practices.
Share Knowledge across your Business
In order to help stop knowledge drain and improve knowledge retention, it is essential to avoid having important knowledge or skills being held by only a few people in your company. Those members of your team who leave or retire without ever sharing or passing on that expertise could result in a loss for your business. If you have more effective ways of sharing knowledge across the business, it will not only be more widely used, but its value and effectiveness will be maximized.
Sit down with your team and consider the best ways of sharing new ideas and information with your staff. You may already have regular meetings where you brief your employees and ask them to share ideas and other best practices.
Along with holding routine brainstorming sessions, it is also be a good idea to create a knowledge bank containing useful information, tips, and other instructions on how to carry out key tasks in your business. Storing and having this information be easily accessible is ideal, as it will encourage your team to use it more often as a resource.
When sharing knowledge, it also has to be managed carefully so that valuable information is being communicated and channelled properly. You may decide it's in your best interest to appoint a senior manager, department head, or experienced employee as your knowledge champion for your business. They can help you not only identify what information needs to be stored, but they can also direct you to different experts in each subject matter. A knowledge champion can also be a well respected employee who not only actively supports your efforts, but gets others to join in on the conversation.
Creating a Knowledge strategy for your Business
If you want to make the most of your business' knowledge, you need to take a more strategic approach to discovering, communicating and sharing it. Develop a knowledge strategy for your business, one based on encouraging collaboration and communication across the business. Notify your internal champions of the long term benefits of more effective knowledge management, and discuss with them the best ways to collect and use existing knowledge in your business.
Ask your team to consider how effective your business is currently at searching, accessing and utilizing current knowledge. Then identify the current processes your organization has for gathering and sharing information. How are staff kept up to date with changes in your company? How are best practices shared throughout the company? How does your company reward great ideas and promote ongoing learning?
By making sure that knowledge management, acquisition and distribution is a ongoing process, it will become central to your business' strategy.
Here are a few of the measurable benefits of capturing and using knowledge more effectively in your organization.
Improved staff productivity, because employees are able to benefit from colleagues' knowledge and expertise to find out the best way to get things done. They'll also feel more appreciated in a business where their ideas are shared and appreciated. By having all of your companies' best practices stored in one central location, your team will no longer waste time running around to find answers.
Equip your team to respond and adapt quickly while on the job
Increased business efficiency, by making better use of expertise within your company
No more re-inventing the wheel. Often employees don't know that what they are trying to do has already been done before. Either they do not know what is already known, or they do not know where to go to access that knowledge. With a more systematic reuse of knowledge in place, no longer will your team have to go the extra mile to find solutions to their problems
Our ability to better collaborate in both physical and virtual teams as knowledge workers, is the driving force behind new knowledge creation. As organizations grow and learn, so do their employees. Teams are developing their competencies and confidence faster in organizations that practice effective knowledge management. Every organization needs to invest in creating and implementing the best knowledge networks, processes, methods, tools and technologies. This will enable them to learn, create new knowledge, and apply the best knowledge faster.