Knowledge sharing involves the exchange of information internally that helps with a company’s agility, growth and development.
When knowledge sharing is fully embraced, organizations regularly see significant benefits that improve performance and efficiency. But in order to unlock these benefits, the right knowledge sharing tools are required.
Knowledge sharing is growing fast, as are the options to tap into it. There are now more software platforms and tools than ever before, and finding the right one for your needs can be tough.
Fortunately, we’ve done the hard for you and picked out five of the best options for knowledge sharing tools.
BoostHQ helps employees share, centralise, and discuss your company’s knowledge. This software allows you to curate content, share it, and encourage real-time discussions. One of the neat things about BoostHQ is its ability to integrate with all the main file-sharing systems, including DropBox, Google Docs, Evernote, and OneDrive.
GSuite is great for those of you who rely heavily on the Google apps. It will bring together your Gmail, Google Drive, and Google Calendar into one big file-sharing tool. It means that information is readily accessible on your desktops and mobile devices. The great advantage to GSuite is that most of us are familiar with Google technology – putting employees at ease to use it.
Document360 is a knowledge base software perfect for building a self-serve online library of information about your product, service, departments, or topics of interest. This kind of software is great for empowering your customers and/or employees, and helps them to find easy solutions.
Evernote has been around for a while, but it’s still loved by those who use it. The software allows you to brainstorm, take notes, and capture inspiration at the moment it strikes. Type notes, jot down ideas, and record your spoken word. This is a good way to keep project ‘paperwork’ together for ease and sharing.
Zoho offers an easy way to put all your information into one searchable portal. It requires minimal technical knowledge to use and allows employees to converse in private or public workspaces.
The Critical Knowledge Grid
When a company commits to a culture of knowledge sharing, it’s important to permit the right access to the right people. Something that’s integral to one department, might not be so important to another. This is particularly crucial when confidential information is involved. In this scenario, it’s imperative that information is only shared on a need to know basis. You can’t afford to let company secrets or other sensitive data fall into the wrong hands.
Beyond the risk of confidential information leaking when captured, there is also a risk in play of uncaptured information being lost when key staff members leave.
The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) shared an effective prioritisation tool that helps to make decisions about the criticality of knowledge and how much risk there is of losing it.
The critical knowledge grid allows companies to see how critical the knowledge is (ranging from ‘generally known’ to ‘irreplaceable’) and the timescale the knowledge has before it risks being lost (typically two to six years). With this information, companies can make actionable decisions on what to make ‘high-priority’ in their ‘knowledge retention tools’ (i.e. where and how to display each piece of knowledge).
Having the sufficient tools to enable effective and efficient transfer of knowledge is the main piece of the ‘retaining knowledge puzzle’. Using something like the critical knowledge grid can help you to make sure the right knowledge is stored in the right place at the right time.
More than 80% of executives consider innovation to be important for the future of their business. Both idea and innovation management are therefore clearly crucial concepts for the long-term success of any company.
In a nutshell, idea management is the process of collecting and developing ideas and insights to use them to your advantage. In practice, we typically see idea management broken down into four distinct but overlapping areas: strategy, process, tools and methods, and culture.
To succeed in idea management your company has to consider and address all four areas in a way that’s aligned with the goals and capabilities of your company.
When new ideas are generated, it’s important to sort and evaluate them. Every innovation starts from an idea, so without them, your company would suffer from a lack of innovation.
It goes without saying that ideas are important and should be encouraged. Using tools like knowledge base software can help create a space for these ideas to be heard; you might end up finding the needle in the haystack.
A knowledge map is a visual aid that shows you where knowledge can be found within a group or company. These maps use various interconnecting nodes to make it easy to find out where to look for information.
As your knowledge sharing database grows, it’s beneficial to have a simple tool to find specific skills and information. Not everyone will be as familiar with the information as you might be, so knowledge mapping can help to save time by efficiently leading someone directly to the area they will find help.
There are four basic steps to making a knowledge map:
- Identify the topic for your map
- Define a starting point and branch into various nodes that represent people or places where information can be found
- Continue branching into more specific nodes if needed
- Add keywords that explain how each node relates to another, until you’re left with a single resource for information
A knowledge map is a visual representation of your company’s intellectual assets. With it, employees can pinpoint where critical knowledge is, how it flows, and any barriers or gaps. This helps your company to focus resources on the most dangerous knowledge risks and the most fruitful knowledge opportunities.
The Right Tools at the Right Time
“If you build it, they will come,” is not a good philosophy for a knowledge sharing system. Identify the different types of knowledge that you want to share within your organization, then distinguish between explicit, implicit, and tacit knowledge – each type of knowledge can be most effectively shared using a different method.
A knowledge sharing system is a tool you use to get the job done, but the best knowledge sharing happens when you build better relationships between people. Knowledge sharing practices must be baked into the company culture and it should be rewarded with positive reinforcement.
Distinguish between tacit, explicit, and implicit knowledge, and devise appropriate methods to capture different types of knowledge. Doing so will help you to choose the right tools, build the right frameworks, and maximise your potential benefits.
With the right knowledge sharing tools at your disposal, you’ll be able to take full advantage of the benefits of knowledge sharing within your organization, empowering your employees to do more, supercharge their speed of development and contribution, and drive efficiency throughout your organization.
These benefits can all contribute to positive growth within your organization and the development of new competitive advantages that help you to do more with less and diversify your internal capabilities.