Knowledge, information, data, it’s all one in the same, and it all powers your business. These intangibles lie at the heart of your commercial success and are what separate you from your competition.
What’s to stop someone copying your business from top to bottom? It’s knowledge. The copycat doesn’t have the information they need to replicate what you have, and this highlights just how critical it is within your business.
As such, you need to think about how it’s captured, used and optimized. Knowledge sharing covers all this and more. After all, what’s the point of having such a powerful internal resource unless you’re prepared to use it?
What Is Knowledge Sharing?
Put simply, knowledge sharing is the capture, management and distribution of key information within your business. It typically involves the identification of the essential data that drives your success, data that is more often than not, locked in the heads of your employees. This can be anything from optimization tips, to business-critical information around your company strengths and weakness or just information on processes and how they work. Whatever the case, all these data flows play a critical role in the everyday operation of your business, and so they need to be accessible to the right people in the right place, at the right time. This is what knowledge sharing achieves. It’s the systems, processes and philosophy around information in your organization.
Businesses with good knowledge sharing capabilities are able to ensure their workforce have access to the information they need to do the best job possible. In addition, effective knowledge sharing also ensures companies are able to protect themselves from unexpected employee turnover. This is particularly crucial, because it helps to avoid information losses that can potentially cripple your business.
The Anatomy of Knowledge Sharing
So now you know what knowledge sharing is, you need to understand what’s involved in bringing it to life and how to create an effective platform in your business. While the idea of sharing key information in your organization seems simple, it can be challenging to implement, but well worth overcoming the initial barrier to entry.
Knowledge Sharing Strategy
Understanding what you want to achieve from your knowledge sharing efforts is critical to seeing results. You need a clear understanding of why you’re investing and the desired outcomes of that investment. Maybe you’re looking to upskill your workforce? Or perhaps you’re aiming to capture key information and protect your business from unnecessary risk? Alternatively, you may just want a better view on your internal knowledge and where the gaps are. Whatever the case, knowledge sharing can help with all this and more. The ultimate objectives of your knowledge sharing will influence your approach, and so outlining and defining your strategy is key.
Knowledge Sharing Tools
For effective knowledge sharing, you need the right tools for the job. Your employees need an easy to access platform that can capture their critical insight quickly and efficiently. A knowledge base platform like Document360 can offer an easy to use database that can be customized to meet the needs of your knowledge sharing strategy. If you want to ensure information captured remains confidential to only select staff that’s no issue, or if you’re looking to create an open ended platform for all, that’s fine too. Whatever the situation, you need a centralised location for the information to live and so you need to ensure the tool you choose meets your requirements.
Knowledge Sharing Culture
Once you have the tools, you need to develop a mutual understanding amongst your workers about what they’re for, and why they should be used. It’s important you communicate how you intend to use the information captured as it’s not uncommon for concerns to arise amongst your workforce, particularly as the information captured often relates to their capabilities to deliver. For example, if a worker shares their secrets on how they deliver so efficiently, if that information is then abused (e.g. that worker is replaced by a cheaper alternative because their value has been captured and duplicated), knowledge sharing will quickly fail.
Successful knowledge sharing requires employee buy-in for the long haul. It should help your business create an up-to-date repository of critical information that helps optimize performance across every business unit, but this can only be achieved if the culture is positive and healthy. Knowledge sharing cannot be enforced, so developing a culture that ensures all parties see benefits is critical.
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The Characteristics of Successful Knowledge Sharing
Good knowledge sharing comes in multiple shapes and sizes, but often there are common threads running through the very best knowledge sharing initiatives.
Sharing Opportunities Are Created
In an ideal world, your employees would understand the critical information to the business and proactively share what they know. But the reality is, they’re likely busy with 101 other things that deliver value to the business. As a result, you need to carve out time specifically for them to share, there needs to be a proper opportunity and platform for them to quickly share what they know so it can be used accordingly. Without efforts to optimize knowledge capture, there will be difficulties in getting the key information that delivers value.
Incentives Encourage Participation
Getting workers to contribute for the good of the business can be tough, particularly if the exchange is considered one sided. This however can be easily rectified with incentives, this could be anything from a cash bonus, to an extra day off work, whatever it is, it just needs to be something of value to the individual. There needs to be clear recognition that what that person is offering is valuable.
Data Is Stored, Managed and Used for Ease of Access
By collecting essential data within the business and organizing it effectively, organizations can ensure the right information can be found by the right people, at the right time. This is critical, not only for convenience, but also to ensure maximum value is extracted. Your staff need to know they can find what they need quickly and without hassle. If they don’t have that ease-of-access, they will disengage and ignore the opportunities a knowledge base has to offer. Convenience must lie at the heart of any knowledge base platform.
The information within your business keeps it running. Without the critical data locked inside the heads of your workforce, you would not be able to deliver to the standards you expect. As such, you need to ensure key information is captured in a secure location that’s accessible to the right people. By embracing knowledge management, you can protect your business, empower your workforce and enhance your productivity, all by making the most of what you already have.
Knowledge sharing can be a powerful weapon, and implemented the right way, with the right tools and philosophy, can effectively transform a business, helping to optimize key areas, maximize performance and simplify training. These benefits quickly add up and drive commercial organizations to enhance both the opportunities and capabilities of their workforce. Such gains not only improve organizational performance, but also contribute to company maturity and growth.
With a knowledge sharing platform, businesses will quickly see the positive impacts data collection, management and access can have on their business success.