Knowledge management tools have existed for quite some time. From the simple act of documentation, to indexed systems and databases, we’ve created more and more ways to smoothly and efficiently manage knowledge to increase accessibility and recall. Today, however, the knowledge management community exists mostly in a digital format, and the tools and platforms available to create these communities have grown to be more complex and responsive than ever before. As a result, organizations that may have suffered from poor knowledge management in the past are better able to effectively monitor and mediate these communities.
The trend toward effective organic knowledge management has continued to gain momentum in recent years. Faced with an aging workforce, and employees that value collaborative, demand-side knowledge sharing, companies have begun to embrace the tools necessary to collect that knowledge in a way that can be organized, accessed, tracked and mediated. In the past, the investment of time and money into these management tools may have seemed like an extraneous cost, but the evolution of the organic knowledge management digital community into a highly effective resource for organizations of all sizes means that they can no longer afford to ignore it.
The Pillars of Knowledge Management
There are two critical pillars to being a company that wants to build a strong knowledge sharing culture. The first pillar is to encourage collaboration, creativity and knowledge seeking. For many companies, this is an ideal that can be pursued just by having the right kind of leadership in place. The second pillar, however, is the part that can derail even the best intentions if not adequately addressed: providing a digital community to manage that knowledge once it is shared.
As an organization builds a strong knowledge sharing culture, the tools that it uses to enable and empower employees, providers and other knowledge-seeking individuals can make or break that growth. Imagine a situation in which the team has collectively bought-in to the idea of knowledge sharing. Information is being exchanged, questions are being asked, answers are provided, and the general enthusiasm for the concept is high, but the company lacks a digital community through which the engagements took place. Fast forward a bit. Now, all of that knowledge and information exchange resides either solely in the brain, on scraps of paper, a white board, a note-taking app on a smart phone, or some similar method that people use to scribe down ideas in the moment. Instead of having a clean and efficient way to access that knowledge and information, employees are left trying to track down whoever it was they spoke to about a project, or whomever they’ve collaborated with. Without that support mechanism in place, the entire system crumbles.
Now, rewind that same scenario, except this time, leadership provided the team with a digital platform capable of aggregating all that knowledge into a single space. Instead of being frustrated at the lack of documentation, team members can access that platform and put to use the collection of knowledge being provided by peers. Searchable terms, question and answer threads, and real-time feedback has now turned that platform into a living and breathing tool of sustainable organic knowledge management.
The fortunate thing about today’s technological landscape is that there is no need for a one-size-fits-all solution. Knowledge management is no exception. Companies cannot afford to ignore knowledge management, and the tools available on the market are usually wholly customizable to fit the specific needs of a company. Aligning those tools with the internal culture of knowledge sharing can enable a company, and its employees, to collectively reap the benefits of the next generation of knowledge management.