Searching for the answer to a problem: how knowledge sharing boosts efficiency
by Mike Sharkey
Searching for an answer to a problem and don't want to reinvent the wheel? We explore how good knowledge sharing practices can improve your document search, make you more efficient and help you track down the information you need.
"If only HP knew what HP knows, we would be three times more productive," so famously said Hewlett Packard CEO Lew Platt. He was talking about knowledge management – the way that businesses organise and access knowledge across their company.
Organisations of all sizes contain huge amounts of information about processes, projects and company structure. And often this is the sort of information that can help make complicated tasks easier. The difficulty can be in finding and then tapping into this knowledge.
Blocks to knowledge sharing
Several factors can prevent the sharing of information across an organisation.
Staff turnover. If you don't create a process to capture knowledge held by individuals, then they'll take it with them when they leave.
People hiding knowledge makes others unwilling to share with them
Knowledge hoarding. This happens when people, for whatever reason, become reluctant to share their knowledge with others. It may be to shore up their own positions. It may be because there's no knowledge sharing culture in the organisation. Either way, the result is a vicious cycle. People hiding knowledge makes others unwilling to share knowledge with them.
Poor organisation. Huge amounts of useful information probably exist in your online and offline systems. But beware the fruitless document search. If you don't organise it in a way that enables people to find what they need quickly, you'll see more duplicate tasks and less productivity.
Outdated tools. The knowledge sharing tools you used a few years ago may not be up to the job today. The new, younger workforce expects the immediacy of communication that they experience in their personal lives to be available in the workplace.
93% of Gen Y-ers cite up-to-date technology as one of the most important aspects of a modern workplace. So if you don't have technology that makes it easy for them to take part in knowledge sharing, they might not do it.
Lack of knowledge sharing culture. Does your organisation encourage a culture of openness? If people don't have the right tools or don't feel sharing is part of their job, they're more likely to hold off on clicking the "share" button.
How to help with knowledge sharing
Give people multiple opportunities to share. Sharing isn't just done once a year at an away day. Encourage people to talk and collaborate with each other, whether it's face to face when making a cup of coffee or via other communication or collaboration tools.
The knowledge sharing tools you used a few years ago may not be up to the job today
Using Workplace Chat, for example, enables real-time knowledge sharing. People can share links to relevant documents via integrations with partners such as Sharepoint or Quip. They can hold a quick and instant "show and tell meeting" via HD video or voice call.
Or they can use secret or private project groups as a central repository of different topics and processes. These can become the go-to place for knowledge sharing and replace unsuccessful and time-intensive document searches.
Make information accessible. Save your documents logically and make sure they're available to the people who need them.
Spread knowledge of processes and tools. Searching efficiently saves time. People will be able to do this, provided that you organise your systems efficiently and people know where they are and how they work. Organise training if necessary.
Make it simple. Using the right communication tools can help. Platforms such as Workplace simplify document searches and integrate with other software that enables practical and up-to-date knowledge sharing.
It also utilises easy-to-use and familiar tools so that your teams can jump in and start sharing knowledge straight away.