Is my company ready for knowledge sharing?

You know that implementing a knowledge management solution has been proven to increase employee productivity. But is your company really ready for knowledge-sharing?

The short answer is no.

No company is ready for knowledge-sharing or management. Knowledge sharing/management is like cleaning out a storage closet or a kids’ play area: It’s overwhelming, it’s messy, you’ll inevitably throw out something that you need, and you’ll think that your efforts will never be rewarded.

So your company isn’t ready.

But every individual within your company is ready.

They are tired of realizing they have a question and knowing they’ll need to hunt down the information. They’ll have to open multiple browser tabs searching through documentation, and then when that doesn’t pan out, they’ll Slack a channel where they think people who may know may be hanging out. Even then, it could be hours before they get a response.

I call this the “search sigh”—that moment that you feel a bit defeated, knowing the frustration that’s ahead of you.

Every individual on your team and in your company wants things to be easier and more organized.

How do you get there?

First, get your foundation in place

What do you want your knowledge management space to be? Think about the overall purpose. Is it a gathering place for collaboration, long-term storage, or a pantry where you store all the things you need?

When considering the format your solution will take, think about factors such as:

  • How often does new information come out?
  • How many workarounds does your team come up with in a week?
  • Do you do post-mortems after issues? How is that information shared with the rest of the team so no one makes the same mistake again?

If your employees are regularly working on initiatives or projects that others should be briefed on, it’s important to find a format that doesn’t result in stale, static content. You need a system that allows everyone to collaborate and to update and add context to existing knowledge.

Second, identify your pain points

Next, check in with your team and your partner departments for an assessment of the current situation. But don’t ask them if they want a knowledge management solution. Ask them:

  • Do you know where to find (this critical document/piece of information about your product or business)?
  • What’s the one place on the drive/in the system that you avoid going at all costs? Why?
  • If someone new joined your team tomorrow, how quickly could you pull together all the things they need to get ramped up?

Third, figure out what your non-negotiables are in a solution

Do you absolutely have to have Single Sign On (SSO)? Does your solution absolutely have to work with Slack or Jira?

If you aren’t sure, ask yourself what would shut your team or company down if a system or service was turned off.

For example, some companies are agile enough to replace a widely-used tool like Google Docs easily. They’d swap over to Word or Keynote, and not give it a second thought. Others would be shut completely down because they have no other tools to replace it.

If your company could survive without one of your core collaboration tools like Google Docs, then you don’t really need long-form, formal documentation or fancy tools. If you can’t, you know you have a dependence on structured content and communication.

Fourth, figure out what is on your nice-to-have list

Beyond your critical needs, think about what features you’ve seen in existing solutions or that your team members have mentioned that would take your solution to the next level, whether that’s added integrations, design features, security features, or other elements..

Finally, can you recruit a few people to help you?

Like cleaning out a storage closet or kids play area, it’s easier with a few helpers. Is there someone else in the company that’s reached the tipping point of being tired of the mess? Of the eye twitch that comes from trying to find something? That’s your buddy.

Recruit a partner to engage on the project, who can help with identifying your core needs and content gaps, selecting a solution, seeding it with existing content in a structured format, and engaging the rest of the team in using the tool.

Your company isn’t ready, but every individual is. No more search sigh.

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