One Common Model
Different authors have come back to a general concept along these lines:
- Instill a knowledge vision
- Manage the conversations
- Mobilize knowledge activists
- Create the right context for knowledge creation
- Globalize local knowledge
At AnswerHub, we try to work within all these areas on a regular basis, although the idea of “globalizing local knowledge” — essentially, making sure that certain bits of information aren’t tied up in one person’s head/e-mail — is one of the true value-adds of our software.
All the steps above are crucial, although the terminology can feel a little “business-school-y” from time to time. What exactly does it mean to “instill a knowledge vision,” for example? How do you “mobilize knowledge activists?” Let’s see if we can break this down into some day-to-day examples.
Simple Things We Can Do To Uncover Tacit Knowledge
- Set one meeting a week aside as Discovery Day: Have three people picked beforehand; their goal is to do five-minute presentations (no longer than that) on an aspect of work that isn’t part of the day-to-day grind but really intrigues them. After the 15 minutes of presenting, the other participants in the meeting go to one of the three presenters (whoever interested them most) and the presenters take their colleagues and explain the idea a bit more in depth. This is a way to promote the idea of learning, looking outside the day-to-day, and fostering discovery among employees.
- Set one meeting at the beginning of the month as a Gaps meeting: If you want to avoid this being a meeting, you can turn it into a Shared Doc/Tumblr/etc. Essentially, everyone is supposed to list some of the biggest knowledge gaps that prevented them from doing their best work in the previous month, as well as 2-3 new things they learned in the work context. If everyone contributes in the first five days of the month, you now have a picture of your biggest knowledge gaps — as well as what you’re doing well. You can plan for the coming month off of that!
- Lucky Lottery Partnerships: At the beginning of a six-week cycle, bring clusters of 25-50 employees together and draw them off in a lottery into groups of six-eight. Within the next six weeks, the newfound groups need to share new types of knowledge and demonstrate how they did so; this can be weekly meetings, coffee dates, a poster or white paper, or something else. It can feel like more work — that’s where you need top-down buy-in — but in reality, it helps cement a culture where pursuit of learning / new knowledge is paramount. That type of culture will thrive long-term.
- Pulse checks: The idea here is to quickly (brevity is a key) figure out how your people are most comfortable learning. Would they rather learn from peers, from experts? From SlideShares, from videos? In quick bursts or day-long seminars? Remember: a key differentiator between top companies (in terms of engagement) and low-ranking companies — and this is at any size — is the access to and context around new opportunities to learn/grow. Your employees want that to be provided, so you need to figure out what makes them learn the best.
- Process Software:The ultimate goal with tacit knowledge capture is taking local knowledge — only Bob knows how to do this, so when Bob is out of office or Bob takes another job, we’re doomed — and making it global knowledge. Software, like AnswerHub, can be a powerful tool for doing just that. The key elements therein are:
- Making sure Bob isn’t threatened and still realizes his value
- Figuring out the most comfortable way for everyone else to learn Bob’s skills
- Setting up a few different modalities/programs for Bob’s knowledge to be disseminated
- Creating organic communication channels where people can ask Bob questions
- Having a space where the shared knowledge is now physically shared.
In a five-step process (with help from technology), you just went from information silos and knowledge being contained locally to shared knowledge throughout your organization. It’s hard, but it’s definitely achievable
- See more at: http://answerhub.com/article/5-steps-to-tapping-into-your-tacit-knowledge