Part 2: How to Manage and Keep Your Company’s Deep Smarts

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We’ve talked in our previous article about the concept of deep smarts and saw how The World Bank paid a hefty price for implementing their first knowledge management system, $54.3 million to be more exact. Thanks to pioneers like them, today things are much simpler.

Let’s see what are the most used knowledge management systems and how to use them to keep your company’s deep smarts.

Best knowledge transfer practices

According to a study conducted by Raytheon Professional Services LLC and Training Industry, in which 74% of respondents were from companies with 500 employees or more, there are several knowledge transfer practices, including:

Work shadowing – Considered to be the most common practice, it requires an overlap of new and senior employees in a company, as the second category will share insights with the new members of the team.

Coaching – Also considered one of the most prevalent practices when it comes to knowledge transfer, by a number of employees very close to those mentioning work shadowing as the best one.

These two methods were the most popular knowledge transfer practices as revealed by the study, but respondents also mentioned several other ones:

Short-form content – Includes job aids or quick reference guides, which give employees all the information they need about the job they’re applying for, as well as the knowledge management system.

Paired work – One of the simplest transfer practice, putting together two employees, one of them with a wider experience and willing to ‘teach’ the other everything they should know.

Mentor networks – A method used for supplementing onboarding or knowledge transfer programs, consisting in a group of experienced employees, called mentors, offering insights and valuable tips to new employees.

Narrative transfer – An engaging and very easy to use and understand knowledge transfer method, used for delivering information and training, by simply relating about a company.

To summarize, we must admit that all the practices presented above are still viable, but, on the other side, 61% of learning leaders said their training organizations are very ineffective or somewhat ineffective at transferring knowledge from transitioning employees to their replacements.

So, what’s the best way to retain deep smarts?

After analyzing The World Bank’s experience with creating a knowledge transfer system, which was quite costly, it’s obvious that an integrated IT platform is much more efficient, from several points of view.

However, it’s worth mentioning that the concept of a knowledge sharing network isn’t something new: communities of practice or even British Petroleum’s virtual networks have been around since the ’90s. That already gave us an idea about how everything works and how knowledge sharing can help companies. But nowadays, given the proliferation of social media tools, there are quite a few question marks regarding the impact of knowledge sharing networks: Is there such thing as a payoff for individuals who are part of them? Do organizations benefit from supporting these tools?

Learning leaders cite the lack of a formalized knowledge transfer approach as their GREATEST knowledge challenge.

The benefits of knowledge management systems

Harvard Business Review tried to put together the benefits of adopting knowledge management in your company, after surveying 1200 HCL Technologies employees and analyzing their social networks and demographic data. Here’s what the results say:

  1. Knowledge management and collaboration systems allow employees to create a profile and list keywords associated with their expertise.
  2. Such systems are widely used in companies all over the world.
  3. Employees use these networks to broaden their skill sets, but also learn about upcoming opportunities.
  4. Employees who are part of such systems feel more loyal to an organization.
  5. Knowledge management networks allows innovation to increase.
  6. Employees who actively use the systems are more aware of their external environment.

In conclusion, implementing a knowledge management system in your company is the best way of managing and maintaining deep smarts within the organization.

Looking for a great way to ask questions and build knowledge with your co-workers? Quandora enables simple, efficient knowledge sharing with your team, way more fun than a mailing list or a forum. Try Quandora

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