3 Critical Steps to Capture Knowledge

Knowledge management is an absolute challenge for today's leaders, and must be put on the top of their to-do list. With the Baby Boomers starting their exit from the workforce, the knowledge drain will create issues for companies. There is a big trend of startup techniques and lean short cycle development efforts ongoing today, however companies must capture their core knowledge to gain a competitive advantage. Our job as a leader is to leverage this trend, but do so without losing core business knowledge.

With the use of technology and leveraging lean startup techniques, Knowledge Management (KM) systems will provide us with a faster path to innovation within our established industries. KM is the key to the company’s execution engine. The proper capturing process and tools will allow the organization to:

  • Maximize reuse
  •  Improve the value added to the customer
  • Grow knowledgeable resources
  • Innovate faster
  • Increase efficiencies
  • Lower cost
  • Improve quality
  • Reduce risk.

If your organization executes by heroics, or in other words counts on particular resources with all the knowledge, you must change this environment. This change is very difficult as your resources with all the knowledge will protect this knowledge in fear of losing their leverage. Therefore, communicate to the organization to remove the anxiety about knowledge capturing. It is very important to change the way knowledge in managed so the expertise within the Baby Boomer population is secured for future needs. Here are three critical steps to attack KM:

  1. Re-engineer your process to focuses on documenting this knowledge every step of the way through the lifecycle of the project. Your goal must be to stabilize the process and deploy tools that standardize the capturing, facilitates the process, and manages the data. Cloud computing creates the environment for rapid development and sharing of critical knowledge, where rapid development needs rapid knowledge at our fingertips. 
  2. Empower your less experienced resources to capture the knowledge. Assign these resources to projects with the senior resources and allow them to do the documenting. They will provide great details within their documentation due to the lack of domain knowledge, and they learn from the senior resources and gain experience. This important step begins the transformation of KM. 
  3. Communicate, communicate, communicate! Communicate the importance of process and KM to the organization. Explain to the senior resources with all the knowledge that you do not want them doing the low value activities that come with not sharing the knowledge, but instead you would rather use them in a high value situation defining the high level solutions without implementing and adding low value. However, you need them to capture all their knowledge.

The exit of the Baby Boomers, which makes up the majority of the senior resources, is a critical piece of business today. The transformation of technology and resource skill sets allow us as an organization to gain advantages if we capture the core knowledge that provides value to our customers. A KM process is something that all leaders today should take advantage of. Most importantly we must stick with KM and lean development techniques as time will provide a competitive advantage and growth! 

What other critical steps do you feel we must take to capture knowledge? 

Keith R. Szewczyk

Global High Tech Executive, GM, Entrepreneurial Leader – Strategic Vision, Process Improvement, P&L, PLM, Sales Growth