Case Study of 
Knowledge Management

How to keep your corporate knowledge with an aging workforce, changing values, and a continuous automatization?

 

A significant part of essential corporate knowledge is informal. From the answers to the questions why and in what context to the "big picture", fundamental knowledge required to understand the inner and outer workings of an organization needs to be maintained, adapted, and expanded continuously. 

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How to keep your corporate knowledge with an aging workforce, changing values, and a continuous automatization?

 

A significant part of essential corporate knowledge is informal. From the answers to the questions why and in what context to the "big picture", fundamental knowledge required to understand the inner and outer workings of an organization needs to be maintained, adapted, and expanded continuously. 

 

Our partner, a leading organization in public transportation, faces a situation familiar to many established corporations: Permanent changes in its organizational structure, an aging workforce, and introduction of processes and changed patterns of how people work together to result in an accelerating loss of knowledge.  

Anticipating the upcoming loss of knowledge, the organization decided to engage the challenge actively, launching a corporate-wide knowledge management program. Here's what we've learned from our collaboration over the past two years: 

  • Focus on what is relevant: the answer to the questions why and in what context. All other information is well documented yet of little use if not put in context. 

  • Align with strategy: formalizing and maintaining knowledge is expensive. We put the required business capabilities to execute the corporate strategy in the center of our efforts. From there, we expanded to what's essential to run the business for the next decades.

  • Knowledge is only put to use if acquired by employees. And employees will integrate new knowledge only if it is - or seems - relevant to their roles and interests.

  • Time is expensive, the attention-span short. Make sure that your knowledge is easy to read and understand. Adapt your language to the targeted audience, eliminate abbreviations use images and videos if possible. 

  • Put your employees in charge: the initial focus on a "Programm" backfired spectacularly. Mangers quickly delegated responsibilities to the program. That's when we started with a community and network-based approach, focusing on a learning organization and allocating responsibilities to where it belongs: to all carriers of knowledge. 

  • Network organizations are decentralized and independent. All methods and tools must be capable of dealing with it. We've focused on a common standard and embedded an intelligence approach we've developed at the Center of Security Studies and Conflict Research at the Federal Institute of Technology, Zürich Switzerland, back in 2001. 

  • Make their lives easy (and yours harder). Writing down knowledge is hard and time-consuming. Any reason to distract or move-on to another topic is often welcome. Our program's efforts focus on reducing any hurden encountered, making compiling knowledge smooth and positively experienced. To achieve it, we've build-up a network of coaches and helping-hands, all part of the different knowledge-management communities. 

  • Tools need to serve the purpose; knowledge needs to build-up in brains, not computers. With thousands of knowledge - parcels identified and many more to come, we needed a simple tool to navigate and immerse into the knowledge, making it easy to process and learn. Together with our experts, we've developed methods and tools to identify, process, make available, and distribute the knowledge. 

  • Establish a culture of knowledge sharing and learning. Here we've been lucky, as this kind of culture is an essential part of the public transport system. We never had arguments about why sharing knowledge is critical.

  • Give back more than you get. Make contributors visible, don't pay for knowledge. Managing knowledge is a long-term effort; hence incentives must be aligned to work on an extensive time-scale. 

 

How we do it? 

We work with an extensive network of partners and friends. People we trust and that share the same passion for holistic thinking and finding unique solutions that fit the challenges faced by our clients. 

 

Are you interested in finding an outcome to a challenge that will differentiate your business from your competitors, gaining a leading each on crucial issues? 

Please get in contact with us.