Knowledge Management and the Internet

Every manager has a blog, every leader has a Twitter account or online profile with constant updates. Yet the information that is the lifeblood of the business, from quality circles to technical lessons learned, rarely make it to the front page of the internet or corporate intranet. How can your company use the internet or intranet to improve knowledge management?

  • Balance need to know with need to share. Recognize that not everything needs to be shared, whether due to security concerns, IP rights or lack of importance.
  • Set up a scheme to categorize information so that it is easily found later. This could include online communities for professionals in a specific area, tagging all entries, balance SEO with the actual content’s ideal reader base and search friendly metadata.
  • Archive data as it ages, but don’t assume that newer information is automatically superior to prior entries.
  • Make comments, discussion threads and wiki searchable. However, don’t let search results neglect to bring up the article itself.
  • If you have a pay-wall, ensure that the metadata and description is a good enough synopsis that customers don’t have to pay to find out that the article is of no use to them.
  • Repost useful articles to share information to newcomers to a knowledge sharing community.
  • Ensure that new people know about all of the resources available before they start asking, “How do I find this?” Never assume they can find the online training on how to search your knowledge base.
  • Create frequently asked questions sections. Then actually maintain them, as new questions rise in prominence.
  • Don’t assume that a Twitter feed or blog necessitates frequent posts, even if the content is not useful.
  • Recognize when an online argument is personal instead of a professional disagreement, and kill it before it spreads through corporate social media sites or online forums.
  • Find ways to test competing ideas simultaneously in a supervised manner, instead of letting arguments ride on and on. Then track their progress so that everyone learns from the experience.
  • Minimize the fluff. This includes eliminating buzz words that sound good but add little to the content and preventing informational articles from containing more advertising than content.
  • Rein in the tendency to verbosity and letting one article ramble so that it covers multiple subjects, but none in detail.
  • Limit musings, but realize that short postings on thoughts on a subject may be valuable. But not every valuable insight needs to be stretched out into a 500 word article.
  • Appreciate cross-functional readers. Ask them for suggestions and input; many of the greatest inventions and insights come from novel points of view. And cross-functional readers are informed readers who give that insight.
  • Encourage those who have front line positions on the shop floor or working with customers to share their work experiences and lessons learned, far beyond the “I love this job, it is great to work here” filler articles that are on many company blogs. What have the employees on the front lines learned, and what do they want other employees to know?
  • Engage those close to retirement, encouraging them to share wisdom before they leave. Ensure that knowledge is spread far beyond that person’s mentor-mentee relationship, and publish it in a knowledge repository accessible to all employees.