Stopping knowledge leaving with the person

How do I engage employees and improve collaboration? is a question I have been addressing in my posts Make a newbie welcome and more engaged,, Integrating and engaging a newbie How an engaged newbie can become a top performer, A top performer’s career development and 3 steps to making it easier for top performers to share knowledge.

My last post in this series will cover what happens to the knowledge of an experienced top performer when they leave an organisation.

Physical and digital assets

It is a common problem as I know from personal experience.  An organisation will closely track all the physical assets that you hold – computer, phone, car, etc, – and want them returned before you leave.

But your digital assets and your intellectual assets are rarely managed so the knowledge about how your work is carried out – processes, priorities,etc. – and the right contacts are lost to your successor (if your replacement has not been recruited), your manager and other people you work with.

How can organisations retain your knowledge better?

Leslie has decided after many years excellent service that a career move outside the organisation is the next step to take.  Leslie has many years experience of how the organisation works.  Leslie has worked on many projects.  More importantly there are many nuggets of knowledge Leslie has learnt and used to perform so well.  Who are the ‘right people’ to contact when you need help on different subjects?  How is the best way to get approval for a project when you are not certain you have all the information to support you?  What are the best shortcuts that cut out some of the worse processes? (we can all think of at least one can’t we!)

The main aim of the organisation is to have Leslie’s knowledge already stored in its digital workplace and have a governance framework to manage that knowledge so it continues to be available after Leslie has left.  This means Leslie leaves but not Leslie’s knowledge.  Bingo!

SharePoint 2010

There are many examples of how this can be done in a practical way.  I will use SharePoint 2010 because I am familiar with it.

You need a knowledge management strategy that is aligned to your organisation’s values that knowledge is an important asset.

The governance framework that SharePoint 2010 fits within helps to separate personal from business information.

MyProfile contains all the personal information about Leslie – contact no., home address, manager, reporting lines, personal blog.

MySite contains other information that is personal to Leslie but is available if people need to find out more about Leslie to see if Leslie is in fact the best person to ask about a subject or not.

TeamSite has all the business information contained in the various projects, discussion groups, policy sites and functional areas of responsibility Leslie is involved with.  This is where the rich knowledge is managed.

The governance framework ensures all the TeamSites are clearly owned and the information is reviewed in line with an Information Retention policy.  Permissions are set so employees can see or not see the content, perhaps edit some or all the documents or even create new documents.  SharePoint 2010 is very flexible in how you can configure it.

Good knowledge management

When Leslie leaves, Leslie’s MyProfile and MySite will be removed.  This has personal information only.

All the TeamSites that Leslie has contributed to remain and will continue to be managed in line with the needs of the business.

This ensures the knowledge that Leslie has does not leave as well but is kept for future use.

4 responses to “Stopping knowledge leaving with the person

  1. This is all true and relevant to any intranet. I think intranets should be rich enough to cope with knowledge management and intranet managers should build the KM strategy into their content strategy (or vice versa, if you’re old skool).

    Everyone needs to accept that knowledge, information and intranets need managing, and managing is a continuous matter, not just something for set-up and launch. It does take some time, but that’s the job, that’s the requirement.

    Mark, the actions needed for things like ‘MyProfile’ can be broadened just by talking about a person’s Profile.

    Nice comment system – log in was a breeze.

  2. Wiki’s are another option for capturing and retaining knowledge. I spoke to a Rail company last week whose Train Operatives store ‘How to’ notes in a corporate Wiki, this information is then re-used for training, health & safety and updating policies and guidelines.

  3. Pingback: Geheime informanten bij Google, weet wat je collega doet, en meer | Twan van Elk

  4. Practical knowledge management. As I read the post I thought how much this stuff will soon move the mainstream and also how painful a journey it will be for some organisations. The technology sounds great, as Mark expalins it, harder I think if you are stuck in a different sort of worldview about information management and technology. Next post must explain how to get IT and line managers to adopt these kind of practices:)

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