Often in the conversation of instruction, especially in the corporate context, the conversation of implementing effective knowledge management falls by the wayside. This is an important conversation not only for effective knowledge transfer, but even for sustainability of the company. Think about it: how often is it that a few key people hold a sizable amount of “tribal” knowledge (knowledge that is not documented and usually practiced by a few key individuals) about important processes?
- How do we extract that knowledge from the individuals?
- How much of that knowledge do we extract and how much do we rebuild?
- How can we organize and distribute the extracted knowledge?
- How do we make the extracted knowledge accessible to others?
These are all questions you must think about if you are in charge of knowledge management. And, the larger the mental library of tribal knowledge, the more daunting the task can become.
When this issue presented itself previously, the first question we had to answer was do we have a tool to aid us in this process? We did. Atlassian Confluence served as our internal wiki, but until that time, it was unused by our BU for anything other than scant technical documentation. It checked many boxes:
- it is inaccessible by our client base (on the VPN)
- it allows a customizable structure
- it has privacy features
- it allows commenting
- most importantly, it has versioning and drafting features
Next, we had to determine which knowledge would be stored in our wiki. We decided that only knowledge that should not be available to the client base, as we had a separate tool to document features and post client-facing documentation.
Then, we decided that we did not want to be the managers of content. In the interest of a true wiki, we enabled internal teams on how to contribute to the wiki and provided a template for them to post content. Otherwise, we would have needed a full-time resource to update and manage the wiki on our own. We were, however, owners of the content structure. If the structure needed to be modified, teams contacted us with requests.
The wiki has been very successful because it is consistently updated and monitored. The key to any knowledge management process, whether it is backed by technology or not, is consistency in gathering content and delivering content.