Knowledge sharing would be easy if it were a set-it-and-forget-it affair. But the reality is that knowledge is shared on an ongoing basis.
Why companies are shifting to Q&A as the new format for knowledge management.
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That should be intuitive, but it is a point that many organizations miss. They implement knowledge management strategies that are poorly suited for sustaining constant, ongoing sharing of organizational knowledge.
Here’s how to avoid that pitfall and build a knowledge-management strategy that supports ongoing knowledge sharing:
The what and why of ongoing knowledge sharing
Ongoing knowledge sharing means what it sounds like: the ability to share information constantly, on a continuous basis.
Being able to share knowledge in an ongoing fashion is important for several reasons:
- Information is constantly changing. Whenever it changes, updated information must be reshared with people who rely on that information.
- It’s hard to know ahead of time with complete accuracy which information an employee or team might need to perform a certain task. Thus, the ability for that employee or group to ask for knowledge in order to gain clarifications or address needs that were not foreseen is critical.
- The back-and-forth sharing of knowledge between different members of your organization is how organic organizational knowledge is cultivated. It is only by being able to share new discoveries and feedback on a constant basis that you can keep organizational knowledge up-to-date and accurate.
The challenge of ongoing knowledge sharing
Again, it may seem intuitive that effective knowledge sharing should have these qualities. If you look at the ways in which many organizations manage internal knowledge, however, you’ll notice that their strategies do little to promote ongoing sharing of information.
For example, consider documentation databases. They may be a good way to document very specific technical information that does not change frequently, but if you rely on a centralized documentation database to store all internal knowledge, you will struggle with the inability to update that information quickly or improve it based on feedback from different members of your team. Instead, your knowledge base will be centralized and delivered from the top-down. You end up imposing knowledge on your employees rather than allowing them to cultivate it organically.
In other cases, organizations may think that they have achieved ongoing knowledge sharing because they rely on real-time (or near real-time) communication tools, like instant messages or face-to-face meetings, as the foundation of their strategy for sharing organizational knowledge. But real-time communication is not the same thing as ongoing knowledge sharing.
Ephemeral communication tools like instant messages and meetings are not a good way of recording and sharing information that needs to be retained for a long period of time; nor are they very effective for sharing knowledge across the organization, because the number of people you can effectively include in a meeting or instant message channel is limited. (Well, you could invite as many people as you want, but if you have company-wide meetings every week, you will probably waste a lot of time that your employees could spend working, and they may not pay much attention in a large group setting anyway. As for instant messages, it’s unlikely that everyone on your team will pay attention to mass communication channels.)
Effective strategies for ongoing knowledge sharing
In contrast to the solutions described above, an effective knowledge-sharing strategy is founded on knowledge management tools that are:
- Discoverable, so that anyone who needs information can easily find it.
- Collaborative, meaning that all employees or stakeholders can participate in building and improving organizational knowledge.
- Easily accessible to everyone who needs to be able to work with them.
- Able to store information persistently, but still flexible enough that information can be updated easily.
- Easily tailored to the individual needs of different teams or individuals when necessary.
Tools like documentation databases, instant messages, emails, or face-to-face meetings don’t have these qualities. Solutions like Stack Overflow for Teams do. By making it simple to record and share knowledge in a user-friendly, intuitive interface, and to update knowledge on a continuous basis, Teams enables a level of flexibility and dynamism that facilitates truly ongoing knowledge sharing.
See how Stack Overflow for Teams can transform collaboration within your organization.