Top Tips to Preserve Captured Institutional Knowledge

  • from ITtoolkit.com

Image of notebook page with hand drawing of an idea plus a piece of crumpled paper, signifying the need to capture knowledge.

In the first part of this institutional knowledge series, we explored the value of IT-IK, along with a review of the three (3) steps required to "recognize, capture and integrate".  Continuing the discussion, this segment lays three (3) must-do tips for preserving captured knowledge and maximizing available benefits.  Continue reading for more.

Tip #1 - Make Institutional Knowledge a "Standard"

Make the search for institutional knowledge a regular part of your IT management program and strategic IT management vision:

  1. Train staff to follow all institutional knowledge requirements and procedures.
  2. Set aside sufficient time in all work schedules to participate and execute the knowledge activation process.
  3. Set appropriate standards for preparing and contributing to the IT-IKC (institutional knowledge catalog).
  4. Establish both formal and informal mechanisms for process participation (from scheduled knowledge reviews to brown bag lunches devoted to knowledge topics).

Tip #2: Set an Appropriate Tone for Optimal Knowledge

The most effective "institutional knowledge" will be honest, accurate and inclusive (even if that means it is also painful).  To ensure these results, active and open participation must be encouraged and welcomed.

  1. Multiple points of view should be included as knowledge records are created, even if they differ from accepted conclusions.
  2. Change should be expected and embraced.  When new information becomes available, existing knowledge records should be updated to reflect new perspectives.
  3. Knowledge records should not be etched in stone.  Conventional wisdom must be challenged to avoid unwarranted limitations on innovation and growth.
  4. Be wary of the "not invented here syndrome".  External experiences (from outsiders) can be used to weigh the validity of internal perspectives.

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Tip #3:  Motivation is the Key to Preservation

It takes people and participation to create a viable catalog of institutional knowledge.  And human nature being human nature, at times, people might be reluctant to share.  After all, knowledge is power, so why relinquish either one?  Reluctance to participate can be seen amongst entrenched employees (to preserve the status quo), departing employees (to take knowledge with them) and even new employees (unfamiliar with the political landscape).

That's the key obstacle that must be overcome (and motivation is the key):

  1. Focus on legacy building as a means of encouraging process participation.
  2. Recognize and reward employees for knowledge contributions.
  3. Make participation a part of employee performance expectations and review accordingly.
  4. Invite new employees to participate and share their own experiences, incorporating into the existing "body of knowledge" as needed and appropriate.
  5. Lead by example - participate in the knowledge process in a open, honest manner as often as needed and appropriate.

Summary

  • Institutional knowledge in the IT management context is the collective wisdom, insight, expertise, judgment and awareness gained from actual "in the field" experience.
  • Institutional knowledge is activated (becoming an operational asset) through a three (3) phase process to recognize, capture and integrate.
  • The IT-IKC (IT Institutional Knowledge Catalog) is the primary deliverable used to create a useable record of captured knowledge.
  • Institutional knowledge is best preserved when standards are set, conventional wisdom is challenged, and the knowledge contributors (your team) are motivated to participate.

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