John Coles, Global Operations Knowledge Manager, NGA Human Resources
The secret to a successful organization is not the IP your organization creates. It is not the mavericks and heroes in your organization who come to the rescue. Success is not about the SMEs, gurus, go-to-people, or rock stars that make things click.
The secret of a successful organization is Re-Use
Re-Use is the bellwether metric of efficiency, and the changeagent for new, innovative ideas, and improvements. Effective Re-Use allows organizations to scale more efficiently, more intelligently, and compete more fiercely.
It is wonderful for your staff to apply process improvements, and generate new products and ideas. But if your project managers, sales people and service representatives are not ReUsing your Project Templates, Sales Templates, or Knowledge Base Articles, respectively, then what are they using to complete the work, make the sale, or answer the question? (Most likely, they are “reinventing the wheel,” and creating their own Knowledge Silos, leading to redundancies or worse—causing conflict and confusion in your organization).
The first questions to ask are—“where are our Knowledge Assets, and how often they are reUsed?” If you cannot clearly answer this, then your organization has a climate ripe for inefficiency.
Many leaders will dismiss this. They will point to their Knowledge Bases, Data Bases, or SharePoint repositories where this information is stored. Granted, the information and knowledge is stored there, but again, how do they know it is getting ReUsed? How are they measuring the ReUse of their most vital resource?
Measuring Re-Use allows an organization to embrace its identity, and its competitive differentiator. You can put numbers on the size of your organization, job descriptions, sales and performance outputs; but are you measuring the “organizational knowledge” being ReUsed? Are you measuring what knowledge is being created, or modified? Do you know how many knowledge assets your organization has?
Industry studies report that your employees spend “at least” 20 percent of their week finding the right answer. Given all of the new technologies over the past 25 years, the results of this report remain the same. Today, successful organizations are strategically addressing this inefficiency, providing an edge for them to compete over the next 10 years. Trimming the inefficiency by 1 percent (24 minutes a week per employee) across 10,000 employees will return approximately 200,000 work hours to your organization.
Keep in mind, improving ReUse and the flow of knowledge across your organization is not a simple, one-off project. It is not a top-down mandate. It requires change management, and some say, a change in culture. If you need a place to start, begin small. Focus on one department or group and understand their “knowledge watering-holes” by identifying: • Where their Knowledge Assets are located. • Who are the Go-To People, and the unofficial Subject Matter Experts.
After taking inventory of your organizational “knowledge watering-holes,” you will want to understand the flow of the work, and cross-measure it with ReUse of your Knowledge Assets, as well as Creation and Modification. Analysis will show trending information of what is getting used, lend insight to what is not getting used, and uncover some valuable hidden knowledge gold.
In addition to measuring Knowledge, you will need to recognize employees for their participation and contribution. (Note: Knowledge Recognition programs should not stand on their own, and should be cross-referenced with the employees Performance and Productivity Measures).
Additional ingredients are required to drive ReUse such as a coaching or support network, some new skillset,and building the ROI model. Most importantly, improving ReUse, and managing knowledge across your organization requires your leadership.
Increasing ReUse is not difficult, but it can stress and test your organization’s culture and dynamics. I encourage you to reach-out to a Knowledge Management professional to learn more.