In his blog post, 4 ways a startup can be backed by a knowledge management strategy, Darren Clay asserts that within a startup, “To make the flow of knowledge easy to share, transfer, and manage, KM has to be knitted into your growth strategy”.
It’s easy for people working in a crazy busy startup to think that KM is a process that can come later, but it’s actually critical that knowledge, whether “spontaneously generated” or “implicit” be captured for use by both employees and customers from the outset. Without formal mechanisms to share, transfer, and manage knowledge, a valuable commodity isn’t being leveraged.
Mr. Clay quotes a McKinsey article which reports that 20% of the average worker’s time is spent on looking for information about their own company, including internal expertise. That’s true for organizations in all stages of growth, not just startups.
Clay has identified four areas where knowledge management backs up a startup. These are:
- In your day-to-day activities
- In your onboarding strategy
- In your marketing strategy
- In your customer success strategy
Those knowledge management best practices aren’t just important in a startup context. There are analogous areas within large organizations that have special libraries or knowledge centers, and there are analogies within the special libraries or knowledge centers themselves. The four areas are also relevant if an agile organization is taking a project-based approach to KM, where knowledge management practices and tools are leveraged to support and document an initiative, a working group, an emerging practice or a new department.
A Day in the Life …
Special librarians and their users benefit from request management databases and directories of internal experts to help them know what has been worked on, what has been produced in the course of that work, and who knows what—capturing and accessing both explicit and tacit knowledge.
Onboard, the Training is Leaving the Station
Employees new to an organization can more quickly get up to speed, feel confident and contribute in all aspects of their roles when they know what resources they can access, where to find them, and to whom they can turn for guidance. If they can access all that knowledge through a single venue, such as the library page on the intranet, so much the better.
Special librarians can leverage their “user behavior knowledge base” (e.g., request management database statistics and Google analytics applied to the portal) to customize library products and services, and push them out to the right people, at the right time. This doesn’t require a totally new marketing initiative. You’re simply interpreting and acting on information you collect in the course of responding to requests, building the collection, and doing your budget analysis, to proactively give your customers what they need and thereby promote the library.
Make your users smarter
Special librarians help their users do the best job possible: to make informed decisions, act with confidence, respond more quickly, build their expertise, and ultimately serve the company’s clients better. Knowledge management best practices of collecting, organizing, sharing and continuously updating internal and external knowledge is fundamental to a special librarian’s role and impact.
Planning a KM initiative includes determining who will participate, which processes and tools are required, and how tools should be integrated.
Starting a KM program includes defining participants and roles, which basic processes are required, and how tools should support people and processes.
Knowledge managers should enlist support from top leaders in order to ensure the success of a KM implementation; 10 commitments to ask for
KM guru Stan Garfield provides specific examples of challenges and opportunities and how to turn them into knowledge management program objectives.