Stop the Brain Drain: Critical Knowledge is Walking out Your Door Everyday

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August 27, 2014

Copyright 2014 ProQuest Information and Learning All Rights Reserved Copyright 2014 Technology Marketing Corporation

Knowledge certainly doesn't walk, but people do, and with them goes the intelligence they develop and retain from years of building your brand. This tribal knowledge is one of your most important assets. Equally important are the documents and materials in people's bags and home computers when they exit. What should you do about this challenge?

Capture the tribal knowledge

This may be the most difficult task you take on next to building your brand. Why? Because it's typically not documented, and it's time consuming to extract. Consider these steps:

  • Identify the key roles of individuals who possess valuable knowledge such as engineers, product management, marketing, process owners, customer interaction managers and many IT professionals.
  • Make a list of these individuals before they consider leaving the organization. Also identify people who have left and consider bringing them in as contract resources.
  • Inform them about the need to capture their corporate intelligence and incent them to participate in a process to capture the most important knowledge they believe the company needs to have.
  • Develop a capture process. Create a team with templates to interview and document information— this will be unique to your organization.
  • Ask individuals in these key roles to document critical information in parallel with interviews—a stream of thought approach is often necessary.
  • Identify a repository, catalog, tag and store the information for access by an enterprise knowledge management system enabled by knowledge management tools.
  • Keep the capture process alive and make it part of how the organization operates.
  • Start a project to develop a Knowledge Centered Support (KCS) process following the methodology from the Consortium for Service Innovation The KCS model is the recommended approach for establishing a culture based on capturing, authoring, and managing knowledge.

Managing and capturing tribal knowledge will continue to be a challenge. Implementing an enterprise approach to knowledge management will significantly reduce the problem.

Protecting your knowledge assets

As you continue to manage the tribal knowledge challenge, don't forget about the paper and terabytes of electronic information scattered around the organization. Paperbased knowledge is high risk and the biggest opportunity. Identify paper sources such as:

  • Individual file drawers with product information, business process data and other forms of information assets—reach out to employees to identify these sources.
  • Manuals with product and instructional information.
  • Parts books and related materials that contain product details.
  • Marketing materials created using outside resources that may be electronically available.

So what to do with the paper? Establish resources and a process to scan and electronically capture and store this information. Use the same cataloging and tagging process discussed for tribal knowledge.

Sidebar: The Value Proposition—Why The Effort is Worth It

Here are some compelling facts about the benefits of knowledge management. By harnessing knowledge, companies are able to:

Solve cases and incidents faster

  • 50-60% improved time to resolution
  • 30-50% increase in first contact resolution
Optimize use of resources
  • 70% improved time to proficiency
  • 20-35% improved employee retention
  • 20-40% improvement in employee satisfaction

Enable eservices strategy

  • Improve customer success and use of web self-help
  • Up to 50% case deflection

Build organizational learning

  • Actionable information to product development about customer issues
  • 10% issue reduction due to root cause removal

Capturing knowledge that's walking out the door and obtaining and managing other tribal knowledge leads to benefits in productivity, efficiency and customer satisfaction. We have learned that effective knowledge management directly impacts the customer experience and ultimately strengthens your brand. That's what matters the most.

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