As a small business owner you already have enough to manage, right? Yet developing effective knowledge management strategies can help your business or boutique agency achieve greater success. Let’s discuss what knowledge management means and how you can best incorporate it into your small business.
What is Knowledge Management?
You have plenty of business know-how. So does every individual employee that works in your small business. Each of you knows a great deal about, say, customer purchase habits, buyer personas, economic trends, manufacturing shifts, new product development, legal implications…yet how do you effectively bring all of this diverse knowing together as business knowledge?
Knowledge management organizes all the various sorts of business intelligence to drive success.
Yet many small businesses are held back in their knowledge management by the pressures of building the business while juggling many different responsibilities. Then, when new people are brought on to help drive company profitability, it’s a further struggle to onboard those individuals in a way that lets them take full advantage of pre-existing knowledge, while also learning what they can add to build competitive advantage.
5 Simple Steps to Better Knowledge Management
- Review your current knowledge sources. When it comes to knowledge management, you need to first identify all of your potential sources of company, customer, and competitor (also known as the 3 C’s) information. Review all of the ways this information is stored and used.
- Evaluate your current knowledge management. Determine the strengths and weaknesses of your system by asking yourself the following questions: a) What types of technology could you better integrate; b) Do you want to centralize information for employees to access as needed; and c) Are you overlooking sources of knowledge — vendors? new hires?
- Expand access to knowledge. Once you’ve identified opportunities for greater knowledge gathering, find ways to share, monitor, maintain, and retain learning. You might: a) Use software that helps you sort, store, and organize business knowledge; b) Break down silos between departments with virtual check-in meetings ensuring everyone has up-to-date information; and c) Educate your employees about the importance of collecting knowledge and optimizing its communication to drive strategy, innovation, and overall business success.
- Account for human nature. A challenge in knowledge management is people wanting to protect their territory. Some individuals fear that they will put themselves out of job by sharing information too freely. In this view, if they are the only ones who know a certain thing, the business can’t function without them. Or, perhaps, people don’t feel that their efforts to collaborate and share information are being appreciated. Communicate the benefits of the right hand knowing what the left hand is doing.
- Encourage sharing. Knowledge typically resides in people. This means your business needs to enable people to talk with the right other people to learn what they need to know. Internal websites and software like slacck can reduce the friction that is all too common in workplace communication.
You’ll see the benefits of knowledge management when you strategically communicate with one another and identify ways (including the right technology) to share, monitor and retain information. Encourage a company culture that not only fosters trust but also encourages ongoing learning to see competitive gains while driving business success.
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