Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.
Deb works in accounting for a large office supply company with many locations and warehouses across the United States. She has been there for 20 years, and just announced that she is leaving the company at the end of this year. Now management is scrambling trying to figure out what knowledge Deb has that might need to be passed along to a new employee.
One of the tasks that only Deb knows is the payroll system. Yikes! Without Deb's knowledge, it will be far more complicated to get everyone paid on time. What the company needs to follow is a knowledge sharing system to transfer Deb's understanding to future workers.
What Is Knowledge Sharing?
Knowledge sharing is the act of exchanging information or understanding between individuals, teams, communities or organizations. Knowledge may be explicit (procedures and documents) or tacit (intuitive and experience-based). Sharing knowledge is an intentional process that not only bolsters an individual's understanding, but helps create or enhance an archive of accessible knowledge for others.
The concept of knowledge sharing is important because it helps individuals and businesses be more agile and adaptable in the face of change, and helps ensure continued growth and survival.
Think about it this way: If you're the only person at work who understands the company's filing system, and something happens to you (e.g., you become ill, lose your job or relocate), who will have knowledge of the filing system? The answer is no one, unless you've engaged in the process of knowledge sharing to pass along what you know.
Knowledge sharing can be achieved in a number of ways, from writing a book or manual to delivering a presentation to having an informal chat during lunch or offering mentoring or job shadowing opportunities.
The Knowledge Sharing Process
The knowledge sharing process relies on a few key ingredients:
- Articulation: Defining what knowledge needs are present.
- Awareness: Knowing what knowledge is available and what is necessary.
- Access: Being able to get to the knowledge.
Knowledge sharing first begins with defining who the actors are. No, these aren't actors like you see on television, but rather the key players who possess the knowledge and those who need the knowledge.
The next step is about identifying what the learning needs are. Are there processes and procedures that some actors have that others need to know? Where are the gaps in learning? What information is important to pass along or make available?
Once you know the actors and the learning needs, it's time to identify where the key sources of information exist. Are they in manuals or written processes, or are they intuitive and/or known only to certain workers? Some knowledge is best retrieved through hands-on participation alongside the knowledge carrier.
When you know where the knowledge is, it's time to figure out how best to extract it. For example, is it better delivered in a presentation, through hands-on interaction or written into manuals or handbooks?
The last thing to consider in the process is what resources will be necessary to turn the knowledge gathered into actionable steps for future planning and implementation.
Knowledge sharing is the act of exchanging information or understanding between individuals, teams, communities or organizations. Knowledge can be explicit, appearing in manuals or documents, or tacit, which is intuitive or implied through one person's knowledge base and must be shared through hands-on experiences. The knowledge sharing process requires a few key elements, including articulating knowledge needs, being aware of what knowledge is available, and having access to retrieve the knowledge. The knowledge sharing process is pretty straightforward, starting first with figuring out who the key players are, followed by identifying the learning needs required. Then, you can identify where the information exists and how to retrieve and save it. Finally, you can determine what additional resources are necessary for turning the knowledge into actionable steps going forward.
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