in Small Business
Issue No. 2 - September/October 2001
Knowledge Transfer for Business Gain
by Jan Gaebler
When you need help, advice or accurate information at work, do you automatically know how to find it or who is the best person to ask? If the answer is no, your workplace may be suffering from what I call ‘knowledge lockout syndrome’.
Time and again, I come across instances where an organisation fails to acknowledge the key role of information as a strategic tool for business advantage. Worse, a few are still in the pre—Internet dark ages, the days when information was power. Employees at these companies think it is okay to hold information cards close to their chests and dribble information to colleagues. Inevitably with this scenario, the organisation becomes embroiled in internal power wars between departments, divisions and managers, which may result in reshuffling a few deckchairs, but rarely in sustainable business.
Thankfully, the Information Age we now live in has changed the playing field and withholding information is no longer the power advantage it used to be…sharing information is power.
In today’s information economy, information has value only if it can be used. If I have 10 employees who are experts in their fields, but they do not share their knowledge and experience with work colleagues, then those employees contribute very little towards organisational gain.
Technology has made it fairly easy to set up systems to store what is often termed explicit knowledge — rules, policies, work instructions, procedures, etc. The greater problem is working out how to capture tacit knowledge — the knowledge that employees hold in their heads, and is often more crucial in terms of organisational gain. When employees leave an organisation, they take their tacit knowledge with them.
The work environment of today is becoming more transitory and isolated. We don’t expect our employees to be working in the same organisation for the duration of their careers. Therefore, it is becoming increasingly more important to...