Tribal knowledge is undocumented company information. Typically, the best way to learn the ropes in a new company is to find the person who has been there the longest and “pick his or her brain.” However, it’s not a very scientific approach — and it leaves company leaders vulnerable to losing information to retirement and staff turnover.
Employee experience in the workplace carries crucial knowledge about the history, unspoken rules, and processes that have helped the company grow over time. In the same way that we emphasize saving the data found in documents, storing and sharing the intellectual capital found in a company is imperative.
Without a systematized way to capture the shared processes, documents, and information your employees “just know,” an organization can easily become more inefficient and siloed. If employees’ minds house corporate information and they leave, what happens to that data?
Capturing tribal data
Companies lose the competitive edge when executives don’t capture, evaluate, and act upon available data. But what happens when much of the data they need to be effective is in their employees’ minds and not in a shared knowledge pool?
Employees are knowledge assets and, housed within their shared experiences, execs can find a wealth of important corporate data that may — or may not — be saved externally. What they “just know,” includes:
- Knowledge of equipment, including hardware and software.
- Information on vendors, suppliers, and other resources important to business.
- Familiarity with documents and processes.
- Understanding of customers and historic interactions with them.
Employees house two primary knowledge types:
- Tacit knowledge is information not documented anywhere but just a part of the employee experience.
- Explicit knowledge is documented information.
Tacit knowledge is always individualized and unique to the person holding the information. What would happen to all this important intellectual capital if the person didn’t show up for work tomorrow?
How to protect knowledge assets
Capturing each employee’s tacit knowledge is a high priority for leaders of many organizations. If they don’t capture it, that know-how leaves the company bereft of an organizational history — as if the preceding years never existed. For new employees with no resource for tacit knowledge, doing their jobs may require them to seek to find missing information and recreate resources from scratch. This is a huge and frequent time-waster in many organizations, but many execs fail to act upon this area of vulnerability — until an employee leaves. By then, it’s too late. They’ve already lost valuable information.
Knowledge management (KM) is a process designed to create an organizational framework for tacit knowledge and a method for sharing it across a company. The process has been professionalized in software tools designed specifically to create, share, and use the human collective expertise housed in an organization. Executives benefit from KM software because it increases employee productivity and efficiency while streamlining communications across an entire organization.
So, how do you pass human knowledge on? Ikaun is a comprehensive knowledge management tool you can use to gain a competitive advantage for your company. Contact us for more information or to begin your free trial.
Ikaun was built to help organizations easily create, discover, and use knowledge to enhance employee productivity and increase business outcomes.
Leverage your organization's collective experience for better decision making; easily search for internal experts by skill sets, industry expertise, and more.
Ikaun’s Intelligent-Knowledge-Assistant searches through your ikaun environment and other connected systems to help answer FAQs, find people, find assets, or support complex research scenarios.
Create easy-to-read profiles that include biography, skills / expertise, employment history, certifications, affiliations and other key information about your employees.
Organize and populate knowledge into a consolidated page that can be shared internally or externally with clients.
Deploy knowledge campaigns to inform employees about active pursuits, new clients, or firm news.
Connect your document management systems, CRM, and other popular applications with ease and confidence.