Knowledge is important for an organisation because it drives decisions and actions. Knowledge management is a term often used to describe the communication and documentation of knowledge in a way that people can use in their day-to-day activities. In successful cases, knowledge management combines old, already existing knowledge with new aspects in a way that drives innovation. Knowledge management also deals with the transferal of knowledge and what can be done so that person A is able to successfully share information with person B.

In the module «Knowledge Management» with Alexander Stocker we discussed a lot about the success factors of knowledge management. In this blogpost, I would like to share with you my own case study about an organisation with problems regarding information flow.

Case study: How to share information about success stories

In the duration of our course we took a closer look at an organisation with a quite familiar problem. Over the years, increasing numbers of employees had joined the organisation and with every new person it became more difficult for new people to orientate themselves and to find the right person with the relevant expertise. Whilst there were many tasks completed and many activities done, it proved difficult to deliver the success stories to the communications team in sufficient time so that they could be used effectively. The de-centralised structure of the organisation made it even more difficult to establish a regular flow of information.

The first step: Analyse your business problem

In our group, comprising of three students, we really took our time to analyse the business problems in depth. How can the challenge be described? What further problems might be related to the sharing of information and do we want to tackle these questions in our recommendations? What old instruments (meetings, emails to all those responsible) are already in place and are they working or if not, why? In the end and after several discussions at the coffee machine we decided to focus on the problem of information flow regarding success stories, which can be used for brand communication. Another problem we identified was the orientation of available skills and who is competent at what, e.g. when journalists call and ask for expert interviews, who should they deal with? Since this problem was considered to be related to the first challenge of establishing good information flow for certain topics and stories, we decided to have a closer look at this challenge too. Our first analysis showed that the policies in place are not yet taking advantage of new technologies for knowledge management. Our group decided to tackle this question in a long-term plan.

Stakeholders: Who they are and what do they need?

After the analysis of the business problem, we identified internal stakeholders to find out what their interest in success stories would be. Are they affected by the identified business problem in their daily work? Or are they needed more to solve the problem? And if they can contribute to the solving of the problem,what are their benefits? This important question is often neglected, but as soon as you ask people to do something extra, you also have to think about what you can give them in return, be it advice on how to sell the story or how to reach more people through better communication etc.

As I guess it is with every project, we quickly discovered a group of stakeholders who we were missing information about . They were unemployed, volunteers who are often in touch with the organisation, but we didn’t have information regarding their need for knowledge exchange or their capacity for creating stories. In the future, this knowledge gap should be closed through investigative research.

Methods chosen

In this short blogpost I cannot elaborate on every detail we discussed, but I would like to introduce to the reader to three formats we found suitable to tackle the problems:

World Café

In this workshop several people split up into small groups to discuss certain questions. With this method we dug deeper into the identified questions, while finding out how to better share stories of success in the process. We pondered on the following questions; What knowledge is readily available and who owns it? What is the experience with the current policies in place? How much time would people think they could spend in sharing stories and what benefit do they expect? How do stakeholders want to share knowledge?

Map of competencies

A map of competencies is used to write down the relevant skills and competencies in an organisation. In our group we decided that a map with skills and competencies can be useful when looking for an expert to interview. This tool would be even more relevant if it could be related to other projects the person was doing. If so, this would also benefit other stakeholders, e.g. looking for a person in another region who was also working on similar projects. The map of competencies can also enable and aid the transfer of knowledge.

Jour fixe

Regularity in communication exchange is key and nothing helps more than to keep information flowing through the responsibility of one person in the group who ensures regular meetings are maintained. We decided that there should be a regular, on- or offline face-to-face meeting with key stakeholders. These short meetings should not require much preparation time and after each session short notes in the form of minutes can be easily shared with those who could not participate.

Social Intranet

From a long-term perspective, our group decided that a social intranet could improve information flow as well as the sharing of knowledge. Instead of atop-down communication model, a social intranet is a bottom-up tool where the collaborative aspect is at the forefront. Dialogue and internal search are key and best would be that it would be available over a broad spectrum of devices. A social intranet could also be a good place for “gamification”. e.g. exclusive pictures from activities in the field could be shared with the chance to win a prize when the comments rise, etc.

For further information check out the links below

More about my colleagues Elisabeth Hiesmayr perspective on our group work

More about the module «Knowledge management» in the master content strategy