In my last post, I talked about how difficult it can be to get started on the “knowledge mountain”, that feeling when you are staring at piles of documents, wiki entries and scribbled “Post-It’s” – not to even mention the critical information that only lives in the heads of staff members.
The 80/20 Rule
My approach to this is to apply the oft-quoted “80/20 rule” (more formally known as the “Pareto Principle“) that seems to apply to almost everything in life. For knowledge management, this means that to get started, you should actually focus on bringing together the information that you are using every day – that most people regularly ask about. This is the “80” – most of your interactions, maybe even 80% of them – will use the same knowledge over and over again. When you start to look at it, you’ll see that only a small part of your company knowledge maybe even just 20% of it (that’s the “20” of course) is needed to answer these.
It’s ironic that in most businesses the knowledge contained in this 20% is often “so obvious” that even though it’s often the first thing new employees have to learn – actual documentation is often hard to find (perhaps buried in that training manual that new employees read once and stuff in a bottom drawer), out of date, or even not there at all. It’s also the thing that’s the hardest to change – because it relies on organisational “muscle memory” rather than process. If you’ve ever looked at why something went wrong, and had a staff member say “but we’ve always done it that way!” – then you’ve experienced this.
Starting the Journey
Our experience has shown that putting your early focus on this 20% chunk of your knowledge is definitely where you should start your journey up the mountain. But how?
If you have nothing at all written down, there’s a bit of work to do – but it’s actually not hard work in most cases!
- Start by making a short “bullet point list” of the things you get asked about or do most frequently.
- Don’t make this list too long! It’s important that it’s just things you need regularly – depending on your business this may be every day, or perhaps every week or every month (if you’re dealing with payrolls or invoicing for example)
- Write down just the information that you need to answer the question.
- If it’s customer facing, try to write the instruction in “first person” – that is, in a way that your team can just “read it out”.
Now you can of course do this on paper, in a document or spreadsheet – or you could get yourself even further ahead and enter this directly into SenseIQ.
If you do already have some documentation, maybe in a document or spreadsheet – or even a public facing website (maybe you have FAQs on your web page, or a suppliers website that your team often reference) then you can get a head start on the process above – this is where SenseIQ Smart Import feature comes in.
Smart Import will take any document (MS Word, MS Excel, PDF), or any publicly accessible website, and will intelligently go through the document and look for questions and answers, and convert these into SenseIQ articles so that you can update and share them. It really is like magic and can move you up the knowledge mountain in no time at all!
Obviously, the 80/20 rule still applies – so the documents you import should be those that match your every day needs, rather than those more complex and less frequently used items. By using these existing resources to get your first set of knowledge online, you’ve made that first critical step on your journey, and on your way to knowledge management success!
Steve from SenseIQ