That's how much time an employee spends each week looking for information, paper or digital, without finding it. This corresponds to 20% of his working time. Thus, insufficient knowledge management can have a major impact on people and organizations.
Before going further, it is important to distinguish tacit knowledge in companies, which is not formalized and is often held by people, from explicit knowledge, which can be formalized or codified. Although these two types of knowledge are interdependent, we will focus here on the management of explicit knowledge.
Beyond the time spent searching for information, the lack of formalization of explicit knowledge makes companies vulnerable to the departure of the people who hold it. Above all, a difficult access to the organization's knowledge strongly impacts the employee, his satisfaction and his efficiency. Coupled with the complexity of the information to be mastered, anxiety and frustration gain ground in the employee's mind and can demotivate him.
The potential impact on partners and customers is also significant. Indeed, poor communication with a customer can either disrupt a business relationship or discredit an employee or an organization. The risk for the employee is to lose confidence by getting into a spiral of failure from which it is difficult to get out because neither he nor his management is able to identify the causes.
So, why do organizations find it difficult to formalize, diffuse and capitalize on their own knowledge?
A lack of knowledge sharing culture
First of all, the lack of favorable conditions plays an important role in the formalization and dissemination of knowledge in companies. The ability of an organization to create a culture of sharing depends partly on the will of its management teams. Employees must be pushed to create knowledge to guarantee a continuous supply of the materials used. On the other hand, it is important to encourage sharing by limiting competition between employees and encouraging mutual support. The more competition there is between employees, the more knowledge is a competitive advantage and therefore the less advantageous sharing is perceived to be. Establishing a culture of sharing also greatly reduces the risk of losing knowledge due to turnover. Finally, knowledge sharing does not come naturally because it is rarely mentioned as a job task in its own right. It is generally perceived as an extra task. Expressing from the start that it is a task in its own right encourages employees to put it into practice.
Confusion between storing and sharing knowledge
Secondly, we note that organizations undertake knowledge sharing initiatives that are often incomplete. In particular, there is a lot of confusion between storing knowledge and sharing it. It is obviously essential to store the knowledge of employees and teams in common tools. However, storage is only the first step in the knowledge sharing process and is not sufficient in itself. When the process is incomplete, the organization is often faced with the progressive abandonment of formalization tools. The knowledge gradually wastes away and new informal flows are naturally organized.
Content that does not retain its context of use
Thirdly, it is essential to understand that the main value of content and explicit knowledge lies in its context of use. Without context, knowledge is difficult to mobilize effectively and tends to be abandoned. Knowledge cannot be static and must live and evolve. Moreover, knowledge can only live when it is embodied. Unfortunately, formalization tools often disembody knowledge because they are established independently of the people who handle it. In order to facilitate the sharing and use of knowledge, it is therefore essential to create bridges between the tacit knowledge held by experts and the explicit formalized knowledge.
Lack or absence of methodology
As a result, the methodologies adopted by organizations are often inadequate. In the worst cases, organizations do not follow a specific methodology and do not include future users in the decision-making process. A recurrent problem is that, due to a lack of methodology, the knowledge is too formalized and detailed, which makes it too complex and cumbersome to handle, preventing any possibility of adoption. In this case, we also notice a reconstruction of informal flows that are generally based on a few "pillar" people. Collective exercises and workshops are therefore essential to guarantee the interest of the approach.
In conclusion, it is essential for organizations to adopt a real methodology for formalizing and disseminating knowledge that integrates every employee concerned. The long capitalization process requires collective action through iteration so that the approach retains its value and is sustainable.
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