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LEARN KM Problem Areas of Knowledge Loss and Knowledge Retention

Problem Areas of Knowledge Loss and Knowledge Retention

If you study the problem areas which are to be solved using knowledge management solutions, loss of critical knowledge has been recognized as one of the central problems in an organization. One can really comprehend it, if one understands that knowledge and expertise once acquired do not necessarily remain at the disposal of organizations for all times to come. For this reason knowledge retention has won in stature and meaning in the recent past and is frequently leading to concrete projects in organizations. Knowledge collected over the years can be lost through a mere unnecessary reorganization or with the merger of different companies. Other circumstances such as job cuts, attrition, force the organizations to respond to impending knowledge loss. Otherwise it could lead to a collective loss of knowledge. Also the events like 9 / 11, where the whole teams or departments with their valuable knowledge were destroyed, make organizations more sensitive to the problem of knowledge loss. Retention of competencies and documents though require a more systematical management of knowledge, where adequate methods are used to bring the critical retained knowledge back into the organization.

Employees often use their precious time, which they require to fulfill their job requirements, for a futile search of knowledge. The required knowledge is somewhere in the organization but is not available when needed. Studies show that with the implementation of knowledge management solution, the productivity can be increased by 30 %.

Examples of missing Knowledge Retention

  • A number of employees, groups or departments in an organization work on similar problems. They do not know about the activities and expertise of the others. Result: Duplicate work.
  • One team has developed an extremely efficient system to solve their problems. Other employees in the same organization could profit from their method. However, there is no official policy to transfer this knowledge. Result: Knowledge cannot be used and will be forgotten in a short period.
  • An employee tries to negotiate a business transaction with a customer. But the deal does not come through. The report usually mentions that the transaction has fallen through. The reasons for this failure are not always documented and communicated. Result: Other employees do not learn from this experience.
  • A customer complains about a product but also gives suggestions for its improvement. This information is usually appreciated by the service department or call centre, but it is seldom communicated to the design or development departments. Result: Useful user related knowledge cannot be utilized for product enhancement.
  • A project has come to a conclusion. The project management has all the finding and results. But the whole business process with all the "trials & errors", the faults, the negative results and "lessons learned" are usually not documented. Result: Important expertise and knowledge cannot be communicated and transferred to other projects.
  • An employee is leaving the organization. His /her knowledge has not yet been transferred to the others. Result: Knowledge loss. For example, personal notes and documentation is also useless unless the others know about it and were trained to use these.
  • An employee suddenly gets ill. He / she is the only one, who through his / her experience know what to do when a certain machine is not properly functioning. Result: An expensive search for that expertise and knowledge.

Six Steps to successful "Sharing and Retention" of Knowledge using powerDOCUMENTS
Step 1: Identification of the "real" Problem.

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