Your organization possesses a lot of valuable knowledge, from intellectual property to the individual expertise of different team members. And unfortunately, your company will never recognize the full value of this collective knowledge if employees lack easy ways to share, access, collaborate across, and leverage it.
That’s where a knowledge engagement strategy comes in.
A knowledge engagement strategy is the planned and documented approach an organization takes to centralizing knowledge and turning it into a renewable resource. Implementing a knowledge engagement platform like Bloomfire can be an essential part of a knowledge engagement strategy, but your strategy should also factor in the change management required to drive desired behaviors, as well as a plan for measuring and reporting on your success.
The process of developing a knowledge engagement strategy—and ensuring its long-term success—requires six key steps.
Ready to get your company’s knowledge engagement strategy off the ground? Download our Ultimate Knowledge Engagement Workbook for a step-by-step approach.
1. Identify Your Knowledge Engagement Needs
Before you can build your knowledge engagement strategy and implement the right technology to support it, you need to identify the challenges you are trying to resolve. While every organization is unique, there are some common knowledge engagement needs and challenges that many companies experience. These may include:
- Knowledge lives in many different locations and is difficult to find.
- Employees waste time trying to track down the knowledge they need to do their jobs.
- Individuals who possess specialized knowledge dedicate significant time to fielding requests for information and answering repetitive questions.
- Departments and teams become siloed, leading to misalignment of goals and missed collaboration opportunities.
- Employees or teams duplicate work because they don’t know what already exists within the organization.
- Employees access and use out-of-date information without realizing it is inaccurate.
- Knowledge is lost when employees leave the company or move to a new role.
- Employees feel disengaged with their work and peers, increasing the risk of turnover.
- The customer experience feels disjointed across different channels, negatively impacting customer satisfaction and loyalty.
- Business decisions are made without evaluating existing data and insights.
2. Define Your Goals and Objectives
Once you know the challenges your organization is attempting to solve, it’s time to set your knowledge engagement goals and objectives.
Goals represent your desired outcomes and can be defined by the following basic characteristics:
- They emerge from what you know about your organization.
- They are more specific than your corporate vision statement.
- They are different from objectives in that they are not connected to a timeline.
As you think about goals, it’s a good idea to consider how they will tie back to broader business impact areas, such as revenue, retention, and innovation.
For example, a knowledge engagement goal that impacts revenue might be: To reduce wasted spend on duplicative work by ensuring all departments and teams can access company-wide knowledge and insights.
Objectives are concrete, actionable steps that your organization will take to meet your goals. They have the following characteristics:
- They have measurable, precise timetables for action.
- They state who will do what and when.
- They can be assigned to specific staff members or departments.
- They can be crossed off when finished.
An example of an objective that supports the goal above might be: The knowledge management team will launch a pilot program with a knowledge engagement platform in six months.
3. Map Existing Knowledge and Gaps
Making institutional and employee knowledge central and searchable is often a core goal in a knowledge engagement strategy. This may seem like a daunting project, especially if knowledge is currently spread out across different platforms, hard drives, filing cabinets, and the minds of individuals. But it becomes a lot more manageable when you break it into smaller activities and start mapping out the knowledge that already exists across your organization.
Start by identifying all the different sources where knowledge currently lives. These may include:
- A company intranet or wiki
- Shared drives
- Collaboration and knowledge management platforms used by different departments or teams
- A real-time chat platform, like Slack or Microsoft Teams
- The minds of subject matter experts
From there, you can start a knowledge inventory in a spreadsheet, recording 1.) what knowledge exists across the organization, 2.) where it is located, 3.) what file format(s) it exists in, and 4.) whether the information is current or needs to be updated.
As you complete your inventory, you will start to see gaps and process issues emerge. For example, you may discover duplicate versions of content, company-wide documentation that has only been shared amongst a few individuals or teams, or frequently asked questions without documented answers.
Once you have identified these issues, you can identify appropriate next steps, such as repackaging existing knowledge for better consumption and creating a prioritized list of knowledge gaps to fill.
4. Establish Your Steering Committee
As you prepare to make any major change around knowledge engagement—whether you are implementing new technology, designing new processes, promoting behavioral changes, or all of the above—you should establish a steering committee to help guide the project.
A steering committee is a group of stakeholders who will meet regularly to provide strategic direction on a project, ensure that project is aligned with company goals, and monitor the execution of the project. Their goal should be to support the project manager and see the project through to a successful conclusion. Ideally, the committee should consist of senior leaders from areas of the business that will be directly impacted by your knowledge engagement strategy, such as Customer Experience or Market Research.
A steering committee can help determine what needs to be done—and what additional resources may be needed—to make the project successful, identify and address potential challenges along the way, and introduce new perspectives about other business or external factors that need to be taken into account.
Establishing a steering committee can also help your team get early buy in for your knowledge engagement strategy. When a team of high-level stakeholders is involved with the project from the beginning, they will be more likely to feel invested in its outcome and to evangelize the knowledge engagement strategy across their departments.
5. Promote a Culture of Knowledge Engagement
You want your knowledge engagement strategy—and platform, if you choose to implement one—to be successful for the long term. And long-term success requires creating a culture of knowledge engagement, where capturing, sharing, and finding knowledge becomes ingrained in employees’ daily workflows.
There are many strategies you can use to build a culture of knowledge engagement across your organization. One easy way to start is by incentivizing knowledge sharing. For example, you could provide a shoutout in company or team meetings when someone contributes a valuable piece of content to your knowledge engagement platform, or you could use gamification and give small prizes for achieving different milestones, such as contributing ten pieces of content.
It’s also important to make it as easy as possible for employees to share their knowledge. As a team leader, you could block off time for your team members to contribute to your knowledge engagement platform, making it clear that they can share their expertise and ideas without fear of negative repercussions. Rather than asking subject matter experts to write up a lengthy process document or best practices guide, you could encourage them to record short how-to videos.
Asking senior leaders to share content, such as weekly video updates or write-ups of recent events they have attended, is another great way to encourage a culture of knowledge engagement from the top down.
6. Track and Report on Your Successes
Once you have implemented your knowledge engagement strategy, it’s essential to measure its impact. This will allow you to communicate its value to senior leadership so that your organization will continue to invest in the strategy’s success.
The metrics you track will depend on your specific goals but may include:
- Employee satisfaction: This can be tracked using a knowledge engagement survey you send out before and after implementing your strategy. Asking employees to respond to a statement such as “I am confident that I can always find the information I need to do my job well” on a 1 to 5 scale can help you measure change in employee satisfaction as it relates to knowledge engagement.
- Time savings: Your survey can also help you measure time savings by asking employees to estimate how much time they spend searching for information every day or week.
- Daily and monthly active users: If one of your goals involves getting employees to access and share knowledge through a central knowledge engagement platform, you should look at the percent of employees using that platform on a daily or monthly basis.
- Percent of answered questions: If your knowledge engagement strategy includes your SMEs answering questions in a centralized platform, it will be valuable to track the percent of answered questions to determine whether the Q&A base is being used as intended.
- Percent of employees contributing knowledge: Do you have a goal around capturing knowledge from a wider swath of employees? Track the percentage of employees sharing contributions in your knowledge engagement platform at regular intervals.
- Total contributions created: One easy way to demonstrate that your organization is growing its collective intelligence is to look at the total contributions shared in your knowledge engagement platform over a defined period, such as the last month, quarter, or year.
A knowledge engagement strategy isn’t something your organization can build overnight, but taking the right steps to develop your strategy now will pay dividends in the long run. Start building your knowledge engagement strategy to ensure everyone has access to the knowledge they need to collaborate, innovate, and do their best work.