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Are you getting benefit from your organisational knowledge investment?

If with great knowledge comes great power and opportunity, how do you avoid wasting your investment?

In the first 2 parts of this series, we covered the reasons why you really should be creating a better way of documenting your organisational knowledge. But how do you do it without making it too complex, unwieldy and over-engineered? How can you avoid implementing something which is ultimately doomed to be unsuccessful? When designing your approach, consider the guiding principles:


Organisational knowledge is worthless unless it can be found easily and is actually useful to the people in your organisation. Balancing simplicity of design while retaining enough detail can be tricky, but you owe it to your people, your organisation and your customers to get it right.

At the very least, you should understand the different nature of information and the role it plays in your organisation. Think about creating clear distinctions in the documents:
– WHY…. These are statements of intent, provides context. Nothing more, nothing less.
– WHAT…. An ordered set of key tasks
– HOW…. Explicit steps, often called “keystroke”

Also before you start, recognise the common reasons for failure and make sure you address them in your planning as this is critical to ensure an efficient and effective experience for all parties. Avoid the common problems:

Common Problems and Underlying Cause

1. Documents contain a mix of high-level context and low-level detail. CAUSE: Poor standardisation of documents
2. Long, unwieldy documents which are difficult to quickly scan. CAUSE: Poor structure of whole system
3. ‘Policy’ documents which are actually Procedures or Protocols. CAUSE: Lack of “system” thinking in structural design

As with many things in business, if you don’t have a goal or target, it’s difficult to work out if you’re on the right track. Do yourself a favour and set some realistic targets to guide your implementation.


1. Who is going to do the work (and do they have the skills to do it properly)?
2. What is the required date for completion?
3. Have any quality standards and format requirements been clearly explained?
4. What ROI are you expecting? A reduction in processing time of “X” minutes? A reduction in error rate of “X”%?

In this three-part series on managing your organisational knowledge, we have looked at why knowledge is so important to your business, the benefits and some of the basic principles to getting it right. If you’re not sure where to start, please contact me at and I’d be happy to point you in the right direction.