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Knowledge management (KM) is the business term used to describe the capture and sharing of knowledge— knowledge that lives in the heads of employees, which comes from years of experience and tenure.It is estimated that Fortune 500® companies are losing roughly $31.5 billion each year due to a lack of knowledge sharing. After all, having to reinvent the wheel is time-consuming, costly and inefficient. To learn about useful methods for managing and maintaining this knowledge in-house, keep reading.

Methods of knowledge management
There are several different knowledge management methods used to extract and exchange information. They all require employee buy-in, collaboration and trust in order to be successful:

  • Storytelling: Storytelling is one of the more common methods used in knowledge management. It involves gathering employees to share stories and experiences. According to Steve Denning, author and leader in knowledge management, sharing stories that build on existing knowledge enables employees to absorb the story’s lessons and then recast that knowledge into their own contextual work environment. It’s a way of uncovering knowledge and experiences that may otherwise become lost. When holding storytelling sessions, encourage participation and active listening. Ask gatherers to write down three things they learned in a journal and encourage them to keep their own stories to retell to others later.
  • Communities of practice (CoPs): Communities of practice are another more commonly practiced method of knowledge management. CoPs are groups of individuals that share an interest. The idea is to share experiences, ideas or concerns within these communities, and in turn learn from each other. Consider hosting a CoP lunch-and-learn session. Provide employees with a packed lunch, refreshments and a topic of discussion, and let them work their magic.
  • Collaborative workspaces: Collaborative workspaces are those designed to promote cooperation and knowledge sharing. These spaces should be dynamic with a focus on invoking creativity. Replace typical conference room tables with several smaller ones to promote more interaction. Think open spaces with lots of room for collaboration. Provide a steady stream of refreshments and snack packs and be sure there are plenty of whiteboards, dry erase markers and flip charts to assist in capturing ideas.
  • Knowledge cafés: A knowledge café gathers groups of employees to have open and creative conversation on a particular topic of mutual interest. The purpose is to share ideas, insights and collective knowledge. Knowledge cafés follow a formal process—a facilitator who introduces the topic and poses open-ended questions leads them. The participants then generally break into groups for discussion and later reconvene to share their insights and ideas. Provide notebooks and pens for idea capture and a basket of puzzle cubes, stress relievers and nutty putty at each table to help spark creativity and imagination.

Promoting information sharing within your organization is a step in the right direction towards successful knowledge management. It’s all about providing the time, place and opportunity to collaborate, communicate and share information important to your company and its customers. For more information on knowledge management, please check out our Blue Papers®.

Knowledge Management.” 4imprint.com. N.p., 12 Sept. 2013. Web. 17 Sept. 2013.

Babcock, Pamela. “Shedding Light on Knowledge Management.HR Magazine. N.p., 1 May 2004. Web. 14 July 2013.

Law #6: Storytelling Ignites Knowledge.” SteveDenning.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Sept. 2013.

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