Capability area 4: Knowledge Base

Some knowledge assets lend themselves to being captured and stored. These tend to be relatively stable explicit assets such as policy documents. However, systems and technologies to capture, share and use knowledge shouldn’t be limited to documents. Organizations also need to consider ways to share elements of tacit knowledge – lessons learned or specific expertise, for example.

Well-used knowledge bases often have stories, photos, video clips and contact information about recent innovations. With emerging Web 2.0 technologies such as wikis, social networking and blogs, there is potential to enhance knowledge sharing and management. But pitfalls exist too.

Across all systems, there needs to be work to ensure that: appropriate structure and standards are in place; content is refreshed and validated to encourage use; the systems can work across the organization; and the systems are accessible with appropriate search tools to support use.

The assessment questions: Knowledge Base

In this capability area, we ask questions to help organizations assess whether they have appropriate systems, technologies and processes to ensure information and knowledge can be effectively captured, shared and accessed across the organization.

Senior and middle managers should consider the following questions:

  • Does your organization have standard software, hardware and communications to ensure that documents and communications can be shared across organizational boundaries?
  • Are there organization-wide standards guiding the collection, storage, organization, retrieval and archiving of – and access to – explicit knowledge assets?
  • Are search capabilities in place to allow for effective retrieval of key knowledge from remote locations and across organizational boundaries?
  • Is there a well-defined “push and pull” capability? For example, are key knowledge-sharing sites set up both to gain knowledge from others and communicate it farther afield?
  • Do you have the ability to access and exchange knowledge both internally and externally?
  • Do users trust the content because it is validated and refreshed regularly?
  • Have you developed technologies to support the sharing of know-how, lessons learned and expertise that resides with your staff? For example, have you used stories of lessons learned, podcasts or blogs from senior managers to share knowledge?
  • Do you have mechanisms for sharing and capturing the critical knowledge of those who may leave the organization?

Further guidance and practical examples: