Is Knowledge Management Worth it for Small Organizations and Non-Profits?

It’s a fair question. Read most KM literature, and you won’t feel like any of it is aimed at your small-fry operation. They’ll be quoting case studies with companies such as IBM and GE and Texas Instruments and talking about operations spanning the globe and departments the size of a small city.

Unsurprisingly – I’m going to tell you that I absolutely think it is.  I’ve seen the benefits and they are many. KM will save you money. That has been documented many times over. It increases efficiency and reduces costs caused by knowledge loss. But the multitude of other, non-fiscal, benefits are just as exciting.

Top 5 Knowledge Management Benefits

  1. Better Decisions – once equipped with a knowledge they can access, you equip everybody in your organization with the information and skills needed to make better decisions, which is such an empowering thing to do for your team!
  2. More Strategic Onboarding – The whole point of this process is to ease transitions. Harnessing knowledge from the departing, to ease the way for the new.
  3. Identification of Vulnerabilities – The process of pulling your knowledge together is an incredibly illuminating process. It shines a light in all the dark corners and helps you identify where policies are needed, where staff lack clarity in their roles or tasks, where training would allow your teams to be more uniformly successful. Knowing your weaknesses is an incredible asset.
  4. Elevated conversations – This was an expected one for me. Once all the explicit information documented and easily accessible, it meant that less time with junior staff was wasted on the ‘easy’ stuff, and allowed more time for the more complex conversations and staff development.
  5. More space for creativity – This one is also one that people don’t necessarily expect. Initially some can find the idea of better documentation to be stifling or create too many rules and policies. But in fact, in practice, if you don’t have clarity of role and tasks, people don’t have time to be creative and innovative, because they’re constantly working on the basics. The creativity lies in developing tacit knowledge, in flexing your muscles in the spaces between tasks. But when the gaps are too big, there is no space for fulfilling creative work. With structure and systems, more space is created for creativity.
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