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Solving the 3 Biggest Issues in Knowledge Management

2024/6/5 (Update:2024/6/5)

Solving the 3 Biggest Issues in Knowledge Management

Knowledge management is paramount to staying competitive, and driving innovation, particularly when meeting the demands of an ever-changing global business environment.

In our previous article, we discussed the origins of knowledge management, the different approaches organizations can take, and its importance for ensuring long-term business success.

We also explained that good knowledge management requires information to be collected, organized and made easily accessible to the people who need it when they need it. In this article, we look at the three most common issues that hinder or block effective collection and sharing of knowledge.

1. Issue 1: Information Hoarding

The first major challenge that many businesses face is Information hoarding. This occurs when a person or a group of people within a company deliberately do not share important knowledge or limit access to it.

This may happen for a number of reasons. It might be the case that the individual holding the knowledge does not understand the value of sharing information within the company. It could be that the person is worried about competition from other staff, they may be concerned about job security or are afraid of losing control. Having knowledge can additionally lead to rewards, recognition and praise, that they may worry about losing.

If information hoarding is a problem in your organization, there are two key actions that you can take.

The first is to introduce a knowledge sharing system that requires consistent knowledge input from staff.

The second is to foster a culture of information sharing. Employees at all levels of the company need to understand the benefits of knowledge management to the company and, by driving the company’s success, to them individually. One way to overcome individual concerns about sharing knowledge is to incentivize it through rewards and recognition.

Issue 1

Information Hoarding
Employees may be reluctant to share their knowledge, hindering the flow of information.

Solution

Solution Fostering a Culture of Information Sharing
Cultivate a culture that encourages information sharing.

  • Introduce a knowledge sharing system that requires consistent knowledge input from staff.
  • The organization’s leadership should emphasize the importance of information sharing and incentivize active participation through rewards and recognition.

2. Issue 2: Information Bias

The second challenge that can impact the effectiveness of Knowledge Management is Information Bias. This happens when information from specific individuals or departments becomes dominant, while the flow of knowledge from other sources is restricted, overlooked or undervalued.

There are a number of reasons why this might occur. Firstly, in large organizations, ideas about which sources of knowledge and ideas are the best to follow and use are often deeply ingrained in the corporate culture.

This might mean that knowledge from a company’s head office is valued more than that from regional branches, or knowledge from older more experienced staff is valued more than knowledge from the next generation of workers.

This leads to a lack of diversity and damaging gaps in the information available.

Similarly, when an organization’s culture prioritizes hierarchy and takes a strong top-down approach to management, it makes it less likely that ideas and viewpoints from sources lower down in the company will be accepted and shared, even when those sources have real practical experience solving problems, improving processes and so on.

The final reason why bias can occur is that the information volume from one source is considerably greater than that of other sources. This results in information from minor sources becoming difficult to find because it gets lost in the mass of data accumulated.

Bias can be solved by taking a three-pronged approach.

Firstly, as with the problem of hoarding, organizations need to change the way their staff think about knowledge management.

There are clear benefits encouraging collaborative projects across an organization, since this ensures diverse perspectives are shared and all information sources are identified.

It creates a workplace where everyone has a voice and in which everyone’s opinion is valued regardless of rank. In addition, by providing employees with training in critical thinking and information evaluation, companies can focus on the quality of knowledge and information minimizing source and volume related bias.

The second action is to introduce a system of knowledge curation. Depending on the organization, the breadth of knowledge being accumulated and how it is used, this could be done by an individual, a workgroup or on a divisional level.

The task of the curator is to monitor information entering the system looking at ideas and highlighting useful knowledge from a range of sources.

The final prong is to use technology. As mentioned in the previous article, there are an increasing number of AI tools on the market.

These tools streamline the storage, categorization, distribution and retrieval of information. Their analytical functions and advanced search tools mean that the information presented is more accurate and is less likely to be affected by bias in the system.

These tools can also make the process of curation significantly easier, since the curation team can easily find and share new ideas.

Issue 2

Information Bias
Information from certain sources or employees may dominate, leading to underutilization of knowledge from other individuals.

This can compromise the diversity of information and impact an organization’s ability to respond to changing business environments, challenges and crises.

Solution

Create a Culture That Values Information Diversity

  • From the C-suite down, make sure everyone understands the value of having a variety of sources of information.
  • Implement a system of knowledge curation.
  • Use a Knowledge Management tool to streamline processes.

3. Issue 3: Keeping Knowledge Up-to-Date

The third issue that all organizations face in relation to knowledge management is keeping their knowledge up-to-date. Information is constantly evolving and changing and it’s very important for a business to have the latest and best information.
Efficiency is also greatly improved if older obsolete and less effective information is removed from the system.

As with combating bias, curation is very important for keeping information current.

Assigning specific individuals or teams to check the accuracy of knowledge assets and ensure new research findings, updates to regulations or standards, shifts in practices and market trends will help the system provide staff with the most relevant and current expertise.

They can also verify that older redundant knowledge can be safely removed from the system. This again is where knowledge management tools can be very useful, making it easy to find and handle outdated information, and serving the latest knowledge to users.

Issue 3

Keeping Knowledge Up to Date
Information is constantly changing and may become outdated. As such, there is a risk of making erroneous decisions due to reliance on old knowledge.

Solution

Establish a System to Ensure Information Accuracy

  • Implement a system of knowledge curation.
  • Conduct regular information updates and quality control to maintain accuracy and relevance.
  • Make it easier to find redundant information using a Knowledge Management tool.

4. Knowledge Management Tools

If you are interested in finding our more about Knowledge Management tools, here are some of the top-rated ones on the market now:

  • Atlassian Confluence: Allows people in an organization to create, edit, and discuss their work with coworkers. AI-Human Collaboration functionality makes information easier to manage and share.
  • Notion:An easy to use knowledge management tool. Particularly powerful for organizing and sharing information among different teams working on a project.
  • eGain Solved: A powerful tool for managing and sharing knowledge. Particularly useful in customer support situations where rapid problem solving and issue resolution are important.
  • Guru: Guru Enterprise Search provides instant answers by connecting your company’s disparate documents, apps, and chats, creating the next generation of wikis and intranets.