Knowledge Management Part 1 – How bad is your Corporate Memory?

For the purpose of this discussion, consider corporate memory as your organization’s ability to store useful information for later retrieval, so it can be utilized to make better decisions.

Before making a judgment on how bad or good your organization’s memory might be, consider some interesting parallels between corporate memory and people’s individual memory. As someone who has a mother with Alzheimer’s, I have a tendency to think about the concept of memory much more than I might otherwise. I think of people like Ben Pridmore ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ben_Pridmore ) who is World Memory Champion in the sport of memory. And yes, believe it or not, there is such a sport. Ben accomplishments are comparable to a Gold Medal Winner in the Olympics. For the rest of us semi-normal human beings, memory often ends up devolving into trying to remember where I parked the car or if I packed my phone charger before I left for the airport. Relying on our memories alone has become a recipe for survival at best. In our current state of ever-increasing information excess, competition, and the constant push to do more with less, the need to utilize effective memory aides has become a baseline to maintain a sufficient level of sanity.

Corporate Memory

Corporate Memory

In the context of organizational memory, there are a myriad of software, information architectures, models, taxonomies and techniques that can contribute to organizations becoming more effective.  From a high level, capturing useful information such that it can be utilized by various people across the organization to make better decisions and increase overall productivity, is what many organizations are striving for. Regardless of what systems your organization may be utilizing, here are a few questions to consider:

  1. If staff member A is facing a challenging problem, has that problem already been experienced and solved by someone else in the organization? If a solution exists, how likely is it that staff member A will get the pertinent information on the solution in a timely fashion?
  2. When starting a new initiative, what resources can the people involved in the initiative utilize to increase the chances of success and/or avoid sailing on a corporate Titanic?

 

Let’s say the answers to my somewhat rhetorical questions above suggest that your organization has some room to improve its corporate memory. What can be done to effectively capture, organize, and disseminate insights, best practices, and other useful information across the organization?

Stay tuned for Knowledge Management Part 2 where I will share my unexpected list of best practices taken from a practitioner’s point of view.

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