Knowledge Management in the Age of Sharing

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"Let the left hand know what the right is doing" is an old saying that should be applied every day in the workplace, particularly in small businesses where only a few people wear lots of hats.

Not conferring with colleagues isn't just inconsiderate. It can have serious consequences, as Forbes Magazine reported recently. The magazine found that Fortune 500 companies lose an estimated $31.5 billion each year because their managers fail to share knowledge with employees that could help them secure their customer base.

The solution is what corporations call "knowledge management," a seemingly lofty term that can easily be applied to day-to-day operations.

Savvy executives have learned it may take as few as three steps to make it work - improving decision-making, making learning part of the daily routine and stimulating innovation and cultural change.

One aspect of this routine is to share new office tools that make everyone's work life easier. Changing from a traditional fax machine to internet faxing, for instance, is affordable and accessible enough for all employees. An online fax service is a boon to busy companies that want to save costs on supplies and trade faxes with clients and partners simply by tapping into email accounts.

When it comes to making learning part of a daily routine, one need only look to the U.S. Army's After Action Reviews program, which asks four questions after every action. They are: What did we set out to do? What actually happened? Why did it happen? and What are we going to do next time?

"This approach to capturing learning from experience builds knowledge that can then be used to streamline operations and improve processes," Forbes reported.

Fostering innovation is a tall order in any business environment, but no matter what the size of the organization, it can begin by letting the left hand know what the right is doing.


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