Science-based tools for capturing and growing your critical knowledge


The seven warning signs of corporate memory loss

Intellectual capital represents roughly eighty percent of your organization's total value.  It's the wealth inherent in your corporate experience, your institutional knowledge.  It's what keeps your organization alive.

The only way your organization can continue to live and grow is by using and growing your intellectual capital.  Lose it, or allow it to stagnate, and your entire enterprise suffers as you'll no longer be able to keep up with the rapid changes and increasing complexity of your market.

Based on our research and experience in working with knowledge-intensive organizations for over two decades, we've identified the following seven warning signs of corporate "memory loss:"

  1. Inability to achieve performance goals, caused in part by reductions in budget and staff, and conflicting priorities
  2. Too many missed deadlines and lost opportunities by having only one "go-to" person in a critical area
  3. Too much time, money and resources wasted from repeating mistakes and "re-inventing the wheel"
  4. An aging workforce and/or large numbers of pending departures or retirements
  5. Risk of serious consequences from sudden, unexpected loss of critical knowledge
  6. Strong cultural resistance to knowledge sharing
  7. No systematic, repeatable process for capturing, sharing and applying lessons learned and best practices.

If your organization exhibits one or more of these symptoms, you're already aware of the drain they place on your ability to compete.  If not corrected, they will only continue to impede your success.

The bad news is there’s no easy fix.  If there were, everyone would be doing it.

The good news is there are steps you can take which will help turn corporate memory loss into rapid learning and growth.  It begins with answering “true” or “false” to the following statements, and being brutally honest about it:

“We don’t know what we know”

__ true  __ false

“We don’t share what we know”   

__ true  __ false

“We don’t effectively use what we know”

__ true  __ false

That’s pretty much it.  These three questions address the key elements of becoming a fast-learning enterprise:



capture (know what you know)

share (grow what you know)

apply (make the most of what you know)

Some organizations have the knowledge they need to succeed, but it's not shared across the enterprise.  Others have the right knowledge and share it, but it’s frequently misapplied.  In order to succeed, all three must be present.

Of course, not all of your organization's knowledge needs to be captured, shared and applied.  It's your critical knowledge that you need to be focusing on.  By critical we mean highly specialized knowledge that’s essential to your organization’s success and is at risk of being lost or compromised.

The top subject matter experts (SMEs) in your organization are a good place to start.  Work with them to identify and capture their critical knowledge so others can learn what they do, how and why they do it, and ultimately improve upon it.

     more ways you can capture, share and apply your critical knowledge...


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