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How the Decay of Institutional Knowledge Affects the Growth of an Organization

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How the Decay of Institutional Knowledge Affects the Growth of an Organization

Apr 23, 2023   |  By
KMI Guest Blogger Ekta Sachania

In any organizational setting, new knowledge is generated every single day. What was a fact a few years ago is now considered outdated or irrelevant. The decay of knowledge not only affects us as individuals but affects organizations as a whole. Technologies change constantly leading to the decay of knowledge. It is crucial for organizations to have processes in place to capture, harvest, repurpose, and achieve knowledge to keep them relevant to the market, constantly innovate, to stay relevant and competitive.

Organizations generally go through a rigorous process for hiring the right skills and experience. Also, the workforce is trained in specific skills and tools to align with their role and the organization’s goals. But the fact of the matter is that employees leave and take along with them crucial knowledge and experience.  Also, people retire, taking their wealth of experience and insights which is then lost to the organization where an employee gained it all. Organizations are left struggling to fill the skill gaps outgoing employees leave in their wake.

Failure to capture the experience of employees who leave, and past mistakes that proved disastrous and left behind a trail of lessons learned, prove disastrous for the growth of organizations.  These learnings are knowledge that needs to be captured, constantly revisited and revised, and disseminated seamlessly for the growth and progression of organizations in the highly competitive market space.

According to Arnold Kransdorff, when this knowledge is left undocumented, it leaves organizations “plagued with an inability to learn from past experience, which leads to reinvented wheels, unlearned lessons, a pattern of repeated mistakes, productivity shortfalls, and a lack of continuous performance improvement.”

Knowledge decay hampers innovation. Innovation directly implies the services and service delivery which directly impacts the organization’s profitability.

Moreover, when institutional knowledge is lost because of the exit of an employee, and if the organizations fail to capture knowledge and disseminate it, it definitely puts the business in a perilous position. The missing download of insights and knowledge from the outgoing member, makes the joining of the new employee inefficient, affecting his productivity, efficiency, and morale which directly impacts the organization’s business goals.  

To remain informed and relevant in the market, organizations must adopt knowledge management systems for capturing knowledge, preventing the loss of expertise as well as constantly reviewing and updating the knowledge base. Also, KM will only work if it works for the people and they find it closely aligned with their work and goals. Take the monotony out and bring in creative ways of knowledge sharing. Introduce virtual cafes, and icebreaker sessions, bring in the flavor of design thinking, story-telling, and mentoring sessions and you will see employees adapting to the culture of knowledge sharing with ease.

Make collaboration, knowledge sharing, and rewarding the knowledge-sharing efforts, a part of your organizational culture, you can definitely prevent the decay of institutional knowledge, keep your employees armed with the best tool and practices to foster innovation, and stay a mile ahead of your competitors.

Ekta Sachania has nearly 15 years of experience in learning and talent development disciplines, including knowledge management content management, and learning & collaboration with expertise in content harvesting, practice enablement, metrics analysis, site management, collaboration activities, communications strategy and market trends analysis. Demonstrated success in managing multiple stakeholder expectations across time zones and exhibiting good project management skills, by successfully developing and deploying projects for large audiences.  Ability to adapt and work in emerging areas with fast-shifting priorities.  Connect with Ekta at LinkedIn...

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