Capture your organization’s mission-critical knowledge—top down and bottom up

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Start with the “top-down” phase

Use a top-down approach to begin capturing your organization’s mission-critical knowledge. The idea is to look at your processes from the proverbial 30,000 foot level. Don’t worry about the details, at least for now—your goal is to gain a general understanding of each process.

Hold a group capture session

Hold a group capture session that includes every employee who contributes to the task or process. Getting this group together will work better than conducting a series of individual interviews, because you’ll be able to quickly build concensus. Individual interviews usually result in gathering a lot of different viewpoints, and reconciling those viewpoints can cost you a lot of time.

Make your bucket list

Your goal in the group capture session will be to uncover the high-level stages, in chronological order, that form the framework of the process. Think of each stage as a a bucket whose contents you’ll need to understand and define in more detail, later on. For now, you need to focus on

  • identifying each of the buckets and the order in which the buckets take place,
  • establishing who’s responsible for each bucket, and
  • making a high-level list of the inputs and outputs of each bucket, so you have a starting point for diving into them and adding more detail.

Example - Buckets for a financial organizaton’s commercial loan processes:


Fill your buckets, using a bottom-up capture strategy

Once you’ve got a high-level process framework in place, the next step is to fill the buckets. You’ll fill each one with detailed information about the stage it represents. Interview the individual employees who are responsible for the tasks involved, and find out

  • what the specific inputs are. Think in terms of human resources, materials, financial requirements, knowledge, competencies, and training.
  • what specific procedures are being used to complete the tasks in this stage, and
  • what the outputs are.

Tip: Capture the “lessons learned,” too

Don’t just focus on the things that work—make sure you also capture information about specific things that don’t work and lessons learned along the way. Knowledge that’s worth sharing is often hard-earned. Everyone benefits from learning about these mistakes rather than repeating them.

What are some of the “lessons learned’ you can think of that would help members of your organization work more effectively? Are these lessons being captured and shared, or are people making the same mistakes over and over again?

Next time: organizing your newly captured content.

Capturing your organization’s mission-critical kno...
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Sunday, 09 August 2020

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