Stopping the disappearing act: government knowledge capture

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If you’re among those who think government isn’t working very efficiently nowadays, just wait until next year. As of 2014, more than half of our federal government’s civilian employees will be eligible for retirement. Considerably more than half of those eligible are expected to actually retire. Fully 30% of the government’s workforce will walk out the door.

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Capturing your organization’s mission-critical knowledge: Organizing, Reviewing, and Deploying your content

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It’s time to get organized

In our last entry, we shared a knowledge capture strategy that involved identifying “buckets” for your organization’s processes, and filling them with information. Now that you’ve filled your buckets, the next step is for you to get all that content organized and structured so that your audiences will be able to quickly and easily find the information they need, and understand it and use it effectively.

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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.

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“Turn in your ID card, but before you go….”

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Ask any manager—they’ll tell you that firing an employee is by far the most difficult and unrewarding aspect of being a boss. Anyone who’s ever had to “let somebody go” will confirm that meeting with a worker to terminate their employment is, at best, an awkward and unpleasant event. Such a meeting can easily become ugly and painful for all concerned. 

Even when the employee being terminated is able to keep their emotions in check, they’re almost certain to be unhappy and upset. Clearly, a meeting like this is a less-than-optimal time for you to ask, “Say…before Security escorts you out of the building? Would you mind showing me exactly how you reconcile that tricky daily utilization report?”

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Knowledge capture: Identifying your organization’s mission-critical knowledge

Where’s all the know-how going?

“Sorry, I’m not sure how you do that.  Ask Bill in IT, he knows… never mind, I forgot that he retired last month. No, don’t bother with the manual. It hasn’t been updated since 2008, and we’re doing things a lot differently now. Maybe Jen can help you, but she’s out at the other office today: she’s been really busy since Bill left.” 

You’ve probably heard at least a few conversations like this, maybe you’ve even participated in one. They’re taking place nearly everywhere, as increasing numbers of baby boomers leave the workforce. And they’re leaving in record numbers. We recently read an article in the business news describing how Putnam Investments, a major provider of retirement fund management services, is hiring additional sales and service personnel to meet the needs of the growing retirement market. 

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