How much does your organization value the ability to say, “I don’t know”? Is wilful ignorance a core tenet of the institutional ideology to which your employees are subject?
The advantage of an effective Knowledge Management strategy is that as issues arise, the solutions to those issues may be catalogued. By resolving the issue and cataloguing the solution, the issue becomes an asset. The ability to solve the problem becomes part of the institutional memory of the organization. That ability may be monetized or harnessed, and the wheels of capitalism may continue to turn.
The disadvantage of an effective knowledgebase is that the organization no longer gets to claim ignorance of that particular issue. By cataloguing the ability to address an issue, an institution lays claim to some responsibility for it. In other words, it’s harder to pass the buck when the tools to address the issue are at hand.
This is a cynical viewpoint, but business is cynical. Let us consider an example.
In the context of a business that relies on volume, speed is king. One such example is a low-level call centre. Employees must meet the minimum standard to address a customer’s issue, in such a way that a follow-up by the customer is not necessary. In the case of large telecoms, customers often have little choice in the service provider they choose. For that reason, the organization does not benefit from employees going above and beyond, or having more knowledge than they require. The customer is effectively held captive, held hostage to the entropic and ever-conglomerating nature of big business.
Providing these employees with extraneous information would only slow them down. For that reason, one might imagine that such a business would value employees being able to say “I don’t know”.
It is not enough to simply not provide information to employees. That wilful ignorance, the grease that lubricates the wheels of quick commerce, must be an affirmed part of the institutional ideology by which employees are trained and measured. Feedback and employee reviews must assert that straying into the realm of speculation runs counter to the ultimate goal of the organization.
All that to say that Knowledge Management is not simply the process of collating as much information as possible. Rather, the process is a selective one, and ultimately must support the goals of the organization. Some organizations benefit from having comprehensive knowledgebases and all the answers.
And some just want to get you off the phone.