For most of us, the hardest part of anything new is getting started. Getting all of your paint brushes and paint cans together. Buying a week’s worth of diet-approved food. Picking up a basketball.

But you’re ready to start sharing knowledge. You’re sold on the concept. You are spending way too much time doing the same work over and over again. You take weeks and weeks to train a new team member. You can’t find that key document that you saw last week.

What’s the first step to realizing the benefits of knowledge sharing?

The underlying purpose of knowledge-sharing practices is to match the knowledge to the need for it as quickly and painlessly as possible. For some people, the need is pretty straight-forward. Someone asks us a question – we need knowledge. For others of us, the need for knowledge isn’t as pressing and immediate. We need knowledge all the time.

For me, knowledge sharing is made up of 4 moments that are true for anyone. Mapping these 4 moments is the first step for everyone who uses and (hopefully) reuses knowledge.

The Need. There is a distinct need that acts as trigger for us to (re)use knowledge. The triggers for knowledge are when, where and by whom it is needed. Start mapping when you need knowledge. When do you find yourself searching, poking your head out of your cubicle, or shooting an email to an expert?

Knowledge Discovery/Creation. The discovery/creation of knowledge is the second moment. Your next task should be to map where your get your knowledge from and where/how you store it. When do you get information that you will need to reuse? Where does it come from? How can I recreate this knowledge so it is at my fingertips whenever I need it? How can I make the knowledge easily readable and (re)findable?

Improvement. The third moment is improvement. Map how changes and updates to your knowledge happen. How do updates make their way into the knowledge you stored earlier? How do emails, hallway conversations or meeting announcements get incorporated into how you do your job?

Habit. The fourth moment of knowledge sharing is habit – making knowledge sharing part of what we do every day. Look at how you do your work today and see where knowledge sharing is part of your work routines. Do you always search Google when you are really stuck? Do you always put policy updates in a specific email folder?

Mapping these four moments today gives you a start. The next step is thinking about what your work would look like if every time you had a need for knowledge, you could find, (re)use and enhance the knowledge of the entire team.

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