Most benchmarking reports use analogies drawn from medicine or war to highlight the relative state of their specific topic. I struggled with finding a hook that didn’t come from Sun Tzu or Dr. Spock (or even Dr. Phil), so I settled on gardening. Yeah, I know, exciting, right? But in a lot of ways, knowledge-sharing practices are like really tender vegetation. They require care and feeding over time to bloom (I mean, produce results).
The results of the Klever Knowledge Sharing Benchmark Report for 2016 show that knowledge-sharing practices are maturing in many organizations, but there is still work to be done. There are three lessons that executives can take from the 2016 Klever Benchmark Report on Knowledge Sharing.
- Executives – I’m looking at you – are embracing knowledge-sharing more than ever before.
We found that executives are communicating effectively that their organization must share knowledge to scale for the future. Executives also recognize that they have to promote learning as a key element in a healthy knowledge-sharing culture, and respondents said that executives have taken this seriously (we saw an 18% increase in executive buy-in for learning as a component of knowledge-sharing programs.
Overall, we are seeing executives “get it.” They are adopting knowledge-sharing practices and encouraging them.
- Knowledge-sharing practices are being embraced, but haven’t fully made their way into teams’ habits.
We found that most respondents (68.9%) believe that sometimes, if not most of the time, the knowledge-sharing practices that are starting to bear some fruit in organizations are well-embraced when stress is low and situations are normal. But when service and support organizations encounter stress, they slide back into old (read bad) behaviors. “It’s OK not to share knowledge during a crisis,” apparently some managers and executives are saying. This is opposite of true. By siloing knowledge during stressful situations, teams lose the opportunities to deliver the latest information to customers and make critical connections between different cases. The customer experience suffers and opportunities for root-cause analysis are lost.
- There’s a great opportunity to do more.
Even though there are some areas to work in, many organizations see knowledge-sharing practices as the key to even better results. We found that 50% of respondents see that they can share knowledge much better – to the tune of 30% better productivity.
But here’s the rub. Most knowledge-sharing efforts have focused on one relationship – the relationship between the services or support
provider (professional-services or support engineer) and the customer. These team members have focused on the optimal way for them to share knowledge internally, based on the patterns of interactions with customers (cases, service requests, incidents). Services and support organizations have shared knowledge in only a small part of the overall network. There are other parts of the organization – product management, sustaining engineering, sales, account management – that could share knowledge with the services and support teams and greatly enhance productivity (not to mention partners and resellers). Leading-edge organizations will have to look for different models that fit the patterns of interactions with these other areas to tap into this productivity.
But in a wider view, knowledge-sharing practices are thriving in support organizations. Adoption has reached well past the early adopters and into the early and now late majority. Innovation will come from better knowledge sharing outside the interactions with customers, not just inside them.
So, where is your organization? Are you one of the new adopters, looking for ways to make knowledge part of your team’s deeply ingrained behaviors? Are you an old hand at knowledge-sharing practices, looking for innovative ways to drive even more productivity? Have your entire team (or your whole enterprise) take the Klever Knowledge-Sharing Capabilities Assessment. In four weeks, your organization can start moving forward with new focus and drive to real, tangible goals.