Angela Hurt, CEO & FounderFor organizations of all shapes and sizes, finding, discovering, and re-using knowledge is a daily struggle. Most organizations have an abundance of data and information. But unless data and information are transformed into knowledge, it is a wasted institutional resource. “Knowledge is power, and when properly harnessed and shared, it fuels a successful organization,” notes Abby Clobridge, founder and consultant, FireOak Strategies. “Knowledge is extremely valuable, but it can be a challenge to make it discoverable and reusable, while also protecting it from unauthorized modification or deletion, and keeping it out of the hands of competition.”
FireOak Strategies—a boutique consulting firm specializing in knowledge management, information management, and information security—works with organizations to strengthen their KM operations by fostering a culture of knowledge sharing; using technology to enable KM practices; and helping organizations more effectively and consistently capture, secure, describe, share, and reuse their internal knowledge.
When working with new clients, the FireOak team starts with a KM Assessment. “Getting a complete picture of an organization’s knowledge management environment is crucial,” says Abby. The firm’s Knowledge Management Maturity Assessment quickly discovers what’s working and what’s not; how the organization’s culture, processes, technology, and tools enable or hinder knowledge sharing; where flows of organizational knowledge are bottlenecked; and key areas where the organization is most vulnerable from a KM perspective.
According to Abby, “Technology is one piece of the puzzle, but it should be used to enable knowledge capture and knowledge sharing.” She noted that for years, KM was viewed solely as a technology problem. “Organizations, especially in the corporate sector, were investing significant money in technology to solve KM challenges, and then getting quickly frustrated by a lack of progress. When solid KM practices are put in place, and knowledge sharing is incorporated into the culture, it is easier for staff to find and reuse knowledge—which ultimately mean staff are less frustrated, more efficient at their jobs, and even happier. The result is a more successful and profitable organization.”
Knowledge is power, and when properly harnessed and shared, it fuels a successful company
The FireOak Knowledge Management Maturity Assessment looks at several areas, including technology, and emphasizes maturity. According to Abby, “We don’t look at KM with a one-size fits all approach. We look for ways to improve and build upon what’s working, and strengthening areas that are holding back an organization.” Once the assessment is complete, the team focuses on KM strategy development and, ultimately, maps out a path forward. As Abby explained, “We work with clients to determine which set of tactics, initiatives, or tools will best address the issues raised in the assessment, help achieve the goals defined in the strategy, and make the most impact within the organization.”
Curation is a common challenge for many organizations. “In today’s knowledge-based economy, organizations produce mountains of data and information in the form of reports, spreadsheets, slide decks, emails, and even photos of white board drawings. The FireOak Knowledge Curation Services help organizations uncover, distill, and showcase hidden knowledge. We recently helped a client to extract knowledge from thousands of Word and Excel documents that were buried away in the corner of a mapped network drive. We were able to take that knowledge and present it in an entirely new way that was more discoverable and reusable,” asserts Abby.
For organizations struggling with KM, the process might seem daunting. But without strong KM practices, organizations are throwing away an invaluable resource. “Embedding knowledge sharing and KM-thinking into the organizational culture can increase organizational effectiveness, improve efficiency, and boost morale,” notes Abby. “FireOak Strategies is proud to work with organizations to develop knowledge management practices and an infrastructure that will enable them to achieve their goals.”