Treat Knowledge with Respect

We’re sure you’ve heard it, said it, or read it. It’s the beat of the modern organization. Knowledge is our greatest asset. Knowledge is power. We’re all knowledge-workers now.

And while this is all great (we’re pro-knowledge over here), we want to challenge organizations to put money where their mouth is.

If you consider knowledge as one of your company’s key assets, then take care of it like you would any asset on your balance sheet—cash, inventory, trademarks, office buildings.

What does that look like?

Well, how many times have you been to a meeting where: only a few people were invited, no notes were taken, and 90%+ of the content was forgotten by the next week. (We’ve both been there.) This behavior is very human—only a few people can fit in a room, notes can be cumbersome to take, and our short-term memory is meant to be forgotten.

But, would you treat other assets the same way? Imagine if you just left cash stuffed in desk drawers with no accountability or accounting. Or, if you stopped cleaning and repairing your office building? It would be ugly, right?

Well the same thing happens with your knowledge. People forget why decisions were made. The same discussion happens over-and-over again, like Groundhog’s Day. And people leave roles and companies—taking everything in their brain with them.

Okay, okay, you get the point. So what can you do about it?

There are three ways you and your organization can start taking care of your company’s crown jewel: Knowledge.
  • Build a Knowledge Hub: Create a home for documenting the intellectual life of your company or team. It can be as simple as a Google doc where notes are kept, or as complex as a project management. At Automattic, Tam used internal blogs to capture the decisions and discussions happening across the company.

  • Embrace Async Communication: Think of this as “two birds, one stone.” As you move more of your communication out of meetings and into a written, async format, you’ll naturally leave a trail of documentation.

  • Keep Each Other Accountable: We get it. Taking notes is not fun. Try to rotate note-taking roles in meetings to share the burden, and keep each other accountable. You’re building a new habit, which takes repetition and behavior change.