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Knowledge (Base) is Power: Why to Archive Your Company's Brainpower

Published: February 22, 2013

Author: Molly Shotwell

Today’s post is by Sam Naishtat, Training and Curriculum Coordinator.
In much the same way that Schoolhouse Rocky’s job was to provide viewers with enduring lessons in bills becoming law and the functions of conjunctions, my job here at PPC Associates revolves around the sharing of knowledge. That could mean creating training for new hires to learn our vaunted SEM strategies, maintaining our database of blogs and whitepapers for reference, or producing hi-definition videos demonstrating the lost art of Desk Tchotchke Feng Shui (one of these days…).
One of the most powerful tools we have for sharing knowledge is our Knowledge Base, affectionately referred to as our KB. As a KB can be thought of as a collection of answers, I think it’s appropriate to place everything within the framework of the first six questions we usually ask about anything (Who, What, Where, When, Why, How). Let’s start with every philosophy major’s favorite: why.

Why is it important to have a good Knowledge Base?

There are plenty of benefits to establishing a true base, a strong foundation, of your company’s knowledge, but here are four of my favorites:
1)      Centrality – Your company is full of intelligent people, each with a unique skill set and level of expertise in various subjects. But these people could work in different departments, or even live in different parts of the country (or world!). A centralized KB can collect the best ideas that these far-flung colleagues have to offer, ensuring universal access to each other’s contributions.
2)      Commonality – The ideas and words in the SEM world are highly specialized. Especially the latter—as the technical SEM jargon whizzes by my head every day, I’m often given the impression that I’ve wandered into a military intelligence meeting. When your company’s knowledge is stored in a unified, coherent fashion, it provides a context and vocabulary that can be shared by everyone, so that collaboration and conversation are more efficient and more effective. We’re all on the same page. 
3)      Consistency – This is especially important as your company continues to grow and prosper. As your organization balloons with your wild success, little inconsistencies in how different people view the same process can balloon at the same rate. It can become difficult to provide members (especially new ones) with the information they might require to perform at their maximum, and doubly hard to make sure the same information is given to everyone. By analyzing and synthesizing the information you add to your KB, you can come up with a proven set of best practices that apply to the whole company. As things progress, new iterations of the same best practices and agreed-upon strategies can more easily scale.
4)      Accountability – If you’re going to create a space that contains all of the company’s answers, well, you better have some answers. A KB can force your management and employees to crystallize their ideas by putting them into actual words that will have to stand the test of time.  And then they have to make sure they practice what they preach! Laying things down in print (digital or otherwise) provides the kinds of definitive guidelines that are easy and enjoyable to put into action.
The Roman Empire was able to spread across what was, at the time, most of the known world, because they had things worked out so well at home. They had a strong, intelligent base. They simply employed their time-tested strategies with each new conquest, and they flourished. The Serbian Empire didn’t have their central principals nearly as dialed-in. What’s that? You’ve never heard of the Serbian Empire?  I hope I’ve made my point.
So…wait, we’re done? Well, yes. For now. This is just a teaser.
Drop back in for parts 2 (where we tell you what we include in our KB, plus who updates it, and where, and when), and 3, where we spill the beans on just how to do it. Thanks for reading!
– Sam Naishtat, Training & Curriculum Coordinator

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Chicago, IL 60606(650) 539-4124


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