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What to do when there is no-one clever nearby

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December 3, 2013

What to do when there is no-one clever nearby

Learning is hard work. Sticking with what you are familiar with can feel easier but investing a little time into sharpening your axe will pay dividends (see related post on Fluid Intelligence). However, we humans appeared to be wired to want immediate gratification and the deferred benefit of learning something new is harder to appreciate.

Provocative question: how well do you know the software or apps you are using? Have you learnt any new features lately? Probably not – and that is entirely normal. Research by Jacob Neilsen into user expertise confirms what we have observed and learned by designing for good user experiences: whether we are designing forms, websites or diagrams that explain complex concepts, working within an audience's familiar territory will yield better results that requiring an audience or user to stretch to learning something new.

So, what do you do when you need to learn more but aren't flush with time? Having a very clever colleague who doesn't mind being constantly interrupted is my idea of heaven. In that absence of that imaginary friend we make sure that we have ready access to knowledge banks. One of our favourites is Lynda.com – this has loads of software training and docos on industry best practices. We use it frequently, simply because It’s the best software training resource we’ve tried.

Knowledge bases are a more realistic option that relying on a clever but imaginary friend.
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An in-house knowledge bank is an effective way for us to collect, organise, share and search information. It’s also an excellent way of retaining knowledge in the company and maintaining productivity. It increases the quality of our decision-making and we can react faster to changes in our clients' needs.

Here are five ways that our internal knowledge banks help us:

  • Staff can find or receive necessary information faster. Employees learn somebody else’s mistakes and take advantages of each other’s gains.
  • Decision-making improves. Decisions are made objectively, not subjectively with Knowledge Management Software.
  • We work more efficiently. There’s no re-inventing the wheel, so we are reducing redundant work.
  • Intellectual property stays where it should. When an employee leaves, the knowledge stays.
  • It reduces training time. New and existing employees can acquire internal knowledge faster, which reduces training time and provides higher job quality.

Understanding the processes that drive productivity is second nature for us. We are always looking for smarter ways of doing routine tasks. Knowledge bases are a more realistic option that relying on a clever but imaginary friend.