7 Ways to Grow and Retain Corporate Memory

Corporate memory is an interesting two-way street. Companies grow in part based upon the corporate memory that they are able to retain. However, the larger a company gets, the more difficult it is to organize and retain corporate memory. Fortunately, there are some techniques that you can employ to manage this crucial concept within your company.

1. Knowledge Management Software

Knowledge Management Software (KMS) consolidates company, industry, and role-specific knowledge stored in digital formats -- documents, PDFs, videos or other rich media -- while managing access and encouraging collaboration. Modern KMS systems improve knowledge searches with intuitive databases and visual search techniques, like tree traversals, topic maps, and tag clouds. Certain KMS solutions also provide activity feeds for Q&As, featured content, and networking opportunities with subject matter experts within the organization.

Providing employees ready access to relevant knowledge assets encourages knowledge sharing, improves productivity, and deepens the residual knowledge employees retain after performing specialized tasks.

2. Creating Company Templates

Your company likely has a process for every movement of physical product -- why not for intellectual products as well? As a matter of fact, it can be argued that your best practices and workflow consistency are the most important processes in your business. While you are creating processes for inventory and transport, give yourself templates for your data as well to improve corporate memory.


3. Translate Your Information Immediately

There are two major types of knowledge in a company -- tacit knowledge and explicit knowledge. Tacit knowledge is always the larger entity, as it includes all of the silent knowledge that resides in the heads of your employees. These ideas and processes need to be made into explicit knowledge as quickly as possible -- it should be a best practice of your company! The trick is to create an environment that people feel comfortable sharing in. One idea that savvy companies employ is to encourage older employees to write internal self help blogs.

4. Using Company Hierarchy

One of the most effective and most overlooked information transfer vehicles you have is the traditional structure of hierarchy. If you can reassert the pecking order in your workspace, experienced employees will feel much more empowered to share their knowledge with new employees. This does become more difficult in the current professional landscape full of disenfranchised Generation X employees and very confident, technically savvy Millennials. However, it is a hierarchy that can be employed positively in most cases to ensure that a constant flow of tacit knowledge is becoming explicit. Do not give up on the classic structures until it has been proven they have no function in your company.

5. Collaboration

Creating opportunities to collaborate interdepartmentally is an especially important notion to create within your company culture. Knowledge can be most productively expressed between departments, as you are bringing together people with defined specialties and recognized accomplishments within those specialties. People are more likely to listen to each other when they have information to trade and both are recognized as experts. Unless outsourcing has an obvious advantage because your in-house staff is simply overworked, take the time to place department leaders together to work on projects.

6. Creating an Internal Knowledge Base

The more quickly employees and executives can find information, the easier that information is to implement. You may want to employ an historian to keep an internal knowledge base that every employee will have access to. Instead of training new employees in basic functions that are better taught on the job, you may reorganize your intake around this new organized knowledge base. This is especially important if you are dealing in skilled labor – these are people you should expect to pick up on basic functions without a huge investment of time and resources, anyway.


7. Creating a Shared Vision

On its face, the vision of the company and the organization of its data do not seem to have much overlap. However, looking deeper, you can see how the two concepts are actually very involved with one another. An organized knowledge base comes from an organized vision that puts all eyes in the same direction. Even if you have the wherewithal to explicitly state best practices, you also need a company culture that recognizes the importance of the legacy. This comes from the grounding of a company culture through a shared vision between departments and from the top down.
If you are looking for your corporate memory to grow, other aspects of your business must also be healthy. Incorporate the right technology (KMS) and the right attitudes to create a system of sharing information and organizing that information automatically. Your corporate memory will grow, and your new employees will be able to build on the knowledge of the past more easily.

About the author:

Reuben Yonatan is the founder and CEO of GetVoIP and GetCRM -- trusted VoIP and CRM comparison guides that help companies understand and choose a business communication solution for their specific needs. With a 10-year track record in building, growing and strategically shaping operational functionality in all his ventures, Reuben assists SMBs align business strategy with culture and improve overall corporate infrastructure.


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