Making Crowdbase a More Lively Place

We recently released new features that we hope will make it easier for users to interact with each other and to stay up to date:

  • Interact with your home feed
  • Home feed auto refresh
  • Mentions and references

Keep on reading for more details!

Interact with your home feed

The home feed always was a great starting point to give you a quick overview of all the latest content in your Crowdbase organization, but it wasn’t so great at letting you give feedback and engage in conversations.

In order to make Crowdbase a more lively place, we added the ability for users to like, comment and answer questions right from the home feed.


Home feed auto refresh

After adding new ways to interact with your home feed, it only made sense to make it refresh automatically. From now on, look at the top of your home feed for updates!


Mentions and references

A huge part of knowledge management is about bringing people with knowledge in the right conversations and creating a network of resources.

From now on, simply type “@” when writing a post or a comment to get access to an inline search tool that you can use to mention people (who will get notified instantly) or create references to other posts in Crowdbase.


More to come soon. Stay tune!

The Inversion of Knowledge

NotePeter Dorfman, former Knowledge Management Lead in the Office of the General Counsel at Hewlett Packard, has been a technology marketer, process consultant, author and thought leader in the KM field for more than 23 years. He can be reached at

The Inversion of Knowledge

By Peter Dorfman, © Copyright 2014, Peter Dorfman. All rights reserved.


Knowledge management was, in its early years, largely a top-down enterprise. Driven by a concern that corporate knowledge repositories would quickly fill up with inaccurate, useless junk without rigid quality review, organizations created small priesthoods of knowledge administrators responsible for virtually all authoring. Unfortunately, the results often were massive bottlenecks as content generated in this centralized way sat for weeks or months awaiting review. By the time knowledge reached its intended users, much of it had aged to the point of irrelevance.

Top-down knowledge management had limited success. It did not take long for proponents to arrive at the realization that KM would begin to show significant ROIs when the process was inverted. Centralized knowledge administration clearly produced higher-value knowledge — but centralized authoring retarded growth. Eventually, it began to be recognized, everyone — not just a small elite — would have to become responsible for generating the raw materials for corporate KM.

KM technology development followed the pattern. Adopters once favored highly engineered “expert systems” and similar artificial intelligence approaches for knowledge representation, until they experienced the difficulty and expense of implementing and maintaining structured knowledge bases. Structured approaches were in direct competition with more straightforward search-based tools. Search ultimately (and probably inevitably) won.

That was, of course, in the last millennium. Today, while there still are knowledge managers, knowledge engineers and knowledge bases, KM is an increasingly informal and an overwhelmingly social activity. Formal knowledge repositories are giving way to, or are supplemented by, informally-managed communities of shared interest. And managers are easing up on the expectation that content, once authored and subjected to elaborate review and refining, is then “finished.” Content is instead being deployed after relatively cursory editing and refined continuously through use.

This really is just KM finding its most effective orientation. Managers have found that allowing knowledge to be generated from the bottom up, through community interaction and a more informal knowledge capture process, wasn’t the compromise they assumed it was. Opening the knowledge capture process to more junior authors initially seemed risky – content that had not been created or extensively vetted by experts was getting into circulation and being used. But in important ways it was more realistic content, because it was based on actual experience, as opposed to being anticipated before it actually turned out to be relevant.

More importantly, bottom-up knowledge capture actually happened. Many organizations found that carefully designed top-down knowledge generation processes broke down, because the subject matter experts didn’t have the time to author. In addition, they quickly lost interest in authoring because they benefited little from the exercise. They were generating content for more junior people to use; it meant they got fewer interruptions to respond to questions, but the content was of little use to the SMEs.

Junior authors, on the other hand, wrote for each other’s benefit. They were both contributors and consumers of the content; in many organizations, it turned out they were more avid adopters of the KM process because of this. And the content created by junior authors was, to management, surprisingly good. Often, the quality of this content opened management’s eyes to the effectiveness of their own junior staff, whom they had assumed were not capable of generating effective material the way experts were expected to.

Today, when users of a product or service need answers to their questions, they frequently bypass “experts” entirely and just Google to see what their peers know. Often, the first place end users think to look for how-to advice is YouTube. Smart KM tool vendors are designing their offerings to accommodate this “self-help” tendency among their end users.

Knowledge management’s leading proponents saw this social element coming. In the customer support community, the developers of “Knowledge-Centered Support,” a set of KM principles championed by the Consortium for Service Innovation (San Carlos, CA), anticipated the migration of the KM discipline from a highly-structured and targeted knowledge base focus to increasing reliance on user community conversation (in KCS terminology, “from the funnel to the cloud”) well over a decade ago.

Personal experience in the KM field has reinforced this trend in my own practice. For example, while one multinational was developing its knowledge management practice in its global legal affairs function, it was simultaneously contracting its corporate law library down to bare bones, eliminating a once-highly-valued service through which the library provided custom searches of legal databases to its in-house attorneys. The downgrading of this service came in part because the company was getting similar search services from its outside counsel – but more importantly, executives in the General Counsel’s office realized that when lawyers needed information, they had stopped asking for help. They just Googled whatever they needed, and were quite satisfied with the results.

It has been observed widely that the ascendency of social knowledge sharing is a generational phenomenon – that “Generation Y” employees entered the workforce with social networking habits deeply ingrained and expected to indulge those habits in the workplace. While this probably is valid, the legal experience suggests to me that the move to the cloud is not as generational as the pundits assume – the Google-it-yourself approach was adopted just as avidly by the older attorneys as it was with the Gen-Y crowd.

What is going on in the cloud is the social element of KM, which in turn is an inevitable expression of the bottom-up evolution of the discipline. It is, on balance, a healthy trend.

Bottom-up knowledge generation will have significant impacts on the way work, and workers, are perceived by corporations. Management will have to develop new incentives for knowledge workers to contribute high-quality content. The most important element of this is time.

In order for staff to contribute effectively to a KM effort, they need assurance not only that management values this, but that they really have time to devote to it (i.e., during actual working hours). This is a difficult commitment for some organizations to make. Employees are expected to devote their time to prescribed work functions, and that time, and the work output, is measured. If those employees are told they are expected to contribute to a knowledge repository but not given protected time to do it, they will immediately object, because the work they are evaluated on will suffer, and this could affect their compensation. Some organizations offer their knowledge workers bonuses for knowledge contribution; a more effective incentive is protected time, not direct compensation.

Awesome New Ways to Stay Up-to-Date

Like we mentioned in our previous post, we didn’t stop there :)

There are many features in Crowdbase to help you stay up to speed with what’s going on in your groups, like live email notifications, daily and weekly digests, in-app notifications and the activity feed.

Our team decided to go one step further and give you even more ways to make sure you don’t miss out on anything. Here’s the list!

Digests Become Reading Lists

Our users love their digests. It helps them to stay up-to-date with all the latest activity within their groups and provides an easy way to quickly access content they think matters the most. The only problem with that is that digests used to only exist in the form of emails. After you clicked something in your digest, it would open up in Crowdbase and you had to go back to your email inbox and click on the next interesting thing.

Well, not anymore. From now on, the digest’s title is clickable:

Screen Shot 2014-02-09 at 4.23.19 PM

And when you click on it, it will open in Crowdbase as a reading list that looks like this:

Screen Shot 2014-02-09 at 4.27.42 PM

From there you can click on any post to start reading from there or just click next and go through everything new. If you click on a specific post in your email digest, it will open in Crowdbase, but as one piece of a reading list. This means that you’ll still be able to go to the reading list summary from the top navigation bar, or you can use previous/next to go through the other posts.

Read/Unread Markers

Sometimes small tweaks can make a huge difference. We think this is the case here. As our users shared more and more important content, they felt like it was becoming difficult to keep up with what they already have read and what they still had to go through. From now on, everything that is new to you will be marked with a little blue dot and will have bold fonts. This is true for posts in the group view as well as for updates in the home feed and for notifications. In addition, every time someone will comment on one of your post the unread marker will be applied again. So handy!

Screen Shot 2014-02-09 at 4.46.16 PM

Last Visit Marker in External Feeds

External feeds are great to help your team follow customers, competitors, industry news or even for devs to stay up-to-date with all the libraries and tools they’re using. It provides a place to centralize multiple sources of information and to turn the curation process into a team effort. However, most people don’t have a 2 hours stretch of free time to go through everything, and with all the information coming through those external feeds you would probably have to be that guy to remember where you stopped reading when you come back.

To help with that, we added a simple last visit marker that will help you resume from where you left off.

Screen Shot 2014-02-09 at 5.01.18 PM

That’s it for now :) We really hope that you enjoy those updates! As always, feel free to send us your thoughts, comments and suggestions, and stay tuned for more great stuff in the coming weeks!

-The Crowdbase Team

Markdown Editor and Enhanced Viewer

Mother nature has been really hard on us this year in Quebec City. On the bright side, it’s been a good time to drink hot coffee and write code and that’s exactly what the Crowdbase team did :)

As a matter of fact, our team has been working really hard in the past weeks to release new features and improvements many of you were requesting. We thought now would be a great time to let you know about them :) Here we go!

Markdown and Syntax Highlighting

Markdown is really useful to style text without having to click here and there on the usual text editor’s buttons and dropdowns. When mastered, it really increases productivity and will help you to get uniform styling across all of your posts, especially when you copy and paste text from emails, documents or web pages.

To switch to markdown mode, just click on the markdown option:


If you’re a software developer, you’ll be happy to know that our markdown editor also supports syntax highlighting!

Just like in GitHub or StackOverflow, use 3 back-ticks and specify your syntax like this:


Write your code here


It will look super great in our viewer!

Screen Shot 2014-02-09 at 4.02.16 PM

Don’t know much about the markdown syntax? Get started right here.

Viewer Improvements

Speaking of our viewer, we released many improvements lately to give you the best reading experience and more management options. Here’s the list!

  • Re-designed top navigation bar;
  • Re-designed comments section;
  • New previous/next buttons at the bottom of the page;
  • Re-designed actions menu that always stays in the page when you scroll;
  • New copy action to let you copy a post from one group to another;
  • New revision history that let you look at previous versions of a post and rollback if needed.

Screen Shot 2014-02-09 at 4.04.24 PM


What’s really cool is that we didn’t stop there. Go on to our next post to learn about Awesome New Ways to Stay Up-to-Date!

-The Crowdbase Team

When employees leave

As much as it all pains us when it happens, yes, employees can (and may) leave your company. It’s a fact of life and it can’t always be helped. They may retire, relocate, go back to school or simply, well, quit their job. However, it doesn’t always have to be the end of the world if you come prepared.

Once all is said and done, and their departure becomes inevitable, how can you ensure to make the most of the situation? Other than letting HR take care of termination processes, what are the things you can do to tie up all loose ends? Here are a few suggestions to ensure losing an employee doesn’t negatively impact your department or even your entire company.

Fix the leak

Good people are hard to come by. It’s difficult to see them go, especially when they are well-liked by their peers and contribute positively to the success of their team. As a result, colleagues can be in shock, thus negatively affecting morale. If an employee is not the first person to quit a particular department or team, this should be a red flag. We’ve all heard the saying that “people don’t quit their jobs, they quit their managers”. Perhaps it is time to reevaluate management practices before more employees quit. Are there recurring issues that have to be fixed? Does a middle manager with a bad attitude compromise an entire department? Are good entry-level employees seemingly leaving in droves lately?

A departure is a good opportunity to make some changes that will hopefully prevent more resignations in the future. Sometimes, the issue isn’t obvious. At other times, a resignation can be brought upon by a wrong person-fit for a particular job. But you’ll never know until you take the time to evaluate the situation, right? ;)

Prevent a digital disaster

Cut access to all company accounts and social media as soon as possible. You don’t want to risk data being lost, compromised or erased – nor your company’s dirty laundry aired out to the world. After all, there have been a slew of corporate disasters on Twitter and Facebook these past few years, where disgruntled employees seriously misbehaved. Make sure you ask for all passwords, devices and company property before the terminated worker leaves for good.

Draft a privacy policy

Understand that employees may leave with sensitive information or data, yet take the required steps to avoid a potential debacle. In the digital era, it is so easy to duplicate files, save emails or store content on a USB drive.

Privacy Please

Take time to reconsider your privacy policy – you may need to draft up an agreement for all staff to sign to ensure your company’s assets are protected, if this is not already in place.

On transitioning responsibilities: plan ahead

If you have the luxury, start way in advance to ensure a successful transition. If the person who is leaving is retiring or going on maternity leave, find the time to hire someone competent. The more you plan ahead, the more likely it is that you find a new employee with the right skills and cultural fit. Then, you will be able to let the more experienced person train their replacement. This will make the new hire more at ease with your company and their role, as well as ensure proper transition of ongoing projects and duties when the other person leaves.

Avoid mass knowledge outflow

Before your employee leaves (or anyone else does), make sure you put processes in place to help them share their experience with others, document it and save it for the future. Is your departing staffer very good at something peculiar? Is he or she the only person in the shop with a specific type of knowledge, whether it is replacing a certain part on a propeller plane, purchasing office supplies or sending a man to the moon?

Many companies make this mistake, especially when their staff retires. They don’t plan in advance and precious knowledge is lost when employees leave. Being forced to start from scratch is painful and expensive. It’s never too late to establish a knowledge management initiative to ensure important information is safely kept and made available through time. It’s mostly a matter of finding the right tool, setting standards and getting started. Why not start small today and then let your project snowball across the entire organization? If you’re new to change management initiatives, it might be good to have a look at some of our past posts on the subject.

Schedule one last “job interview”: the exit meeting

If they’re willingly quitting their job, plan an exit meeting and ensure all loose ends are tied; find out what clients are handled by this person, what deals they had in the pipeline, what projects are ongoing. Ensure all of that information is readily available in your CRM and company wiki/knowledge base, if you have one. If not, I urge you to consider putting something in place. There are plenty of inexpensive options available (this is also what we do at Crowdbase, feel free to check us out).

Listen with an open mind

This is an opportunity for you to try to understand what you or your company could’ve done better. Be open-minded – it’s always interesting to listen to the perspective of a disgruntled employee or of a departing one.

Listening is important

Since they are no longer required to be politically correct to keep their job, they have more freedom to discuss sensitive topics. They generally don’t have anything to lose by being honest, since they are leaving anyway! You might be surprised to learn things that you had no idea were going on! As you consider the situation from a different angle, you might also identify areas of possible improvement. You may end up shuffling responsibilities between teams, or even desks.

Aim for a respectful farewell

Unless your departing employee has broken every rule in the book or done something unforgivable, try to be positive and kind until the very end. You never know when you may work with that person again – as a colleague, partner or client. Sometimes, departures really can’t be helped, so why not ensure the relationship ends on good terms? It will personally position you as a mature leader, as well as reflect positively on your employer brand.

So there, you have it – a couple of tips to help you get through layoffs and departures. Have you got anything else to add to this list? What are the best practices in your field?

Staying productive during the Holiday season

Ah, Christmas time is finally here. We can hear the sleigh bell rings and we’re excited to go for long walks in the glistening snow while the turkey roasts in the oven. Here’s hoping you have a lovely holiday season with your friends and family, filled with precious moments, delightful food and plenty of time to rest.

If you’re like us, however, you’re probably going to find it difficult to unplug for several days in a row. Watching Christmas movies in your PJs all day is certainly fun, but we personally can’t help it, we just have to check our inbox every now and then!

So we have a compromise for you – how about you get some things done, in a way that won’t even feel like work? Here are a few suggestions to help you make the most of your downtime. Prep yourself for a productive 2014!

Look back on your year – learn from your successes and mistakes

Take some time to think and reflect on your entire year. What are you most proud of? What did you fail to accomplish? What did you learn? Take out some pen and paper, and start writing: list your top 3 mistakes, quickly followed by your top 3 successes.

Lists are good

You can be as detailed or as succinct as you wish. Just ensure that you identify what mattered the most to you professionally in 2013. Once your list is done, go through each and every single point, and highlight the links between your mistakes and your successes.

Then, list what you have learned since. How you could have avoided those mistakes and turned your luck around? Did they contribute to your proudest accomplishments? How could you do better in 2014? Remember, you can learn as much from failure as you can from success. And if you make an effort to understand what went wrong and why, you’ll grow as a person and become a better version of yourself.

If you have plenty of free time on your hands, we suggest you watch these TED talks about learning from failure. You can never be too wise about turning defeats into small victories. After all, as CS Lewis once said, failures are “finger posts on the road to achievement” – they’re stepping stones on your path to greatness!

Tidy up your inbox

Ah, the mythical inbox zero. We all dream of achieving it, but our plans usually derail after one day, let alone an entire week!

Emails everywhere!

Well, how about you use the opportunity of a quieter week away from the office to sort through it all?

The problem is, most solutions on the web are meant to be one-size-fits-all, yet we’re all unique when it comes to email management. Your needs and habits are different from your colleagues, your friends, your kids… so instead, we’d like to share some tips to help you prioritize and achieve a more orderly inbox. If you can keep it up, it’ll increase the efficiency of your workflow and (possibly) spare you a few headaches this upcoming year!

Don’t be afraid to use labels (or folders)

Email doesn’t have to sit in your inbox forever; sort your newsletters, organize your customer communications and label whatever is important so that you can find it quickly if the need arises.

The archive button is your best friend

Does that company report from last quarter need to sit in your inbox right this moment? And that email you got from your supplier last June? Yeah, probably not.

If you hate to delete emails because you’re afraid you might need them one day, just archive them. They will still be searchable in most email clients, but will not clog up your inbox. Keep only what you still need to act upon, and archive everything else. Say goodbye to inbox infinity!

Use alternate email clients

Perhaps Outlook or Mail are simply not working for you. There are leaner, simpler solutions available to suit your needs. Or perhaps you need a mail client that is packed with features? There are endless options available nowadays – just do a quick search on the subject and we bet you’ll find something you’ll like.

Our personal favourites are the Thunderbird client for Windows, and the Airmail app for Mac. Give them a try!

Find some useful apps to cut through the noise

If you need more extreme solutions to sort through your emails, don’t fret – we have a few apps that might do the trick!

  • Mailbox: they say it’s “modern tech for an ancient medium”. Snooze emails and make your way to inbox zero with this powerful tool.

  • an email management tool that helps you keep track of your subscriptions and easily get rid of the junk.

  • Taper: keep only five messages in your inbox at all times. Achieve “email zen”!

  • Triage: it’s “first aid for your inbox”! Flick through your mail to keep, delete and archive effortlessly.

Improve your business knowledge and share your learnings with your team

Instead of fighting the crowds during Boxing Day, why not take the day off, stay home and read a bunch of interesting articles? You could also swing by the local library or bookstore and buy a book or two to keep you company while you spend your days relaxing by the fire.

Even Santa does it!

If you’re like us, you’ve probably bookmarked a bunch of articles (or saved them to Crowdbase, ha!) that you didn’t take the time to read or fully appreciate over the past year. Now that you’re not running from one meeting to another or struggling to keep up with client emails and conference calls, it’s time to revisit these stories and write-ups. Read them carefully, highlight what matters and share these nuggets of wisdom with your team! Why not use that opportunity to make everyone smarter in 2014! :)

Most business news websites have already published their best-of lists for the year – that’s always a good place to start. Otherwise, you can always browse through some of our favourite websites: Forbes, Business Insider, Mashable, Medium and Harvard Business Review.

We’ve also stumbled upon a couple of best business books of the year lists. Have a quick look!

Enjoy the most wonderful time of the year

We hope these suggestions will help you get ready for the new year. There is so much more you can do to prepare for an amazing 2014. Make lists of tasks that you wish to accomplish in the upcoming year and start tackling them now! Target who you want to contact when you come back to the office and draft out a few talking points. Set some goals and try to imagine how best to achieve them. It’s never too early to start planning for the new year!

But most importantly, treasure the holiday season and spend some precious time with the people who are dearest to your heart. It only comes once a year after all – so make it count!

Happy Holidays!The whole Crowdbase team wishes you very happy holidays and a delightful New Year!

Great updates for our power AND casual users!

Notifications and digests are among the most popular features in Crowdbase. A few months ago, we launched our best Crowdbase version to date : a completely new look, organizations, an activity feed, private and secret groups, as well as the possibility to invite guests to your groups and external feeds, just to name a few.

However, our email notifications and digests design lacked behind. Well, not anymore! Starting today, you’ll be enjoying a brand new design every time you receive a notification or a digest.

This new design not only matches the quality of the latest release of Crowdbase, it also does a better job at keeping you up to date with what’s going on in your groups and notifying you of anything happening on your posts (likes, comments, annotations, you name it).


Did you know that you can setup your notification/digest preferences in your account settings? Access this menu by clicking on your profile picture in the upper-right corner of the app and selecting “account settings”.

Screen Shot 2013-12-19 at 10.44.44 AM

We also implemented something pretty neat that was requested by many users: shortcuts! Shortcuts are really great to help you be more productive while working in Crowdbase. We hope you’ll have as much fun as we had while testing them before this release!

To learn more about available shortcuts, look for the “keyboard shortcuts” link in the Crowdbase footer.

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As always, feel free to let us know what you think about our most recent updates. You are also welcome to share suggestions and ask questions – we love to hear back from you!

-The Crowdbase Team

The 5 barriers to knowledge management

Ah, we know what you’re thinking. “Knowledge management is overly technical, it’s not for me or my team. We just want to collaborate and share stuff together.” Not so fast, cowboy.

If you are sharing links or information via email, you’re doing KM. If you are writing articles on your company’s wiki, that’s also knowledge management. See what we mean?

The thing is, KM doesn’t have to be painful. In fact, it should be quite the opposite – knowledge management will help you and your organization be more efficient. It’s a matter of setting a process, selecting the right tool(s) and communicating your intentions with your people. Building the habit may be tricky in the beginning, yet the rewards are well worth it: increased productivity, higher engagement, less time wasted, just to name a few.

However, more often than not, people fall into one or more traps – and the whole KM process is compromised. Here’s what to avoid to ensure your knowledge management initiatives are successful.

It's a trap!

1. Lack of a clear ROI

Although tons of white papers, research documents and articles over the web will give you stats and figures, actual ROI depends on many variables and is difficult to measure, therefore hard to sell to management. Perhaps you will find that “KM lowers time spent searching for files by 9.33%” (sorry, we just made that up!), but each organization is unique, so you may experience different results.

Instead, draft some objectives that you hope to achieve through a specific knowledge management process. Suggest some key performance indicators (KPI) that you would like to measure and start out small, as a pilot project. Run your experiment and compare numbers, analyze your KPIs. This will help you show the value of KM to management.

2. Resistance to change

Depending on where you are now regarding KM, properly managing knowledge may require small changes (like getting a tool to support it) or a complete revamp of your organizational culture. Overcoming resistance to change can be a painful and lengthy process, we feel you in this one. Get your opinion leaders involved early on to champion the initiative, and communicate as much as possible with your people to ease their fears. The more you talk about the change and the more you involve your colleagues, the less scary it becomes. Hopefully, this can be an opportunity to further instill a culture of innovation within your organization.

In fact, at Crowdbase, we believe that change is good, and that it should be treasured. Our CEO bought each and every one of us a copy of the infamous motivational book “Who Moved My Cheese?”, so that we can understand why change should be embraced.

You see, change is always an opportunity to adapt and do great things, so don’t let resistance take that away from you. Enjoy it – and savour it!

3. The irritating tendency to transform KM into IT projects

A culture of sharing what matters to your organization won’t be “achieved” by a project manager with a 500 000$ budget and a 6 months schedule for software development and server setup.

"Project Manager"

In fact, many companies are doing great with very simple KM processes in place – just having a proper folder/file-naming convention and planning frequent meetups can do the trick for some! Allowing employees to take time to discuss various subjects and getting higher management to be more transparent is a good way to show a desire to change the culture. Buying computers or more server space is meaningless.

So what you need to remember is that KM works when you focus on establishing a simple process that’s embraced by everyone – it’s not about turning the whole endeavour into a costly IT project.

4. Ruining KM with a bad tool

As more people start sharing more stuff, you might want to start thinking about getting a tool that will make it easier for them to collaborate and find information quickly.

Imagine you’re seeing great progress towards a culture of sharing important content, critical information and learning. Teams who once worked in silos now see value in collaborating. Departments even communicate with each other! Impressive. But soon, email and other methods will show their limits. The sales document you received last week is buried in your inbox – but you need it stat! Once you start sharing knowledge often and with many players, it’s probably best to get a real tool that will suit your needs.

Involve people in the selection process to ease adoption and please (please!) try to not set your sights on some horrible piece of software straight out of 1998 that nobody wants to use. Outdated tools are great to hold outdated knowledge. Look for tools that can be deployed easily, with great UI/UX, and that are simple to use.

We’ve covered this before, so if you’re in the process of picking a KM solution for your team, we highly suggest you give our previous posts a quick read to learn how to introduce a new tool in the workplace (part 1) (part 2).

5. Lack of Accessibility

KM is most useful (and thus helps with the ROI) if knowledge is available exactly when needed. Make knowledge accessible anywhere, anytime. Be it on the web, on your mobile devices, over a chat network. The possibilities are endless. Just ensure access to your knowledge is convenient and simple or your people will give up very quickly, thus effectively killing your KM initiative.


Don’t despair – knowledge management can be done properly and it will help your organization’s bottom line in the long run. Avoid falling in the above traps and you’ll do great!

So, tell us, which of these barriers have you experienced in your organization before? How did you navigate around them? What worked when trying to successfully implement KM processes?

How to ensure learning does NOT bore your team to death

Corporate training is a more practical expression that refers to “organizational learning” – a term most of us have heard either at work or in a classroom. We suspect you may have cringed upon reading it, since it brings back awful memories of those excruciatingly long multiple choice e-learning tests. Or perhaps it reminds you of the dreadfully boring in-class lectures you had to sit through. You know, the kind that was so bad that you actually wished you were back at your desk working? Yeah, those. Shudder.

And the worst part? You probably don’t even remember what you learned at those corporate training sessions, much less applied it to the job or shared the main takeaways with people on your team.

Get us out of here!This is not what corporate training should result in. Zzzz.

Organizational learning – a necessary evil?

In its report on Corporate Learning, Deloitte highlights that businesses are focused on ensuring they provide their employees with the skills needed to keep up with the fast pace of innovation. The report highlights that in 2012, annual spending on corporate learning increased by 12% from the year before.

Businesses know they need to invest in their employees so they can keep enhancing their skills and, more importantly, provide them with the knowledge they need to keep innovating and improve performance.

So why does organizational learning have to be so boring (and expensive)? Well truth is, it doesn’t! In fact every company, business or team can start today – and no need to spend tons of dollars on the technology or to hire someone to do the job. It’s all about attitude and fostering a sense of community within your organization.

START WITH YOUR PEOPLE – Get them to share their knowledge and create a culture of learning

The fact is, your colleagues are one of the best resources for useful and critical knowledge, which they have gathered from their own experiences on the job. Your organization needs to create an environment that encourages knowledge sharing and fosters a culture of learning that everyone can benefit from.

Google understands and embraces this idea, because they have created a perk called “Googler to Googler”, where an employee will present in a teaching role to his or her colleagues. The beauty of this employee-to-employee learning perk is that it encourages a culture of learning. By allowing employees to leverage their own expertise, they get to choose what they feel is important to teach their colleagues.

In this case, the teacher is one of your peers, not an outsider who may not have the same understanding of the challenges you face on a daily basis. He or she intimately knows the hurdles you face; they can relate to your experiences on the job, and as a result, will probably share relevant insight that will make your ears perk up!

It is an amazing concept if you think about it – and we highly suggest you try to replicate it. You could even take it one step further and put a camera in the room, record or stream the session and share it with the rest of the organization. That way, you can get more feedback and questions. People may even develop their own responses.

In fact, this is exactly what happened at The Cheesecake Factory, when they created a video-learning portal for employees to show how to accomplish certain tasks on the job well. They struck the perfect balance between using the right technology and rules to successfully empower their employees to increase knowledge sharing within the organization. As a result, the Cheesecake Factory video-learning portal went viral with its employees. If you’d like to learn more about their initiative, you can view a presentation by Jeff Stepler, The Cheesecake Factory’s VP of Organizational Engagement, that includes screenshots of the portal.

SHARE STORIES – Talk about that moment when things went wrong with a customer, or what you did to clinch that deal, or how you saved the company some money. CREATE a community where you can tell your story, listen to others and interact over your experiences.

With the technology available today, it is relatively inexpensive and easy to create communities, groups or forums where employees can share their best practices or lessons learned. These groups are great informal social learning tools that employees can use to share experiences and help their colleagues uncover hidden gems of knowledge, discovered from their exploits on the job. Employees can use these forums for storytelling and sharing “war stories.”

By using technology tools, these communities can reach audiences far and wide and provide your colleagues (who may not all be in one place) a way to connect and share specialized knowledge with each other. It is not just about sharing their experiences with their peers; individuals can also receive feedback, guidance, encouragement that will not only help increase knowledge sharing, but also promote a culture of learning.

Sharing stories is easier than ever, thanks to technology

For example, if Tom in the Sydney office sees a story posted by Josh from the Toronto office in their company forum about how his strategy and sales process for a specific industry helped get clients, maybe Tom can tweak it and try to replicate Josh’s success. Tom may even reach out directly to Josh, a colleague he has never met due to geographic restrictions, to arrange some one-on-one time and get some feedback on his own ideas.

With an online community, two colleagues who may never have connected are able to interact, share ideas and learn from one another. Imagine the sheer impact on your organization!

What if a sales rep applying his colleague’s best practices was able to close more deals? Or if a customer support agent could answer more users and resolve helpdesk tickets faster due to a more experienced colleague’s tips and tricks? In both cases, it is a win-win situation for the organization.

Stories connect people. By sharing those experiences with others in your organization, their power can be leveraged and your successes may be replicated.

How are you encouraging your team to share their knowledge and tell stories to encourage organizational learning? What tools, processes or methods have worked? Tried something and failed? Tell us about it! Share your stories here with your comments below or tweet us @Crowdbase.

How to introduce a new tool in the workplace (part 2)

Last week, we shared some tips to help you overcome resistance to change in the workplace. Turns out, there are a more things you can do to prevent reluctance to adopt a new tool at the office.

You’re in luck, as we have further suggestions to help you be more efficient in implementing new ways, software or tools to get work done. We find that the key is to use psychology in your favour in order to get your colleagues to transition to the new tool. You also need to emphasize on the bottom line and benefits for the organization; this is especially important to entice higher management to be open to trying new things.

We understand it’s easier said than done, so here are a couple of tricks we still have up our sleeve to assist you in your endeavour.

It’s OK to admit that there is a better way

Unwillingness to acknowledge that current processes or tools are ineffective or could be improved is a major red herring. If you can’t get your peers to recognize that what you’re doing is not optimal, it might be difficult to get them to change their ways.

So why not get them involved from the beginning? Set a short meeting to discuss current work processes and tools. Promise them that they won’t be judged for sharing their opinions, and try to evaluate the situation objectively, from all angles.

Use this as an opportunity to identify what could be improved in your workflow. Then, brainstorm on solutions. Perhaps your colleagues will have even better ideas than what you had in mind. Being solution-driven will get everyone in the right mindset to try new things that could improve their performance and contribution at work.

A new tool is not a punishment

Often times, people are wary of using a new tool, because they are afraid it could be used against them by management. Indeed, they might see new apps, software or operating procedures as a threat – another way for the boss to control or critique their work.

Positive Punishment?

Be very honest with your team, and make it clear to them that you are not introducing a reporting tool (unless you are; then, it is especially important to be transparent about your intentions). Explain what the tool is, and what it does. Show your people how it will improve productivity. Make them understand that you are trying to implement this new tool to help the team work better and to positively impact their flow.

Demonstrate how productivity will be enhanced

It’s not that easy to quantify incremental productivity improvements to justify the use of a new tool. Cutting down an hour of work into 10 minutes is a no brainer, but cutting 15 minutes into 10 minutes is much less tangible. Spend some time with the tool and a timer and make sure to be able to quantify the benefit. It will sell way more easily.

Also, it is often convenient to show how the tool will help in context than to vaguely insist that it will save you time. Explain how a specific task will take X minutes less to do, and you’ll get people interested. Numbers help people stay grounded in reality and understand the real potential behind the tool you’re trying to implement. This is why you need to spend some time analyzing and quantifying benefits: to get people intrigued and eager to try that new tool!

The tool must NOT get in the way

Many tools are intrusive and user UNfriendly. They have a steep learning curve and force people to take the time to learn, understand and adapt their behaviour to the tool. This is why tools that provide a bad user experience are almost never adopted across an entire company. It takes too much time and effort to get involved, and the returns might just not seem worth it to the average user.

Bloatware, sigh.

However, simple tools that make your job easier or that save you time in getting tasks done will tend to come out on top. Users will naturally flock to them in droves. This is why Skype or Dropbox have been successful from the beginning, whereas bloated intranet tools are struggling to reach moderate adoption levels.

Create a habit, but steer clear of the carrot and stick approach

In order to start using a new product, people have to learn how to use it. Learning can be difficult. It also takes time so as a result, most people shy away from it.

The best way to keep up with a new system -and to ensure it benefits your team- is to use it. Again and again. People need to form the habit of coming back to your tool regularly. We understand that it may be difficult at first; after all, habit formation is hard (no wonder there is an entire self-help industry built around it!), especially when motivation is lacking.

That is one angry carrot!

As the instigator of the project, you need to show leadership by example. Encourage your team to use your new tool and congratulate them when they show initiative. But don’t fall into the trap of the carrot and stick approach; as several experts have pointed out, it simply doesn’t work. Punishing your colleagues will simply make them loathe the new tool even more. And rewards? They tend to make people jealous, which might (slowly but surely) wreak havoc on your team.

Instead, set expectations, build trust and give your people honest feedback. Show your colleagues how the tool can help them feel better about the way they work and improve what they contribute to the organization.

Good job!

We hope our tips help you and your team successfully implement a new tool or procedure at the office. Keep in mind that these pointers can be applied to just about anything involving a change of behaviour; it’s not only about introducing new software. New project, new member on your team or new way to do things – these can all face some level of resistance. Hopefully now you’ll be able to expertly maneuver around those setbacks to bring your team to the next level.

Did we forget anything? Do you have any other tricks to share with us? Or perhaps suggestions on what NOT to do? After all, we can learn from failure just as much as we can from success! So, what’s your secret to implementing change?