June 23, 2015

IPO Needs Knowledge Retention

It is frequently assumed that knowledge retention only applies to established companies and especially when someone is about to leave the organisation, frequently due to retirement.  I would like to suggest to you that knowledge retention also applies to start-up or growth companies as the following case study will illustrate.

Knoco was approached by a company that had been in existence for a couple of years who were in discussions with a group of investors about receiving additional funding.  The discussions had proceeded well and the investors had agreed to provide the requested funding.  As part of the due diligence process the investors had asked “what is your knowledge retention strategy?”

Now this was something that the company had never considered before so they didn’t know how to respond or even do something about it.  They did a Google search and found Knoco and called me.

During our discussions we started to create the diagram below to illustrate what had to be done.

Their initial thoughts were that all they had to do was in some ways document what the existing staff already knew and that would be sufficient to satisfy the investor needs but that was an over simplification.  They needed to understand;

·        The knowledge providers were the existing staff and they fell into two broad categories ie technical and commercial.  They didn’t think that commercial was required but it was, they needed to be able to demonstrate that they knew how to run a business as well as coming up with the smart technology ideas

·        The knowledge users went beyond the investors.  It also included the existing staff (it standardised the approach to activities) and new staff (it reduced the number of times senior staff had to answer the same question from new hires).  They also identified that customers would want access to the company’s knowledge before they bought the products.

·        The material that would be produced would need to be tailored to the needs of each group.  A wiki might be appropriate for in-house use as it would allow continuous update as new things were learned whereas a brochure or portal detailing ‘how-to’ might be the appropriate vehicle for sharing knowledge with customers.  Flyers or briefing notes might be the appropriate way to present things to the investors.

·        The key knowledge would come not solely from the technology people but also the commercial people, after all  the investors would want assurance that the company would be run in a prudent fashion

·        The priority for collection would have to be agreed as like any organisation they had limited resources both in terms of time and money.

The company subsequently built on this map and created a detailed project plan, timeline and resourcing model to provide the material to the various groups in the style that was most useful to them.

Knowledge retention just doesn’t apply to well established companies, it also applies to those at the very early stages of their existence.  Sure the reason of doing the knowledge retention is different, but it is still knowledge retention.

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