In the past two weeks I have met two individuals who’s stories highlight a common problem in high tech and process industries; capturing tribal knowledge and making it available and useful.
“Tribal Knowledge or Know-How is the collective wisdom of the organization. It is the sum of all the knowledge and capabilities of all the people”. Wiki
The Indispensable Technical Guru
I met Matt at a Conference earlier this month and it was obvious he had a great deal of experience in the security business. Matt is working in a new and fast emerging Silicon Valley software company specializing in intrusion prevention.
We talked about security and it was clear he knew the industry, knew his competitors and knew his product and had a prior track record working in security companies.
Matt has depth in his chosen field and he enjoys being the go-to-guy. Matt has seen just about every problem that his customers and resellers have experienced and in a small company, just hiring the first sales cohort, he is indispensable.
In fact Matt bragged that his CEO told him he wished he could clone him a few times.
The Only Guy Who Can Sell this Stuff
I met Jason on a phone conference last week, he’s VP Product Management of a process engineering software company. He complained that his company is flat-lining on revenue and is very frustrated because their product is strong and technically the best on the market.
Jason complained that there was only one guy (Bill), who knew how to sell the product. Out of 7 salespeople, only two made their quota last year and the other guy who made it recently left.
Jason outlined a similar problem with the SE’s. They have one technical guru with another two SE’s just coming up the steep learning curve.
The problem Jason outlined was that Bill wanted to help new hires, but because he had complete domain knowledge and knew all of the use cases and fastest route to secure new customer contracts, he spent a large amount of his valuable selling time helping new hires and his own numbers were suffering.
The two stories above are real and exist in nearly every company selling complex B2B products.
The questions Jason asked me are:
a. How to accelerate sales growth when expertise is scarce,
b. How to accelerate sales and support ramp?
Capturing Tribal Knowledge
With an aging Baby Boomer workforce approaching retirement, capturing tribal knowledge is a major issue for technology and process companies.
When employees retire, leave or are fired, their experience and knowledge leaves with them.
The problem with tribal knowledge is that much of it is know-how, it’s how we do things and much of it is undocumented knowledge, so passing it along is difficult.
In addition, “how to”, “what to do then”, and “what if questions” are asked randomly, they are unstructured and difficult to document.
When I asked Jason if he had looked at knowledge management, he let out an audible groan. He explained that they have Wiki and a SharePoint and that there is a ton of information in the company.
He complained that the Wiki was not being maintained and that while a lot of content exists, it was not validated, nor was it easily accessible by salespeople.
He added that there was no way they could track what was being used, nor was there a process to automate the management of it.
Using WittyParrot to Capture and Share Tribal knowledge
In the following 1-minute demonstration, I will show how WittyParrot is used to capture, share and make tribal knowledge available to colleagues and channel partners.