Innovation is social


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Knowledge Loss – can you afford it?

My latest blog post for Legal Futures on Knowledge Loss.


Legal Futures


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On hoarding knowledge


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The hunger for real learning


deep learning senge quote jpeg

Interested in facilitating the sharing of complex knowledge? Come to my workshop.

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Intranets that *work*

We had an excellent session last week by Duncan Ogilvy and Sally Roberts of 3Kites all about intranets, in particular how law firm KMers can work to improve the usability of their knowledge databases and intranets.

We covered too much to write it all down here, but, for me, the top three themes were

  1. Focus on business issues
    • this applies across the board, but in particular when
      • you are building the business case for investment – an upgrade or replacement to an existing system can be harder to gain approval for than the first investment
      • assigning responsibilities and considering governance
      • considering mobile usage
      • you are looking at/thinking about usage
    • you might need to focus on negative aspects (risk especially), as well as positive business benefits (speed, productivity, attracting talent, “anywhere” productivity)
  2. Get the fundamentals right and go for simplicity
    • a single “front door” and make it a spring board to everything else
    • simple design and navigation – make it easy to scan and find things quickly
    • trusted information
    • make it essential rather than useful
    • focus on helping people with their “day jobs”
  3. Plan for keeping it updated
    • keeping things up-to-date is essential to ensure trust, but doing this manually is a tonne of work, so
      • automate what you can
      • avoid duplication of effort – what can be fed in from other systems?
      • have a governance policy and spread the load – the KM team can’t be responsible for updating everything, the responsibility must be shared.

There was a lot more: discussions about the pros and cons of federated and enterprise search; how DMS will change once AI improves search; how mobile sites can differ from main sites to work better; how intranets can effect positive culture change; how to get a llama off a train… Too much to write down here.

If you are after a bit more info, I’ve written about intranets before and collected some useful links here.

Massive thanks to Sally and Duncan for sharing their expertise and thanks to Veale Wasbrough Vizards who hosted at the last minute following unforeseen technical problems at our original host firm. If anyone would like to get in touch with Sally and Duncan to discuss this further, their contact details are here –

As Steve Jobs said “You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology, not the other way around.”

The technology is an important facilitator but business needs of the users are the priority.


If you enjoyed reading this, think about joining an existing group or helping me to start a new Knowledge Network in your city. There are existing groups in Bristol and Birmingham, and a “nearly” group in Manchester (not quite enough interest yet) and some interest for a group in Reading. Get in touch if you’d like to get one started near you.

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Away days & training

Knowledge Lawyers, Professional Support Lawyers and Practice Development Lawyers are expensive resources. Organisations, therefore, must ensure that they work effectively and efficiently.

They can encourage this by investing in their training, in particular their training in the theory and practice of Knowledge Management, as well as in their area of legal expertise.

Training and learning can come in many forms. A training programme needs to cover the basics and also give opportunities for life-long learning.

An away-day can provide an excellent opportunity to ensure everyone is up to date on the latest thinking and provide opportunities for building internal support networks.
A series of workshops throughout the year is another great way to build expertise, allowing for opportunities to reflect and implement ideas in between events.

However you deliver your core training, you will need to supplement it with group discussion, mentoring, coaching and opportunities for reflective learning in order to embed knowledge and provide support.

How can I help? I can simply run a single training session for you or I can arrange an away-day or annual programme and source the right speakers from my network (and anything in between).

For more info, see below.

Training and Learning 2018

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Money, money, money

Sometimes it can appear that organisations don’t really care about loss of knowledge. They don’t invest in knowledge sharing or exit interviews that work. The expense of headcount is calculated in a simplistic way and loss of knowledge isn’t taken into account when a reduction of headcount is under consideration.

How can you persuade your organisation to take a more nuanced approach and invest in knowledge sharing and a proper process for leavers?

The simplest way is to ask “How does this knowledge loss affect our bottom line?”


photo: Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

How can you help your organisation to understand this knowledge loss and invest in on-going knowledge sharing and improved exit interviews?

If you want to demonstrate the value of knowledge sharing and avoiding knowledge loss, as well as having processes in place to mitigate the loss of knowledge when people need or want to leave, you will need to estimate the intangible cost of knowledge loss.

It’s difficult to calculate these losses and they are rarely shown in any budgets, but you could estimate the cost of the loss to your organisation by considering the following:

  • What is the cost of making someone redundant?
  • What is the cost of hiring a new person?
  • What is the cost of being unable to find the right person and hiring a “poor fit”?
  • What is the value of a key client relationship? What if the next person doesn’t fit as well with the client?
  • What is the cost of a project delay?
  • What is the cost of a poor decision or mistake due to inexperience?
  • What are the costs of rework or inefficiencies in work?
  • What is the cost of loss of proprietary siloed knowledge?
  • What is the cost of training a new person to “adequate” stage and then to “expert” stage?
  • How do new team members slow existing team members down? What variety of work and clients could be affected?
  • What delays and inefficiencies are due to existing staff taking fright from lay-offs and searching for work elsewhere, or feeling there’s no point starting something new until things have “settled down”?
  • What is the cost of new “personality clashes”?


If you are concerned about the loss of complex knowledge from your organisation, take action and book on to my workshop on “Deep Knowledge” and get your on-going knowledge sharing sorted out. More info and book here.

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