“Sharing is caring”. That’s what I hear all the time at my company. “Need to know basis”. That’s what I heard all the time at every previous job I’ve ever had. It may not seem like it at first, but these two diverse information-sharing philosophies can have a huge impact on the success or failure of your company, employee turnover, and employee morale.
Transparency can drive innovation. Knowledge-sharing doesn’t hold information hostage, so it can never be a tool to hold power over others. When knowledge is shared, people feel more valued, more informed, and gain a more holistic understanding of a business and what it means for their own work.
A foundation of sharing provides a culture for collaboration, innovation, and employee happiness. This culture, in combination with initiatives such as digital asset management (DAM) and knowledge management (KM), leads to informed, knowledgeable, happy, and curious employees.
Digital asset management allows organizations and people to effectively find, share, reuse and repurpose their libraries of digital content. DAM can even be a tool to facilitate knowledge-sharing across an organization, especially when asset restrictions are minimized and user adoption of the tool is high. Here’s how:
Encourages serendipitous browsing In an open DAM system, people can “stumble upon” digital files relevant to their own work which may have been produced by a different department/team or perhaps in a different office. Elaine G. Toms writes “Serendipitous retrieval takes place in the context of browsing or searching a digital information space; people immerse themselves in the items that interest them, meandering from topic to topic while concurrently recognizing interesting and informative information en route.”
Institutional memory is kept alive by keeping a curated collection of the organization's intellectual property. Phil Tinline writes, “Many organisations are at risk of losing their memory because workers switch jobs too quickly, without passing on what they've learned.” But this knowledge is not just important information to forego “corporate amnesia.” It is also information, knowledge, and content that belongs to the organization itself—the intellectual property of the company. When institutional memory is preserved, employees spend less time duplicating efforts, and are able to perform their job more efficiently.
While DAM is a tool and practice to help manage and facilitate asset discovery in an organization, knowledge management refers to a more holistic concept of information and knowledge traffic within your company. Knowledge management is "the process of capturing, distributing, and effectively using knowledge." KM is uniquely complementary to digital asset management. If no one documents, stores, captures or shares information, or records digital files, how can anyone effectively ever apply it? For example, say you have a digital asset management system, but no one uploads their content, you have a KM problem, not a DAM problem.
Here are some ways that show how you can start using KM principles to influence your DAM practices and knowledge-sharing practices at your organization:
Facilitate a culture of sharing by becoming a resource for others. You don’t have to know everything and always be the person people go to for questions. But these people fall into two camps usually: those that like to document what they know and those that like being the person who knows everything and thus do not want to document their knowledge. Be a documenter.
It’s not enough to just be a documenter—this content needs to be tagged, routed, shared, and appropriately uploaded in a digital repository for access. People need to know if they can use the asset you’ve created and what it’s about. In other words, you’re going to have to do some metadata tagging.
This is the goal of the librarian—to connect people with information and knowledge resources, and it should also be the goal of the knowledge management practitioner or the digital asset manager.
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