A "gamer", meaning someone who actively plays computer/video games, lives in a world of constant transfering of knowledge. It can be strategies to overcome a certain element, tips or other useful knowledge to continue the game. Does working life have anything to learn from these gamers when it comes to knowledge sharing?
Sharing of knowledge is extensive in the gaming world
Both in the professional world and in the gaming world, knowledge and information need to be shared in order to manage specific tasks. Sometimes you are unable to follow out a task wothout assistance, you might be in lack the necessary information or simply request tips on the best way forward. Whatever the case, information from someone else is needed. So, what du you do?
Although they probably haven't reflected on it themselves, gamers are extremely diligent knowledge-makers. You can find help, strategies and more about most games - and for every possible scenario in the games. Youtube is full of "Walkthrough" videos, for example, showing in detail how to get through the game from start to finish. Or videos with tips and tricks. Or videos with different tactics and so on ...
The gaming world can be seen as a single large organization. An organization that is extremely willing and able to share knowledge and information within itself. In most cases, you will find the answer to your question through a quick Google search directing you to discussion forums, news pages, Youtube videos or other sites containing the information or knowledge you are looking for. In discussion forums, you often come across certain enthusiasts creating threads on topics like: "this is what I wanted to know when I started" or "I think we should share our strategies to improve them". There is a prestige in sharing the knowledge rather than being the only one sitting on it. The specialists share knowledge, so that others can also become specialists.
Photo by Grzegorz Walczak på Unsplash. (Sorry all gamers, we know almost no one uses Mac for gaming...)
And what does it look like in working life?
At work, it's not always that easy. Of course, Google and other search engines are the first choice for many who face questions in their work day. But in many cases, business-specific information or knowledge can be difficult to find. The reason is usually that information can be very scattered, not searchable and poorly categorized. In too many cases, it also depends on the fact that knowledge is bound to a specific person and not documented anywhere. If that person is absent or maybe leaves the workplace, the knowledge is no longer available in the business.
How do we make knowledge and information independent of person?
Document everything that employees may need, and make it easily accessible. The faster you can find out something, the less unnecessary time is spent on finding information. As I said, it is very common for information to be scattered in various places in the business. This means that you first have to find the right place to look, and then start looking for the information you seek.
Another important and often overlooked method of making knowledge available is to use the most appropriate form of media to convey it. Do you want to explain a specific function in a system? Use screen recordings. Do you want to describe a physical task? Record a video. It is very common using long, detailed text instructions, which can be difficult to follow. Also keep in mind that everyone learns in various ways, explaining the very task with different media can be the key to reaching out to everyone.
Are there any tools?
Performance Support is a well-known concept, which in short means "Help to get on with the job". A Performance Support system is suitable for documenting business-related knowledge and information, and makes it accessible when needed. The access can be done through search pages, portals or other links to various forms of knowledge items answering the questions the employee encounters, or teach you about of a certain subject.
Using shorter support guides, quickly helping you to get on with your task, one can reduce the unwanted delays in work due to a lack of knowledge or information. A major benefit working this way is that knowledge-related stress decreases, while at the same time making employees more productive. A win-win situation for both the organization and the employees.
But do we have time to maintain this way of working?
A gamer uploading knowledge in his/her spare time may spend more time than we might have, within the framework of our working hours. In the short term it can be seen as time-consuming to share knowledge, but in the long term there is a lot of time to save both for those who share the knowledge and the employees who uses it.
Through Performance Support and knowledge sharing, repetitive issues do not have to be handled manually, instead we can refer to the place where the information is located. Over time, it becomes natural for an employee to seek out the information him-/herself instead of contacting the person who originally had the knowledge. As one of our clients said, "It is better to schedule two hours to create guides, than to answer ten questions when you have no time."
Make it easy to do things the right way
In addition to time savings, as previously mentioned, knowledge sharing can also result in a more person-independent organization. This brings a benefit that you will no longer be dependent on that one person to solve the problem with the mail program, or hear statements like "I accidently gave the wrong information to the customer since Kalle was absent and he is the one with who knows this".
If knowledge sharing is extensive in your organization and something would go wrong, you change the statement "I did not know how to do" to "There was no information on how to do". Thefore, the fault does not lie with the employee but with the organization having failed to create necessary, accessible information helping the employee to do the right thing.