The survey "Swedes and the Internet" by the Internet Foundation shows that since 2014 we Swedes have more than doubled our searching on search engines, such as Google and Bing. In 2019, 97% of people over the age of 12 stated that they have used these services and 37% do so daily. As an organisation, do you have this search habit in mind when designing your internal organisation for the employees?
Our search behavior in everyday life
Albert Einstein's quote "Never memorize something you can look up in a book" has never been as relevant to humanity as it is today. Although it is not often that you look for information in a book anymore, information and knowledge is constantly available through a quick Google search from our computer, tablet or smartphone. Within the same minute that a question arises, we not only find a short answer, but obtain numerous articles that describe or visualize the answer to that very question. If we want to learn how to play an instrument, paint or build a porch, there are hundreds of videos that teach us how to do on YouTube. The videos are created by knowledgeable, dedicated people who want to share their knowledge with others.
Gathered knowledge is available knowledge
How does your organisation work with searchable information and knowledge material? Do you have a knowledge bank with articles that answer employees' work-related questions? On Google you can find many answers, but probably not specific to your particular business. Work routines, processes and guides on how to perform specific tasks are things that you yourself need to document and make available. In many cases, these types of information are distributed in several different systems or at different locations within your organisation, and in the worst case, it is tied to a single person. A good solution is to get a Performance Support tool, a platform with the ability to store knowledge articles and distribute them in the same way as our everyday hero Google - via a quick search.
Use the Google effect to something positive
Betsy Sparrow, Jenny Liu and Daniel M. Wegner, from Columbia, Wisconsin and Harvard University made a study about the ”Google effect”, also called digital memory loss. The Google effect is the phenomenon that has arisen in terms of how easy it is to get answers about everything we search for, through the major search engines. The study showed that when we know where we can find information about something, then we no longer put the information in mind, but instead we memorize where we could find it. So when you are in the kitchen googling a recipe, chances are that the next time you cook the same dish, you will have to google the recipe again. Of course, this can hamper us because we may not always have access to the internet - but there are benefits as well! The study showed that the less we need to memorize, the more capacity we have for creative thinking on work tasks; something a book or search engine probably couldn't help us with.
Think about how accustomed we are to being able to quickly seek out information and knowledge in our everyday lives and what benefits it has. Review how it works internally in your organisation today and what adjustments you could make to optimize knowledge transfering. Not having to memorize too much leaves room for more critical and creative thinking. And the faster you can find what you are looking for, the more time you can spend on the actual task!