Repressed Operational Knowhow Workflows
An initial vulnerability assessment and hundreds of subsequent conversations with affected managers revealed that businesses are running with their brakes on. They seem to be tragically united by a huge problem. And this cuts across industries and departments. Be it in Production, Logistics, Sales and Service, Engineering, or Quality. There are considerable weaknesses in operational knowhow workflows. Employees and dispersed knowledge are difficult to identify and to purposefully bring together.
Managers struggle to get replies, oversight and control
Managers that have a high frequency of newly upcoming topics and issues (be it Bottom Up or Top Down) struggle with various channels to get replies, overview, and control. These may be telephone, email or more sophisticated communication tools that are all insufficient to reach and purposefully bring together multiple employees, functions, and locations.
Most are aware that blindspots prevail, but they do not have the time and energy to coordinate employees and knowledge. Blindspots are not only the important impulses (problems, challenges or ideas) of the employees active directly at the daily events. They also include hidden experts and historical knowledge. Managers neither recognize these in time nor utilized this in a target driven manner.
Most meetings are inefficient, unnecessarily long and redundant
Cross-functional meetings are hard to schedule due to availability issues. Experts are busy and it seems increasingly impossible to timely setup meetings that exceed 2 participants. It can take weeks to set up simple meetings and even longer for more complex ones. Employees spend too much time in meetings that are inefficient, unnecessarily long, and redundant.
Valuable knowledge subsides quickly after creation
People tend to work in silos and naturally do not feel the need to properly document or share their Lessons Learned, as this manual work imposed additional efforts on them. This leads to valuable knowledge that subsides quickly after creation. Thus, it is not available for the benefit of others and the whole business. Sometimes even different locations and functions are dealing with same or similar issues multiple times. This leads to time spent unnecessarily on grasping issues that have already been delt with in depth by other experts. These were however not documented properly. Now others cannot find them in their time of need.
Great potential is left on the table
The above described seems to be an accepted status quo. Some attempted to handle it through independent activities. These workarounds do not do the challenge justice. They are inefficient, slow down, and great potential is left on the table. Activities include gathering employee impulses, identifying experts, finding a date, getting them to a target driven table, efficiently managing the meeting, manually documenting it, writing meeting reports and communicating them, follow up and coordinating multiple meeting rounds as well as building up a knowledge database and an expert network.
All these activities lack purpose and overview. Furthermore, synergies from these isolated subprocesses are not gained. Lessons Learned und fresh Expert knowledge are not intelligently and instantly connected for newly upcoming topics. In the next article we will share our vision for a desirable future.