Knowledge is the foundation of every successful company. It is created through experience, research and development, but also through internal communication and collaboration between employees. In SMEs, however, a lot of knowledge is stored in the heads of specialist departments and employees rather than in formal documentation. This mainly concerns the areas of technical know-how and experience, which are difficult to capture in written form. Other important information, such as processes, products and customer data, on the other hand, is more often systematically documented.

Loss of knowledge is
not a marginal phenomenon

According to the Statista study "Knowledge management in German companies", only 27% of those surveyed stated that their knowledge is documented in such a way that colleagues can continue working immediately if they leave or are absent. In 38 percent of companies, information would be lost or very time-consuming to find.

Knowledge is a decisive competitive advantage

Knowledge is a decisive competitive advantage for companies. Nowadays, economic growth can no longer be achieved through employment alone, but only by increasing productivity through knowledge. It gives them the ability to differentiate themselves from their competitors and find effective solutions to problems. Well-secured and transferable knowledge can shorten the response time to market changes and future-proof the company. It also enables the development of new products and services based on the needs and wishes of customers. Knowledge is therefore an important driver of growth and innovation, and companies that secure and use their knowledge effectively have a decisive competitive advantage.

Knowledge is an inexhaustible asset that we can use again and again. It is our greatest wealth and what will make us successful in the future. Knowledge is the basis for innovation and progress and must therefore be protected and preserved.

Knowledge is lost

The age structure in companies is subject to constant change and can present a number of challenges. Many companies are keen to keep their workforce young and productive in order to ensure their competitiveness and reduce fixed salary costs. To this end, programs such as partial or early retirement are often offered to give older employees a chance to leave the company.

However, this approach also harbors risks, particularly with regard to the loss of know-how and experience. A generational change, illness or downsizing can lead to the loss of valuable company-specific knowledge. Without adequate knowledge retention, this can have a significant impact on business development, as the company may struggle to keep up with the latest developments in the industry or adapt its products and services to customer needs.

Knowledge is documented differently

Companies usually document formalized knowledge, such as company processes, business procedures, rules and guidelines, as well as customer data and financial information. This information is essential for the smooth operation of the company and is therefore often stored in electronic systems or manual documents. Informal knowledge, on the other hand, such as market knowledge, industry trends and subjective expert knowledge, is often only stored in the heads of employees and can be lost when people change. However, it is of enormous importance for the success of the company and should therefore also be documented and secured.

It is important to understand that the size of the company plays a role in choosing the appropriate knowledge retention strategy. Smaller companies often have a flatter hierarchy and a tighter information flow, which reduces the risk of knowledge loss. Larger companies, on the other hand, often have a more complex structure and therefore need to invest more resources in knowledge retention.

Knowledge must be documented, but that alone is not enough! - You can do that!

In addition to the loss of individual knowledge during generational change, it is also important that companies document and secure their knowledge. This documentation and backup process can be supported by implementing knowledge management software or a knowledge portal , among other things. This is where company knowledge can be stored and made accessible. It is important that all employees have the opportunity to access and expand this knowledge.

It is important to train and qualify successors for important functions within the company. Training and regular professional development can prepare them for future challenges. This also ensures the continuity of the company. Targeted succession planning helps to ensure that the company remains successful in the future.

Another method of securing knowledge is the implementation of training and further education. Here, employees can expand and consolidate their knowledge. This is particularly important when it comes to specific specialist knowledge. By conducting training courses, it can be ensured that knowledge remains up to date and is retained even in the event of generational changes.

Promoting internal communication and collaboration is crucial for successful knowledge retention within a company. Open and transparent communication enables knowledge and experience to be exchanged, processes to be optimized and risks to be identified at an early stage. Close collaboration within a team and between departments makes it possible to develop better solutions together and close knowledge gaps. In addition, active collaboration promotes the creation of synergies and the joint assumption of responsibility, which contributes to better knowledge retention.

Cooperation with other companies or institutions also offers opportunities. Here, synergy effects can be exploited and lessons can be learned from other companies. Individual knowledge can also be expanded through cooperation.

10 impulses for securing knowledge in your company

We are aware that the topic of knowledge assurance is complex and touches on many aspects. We are therefore happy to offer you a free 30-minute sparring session. This offer is intended to provide you with an outside perspective on your knowledge assurance and support you in the planning and implementation of your measures. Take this opportunity to go through the key questions with us or to discuss how other companies in our network have solved the same problems.

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Effective advice from MORGEN: Solving real problems

We hear these topics most often

Digitalization and technological modernization
Skills shortage and lack of employee loyalty
Dependence on multi-level distribution
Top 10 problems of the SME sector

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Our workshop card set includes a selection of around 50 cards with impulse questions on the topics of sustainability, digitalization, values and customer centricity, which you can use to work on new business models. You can find more impulse questions in our digitalization tool MORGEN People.

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In summary, it can be said that securing knowledge is becoming increasingly important in the event of generational change. It is important that companies document and secure their knowledge in order to remain successful in the future. There are various methods that companies can use to secure their knowledge. It is important that companies act early and secure their knowledge in order to remain successful in the event of generational change.

We facilitate the exchange of know-how and expertise between managing directors in a protected space and help with the right impulses to transform companies sustainably - and make them ready for the future MORGEN for the future.

Jonas Reuter
Jonas Reuter
Managing Director, Partner

Questions about knowledge management

Knowledge management encompasses all measures that serve to identify, record, store, share and further develop knowledge in a company. It is important because knowledge is a crucial resource that can contribute to a company's competitive advantage.

Various methods and tools such as knowledge maps, knowledge balances or knowledge databases can be used. It is important that employees are actively involved in order to capture their knowledge and experience in the best possible way.

Various measures such as mentoring programs, knowledge transfer or the systematic handover of tasks and responsibilities to the next generation can contribute to this. Carrying out training and further education expands and consolidates employees' knowledge. It is important to train and qualify successors for important functions within the company. The implementation of knowledge management software or a knowledge portal can also be useful. Promoting internal communication and collaboration is crucial for successfully securing knowledge within a company

Companies should ensure that the existing knowledge in the company is not only recorded and documented, but also successfully shared and used. To this end, it is important to promote open and transparent communication within the company, which enables employees to actively contribute their knowledge and experience. Training courses, workshops and communities of practice can play an important role here.

It is also important that knowledge is continuously developed and updated in order to meet the constantly changing requirements of the market and customers. It should be regularly checked whether the existing knowledge is still relevant and whether it needs to be supplemented or adapted if necessary.

In order to use the knowledge successfully, decision-making processes should also be based on facts and experience. Innovative methods such as design thinking or agile project management can also be used here in order to make the best possible use of employees' knowledge and expertise. An open feedback culture can help to ensure that experiences and mistakes are used as learning opportunities and that knowledge is continuously expanded within the company.

It is important to establish a knowledge culture in the company in which knowledge is valued and actively practiced. Various measures such as incentives, recognition or an open exchange can contribute to this. It is important that employees feel comfortable in an environment in which knowledge is seen as an important resource.

One possibility would be to establish mentoring programs in which experienced employees pass on their knowledge and experience to younger colleagues. The systematic documentation of processes and best practices can also help to preserve knowledge.

One possibility would be to create exit interviews in which departing employees can share their knowledge and experience. An effective knowledge management system that ensures that all relevant information is documented and accessible can also help to ensure that knowledge remains within the company.

Establishing clear processes and structures can ensure that knowledge is used in the company in a targeted manner. Training employees in the use of knowledge management tools and systems can also help to ensure that knowledge is used effectively.

About us:

MORGEN is a specialized management consultancy that focuses on the development of new business models for medium-sized companies. In particular, it supports owner-managed companies in their future-proof transformation. Knowledge transfer is at the heart of its consulting activities, which is why the MORGEN Blog regularly publishes articles on key topics such as digitalization, transformation, customer centricity and sustainability.

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