Tribal knowledge

Tribal knowledge refers to the information and expertise that is known by a specific group of people within an organization. This knowledge is often not documented or shared with others, making it difficult for new employees or those outside the group to access it.

Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are detailed and structured written instructions that provide a clear outline of how specific tasks should be executed in a consistent manner. These procedures are designed to ensure that all team members follow the same steps, reducing the risk of errors or inconsistencies. By providing a standardized approach to completing tasks, SOPs help to improve efficiency, productivity, and quality control. They can also be used as a reference guide for new employees who are learning how to perform a particular task. Overall, SOPs are an essential tool for any organization looking to streamline their operations and maintain consistency in their processes.

To understand tribal knowledge, it's important to identify who holds the information and what specific knowledge they possess. This can be done through interviews, observations, and job shadowing. Once the information has been gathered, it's important to document it in a clear and concise manner that can be easily understood by others.

Adding this information to SOPs can greatly improve their effectiveness. By incorporating tribal knowledge into SOPs, organizations can ensure that best practices are being followed consistently across all departments and employees. This can lead to increased efficiency, productivity, and quality.

Reluctance to share knowledge

Sometimes an employee may not want to share information and expertise they have gained through experience within a company. This could be because they feel that sharing this knowledge could make them less valuable or replaceable in their job. They may also worry that others will take credit for their ideas or use the information against them in some way. Additionally, they may simply not trust their colleagues or the company enough to share this important information.

Encouraging knowledge sharing

To encourage an employee to share their knowledge, you can do a few things. First, make sure they feel comfortable and safe sharing their ideas. You can do this by creating an open and supportive environment. Second, show them that their contributions are valued and appreciated. This can be done through recognition or rewards. Finally, provide opportunities for them to share their knowledge, such as team meetings or training sessions. By doing these things, you can help your employee feel more confident in sharing their knowledge with others.

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Practical considerations for recording knowledge

When incorporating tribal knowledge into Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), it is crucial to keep in mind the intended audience. The language and structure of the SOPs should be straightforward and uncomplicated, making them easy to comprehend and follow. Additionally, any technical terms or jargon used in the SOPs must be defined to avoid confusion.

Furthermore, it is essential to ensure that the information included in the SOPs is accurate and current. Outdated or incorrect information can lead to errors and inefficiencies, which can ultimately harm the organization's productivity and reputation. Therefore, it is recommended to review and update the SOPs regularly to maintain their relevance and usefulness.

By taking these factors into account when creating SOPs, organizations can effectively incorporate tribal knowledge and ensure that it is accessible and beneficial to all users.

Benefits of documenting knowledge

There are numerous advantages to formally documenting knowledge. Firstly, it simplifies the process of training new employees by providing them with a comprehensive guide to follow. This not only saves time but also ensures that all employees receive the same level of training, leading to increased consistency in their actions.

Secondly, documenting knowledge can increase productivity by reducing the amount of time spent on repetitive tasks. By having clear instructions readily available, employees can complete tasks more efficiently and effectively.

Thirdly, formal documentation allows for business processes to be optimized. By analyzing documented procedures, businesses can identify areas where improvements can be made, leading to increased efficiency and cost savings.

Overall, the benefits of formally documenting knowledge are significant and can have a positive impact on various aspects of a business's operations.

After you have perfected your business processes, using a product like DocRead can ensure that your processes are received, read and understood by the right group of people. DocRead can help ensure your organization

Pitfalls to avoid

Although documenting specialized knowledge can be highly advantageous, there are some potential issues that must be avoided to ensure its effectiveness.

A primary concern is the potential for recording inaccurate details. To avoid spreading misinformation, it's essential to verify and validate all information before documenting it. This can be accomplished by cross-checking with multiple sources or consulting experts in the field. Office365 and Microsoft Teams are ideal tools for this purpose. They enable you to create team sites where people can collaborate remotely on creating documents, blog posts, and videos. These materials can then be published and targeted to employees using tools such as DocRead to guarantee that everyone receives the correct and relevant information tailored to their specific role in the organization.

Another issue is the loss of information when experienced individuals leave or retire. To mitigate this risk, it is essential to have a succession plan in place that includes knowledge transfer and training for new employees. Additionally, creating a culture of knowledge sharing and collaboration can help ensure that critical information is not lost when key personnel depart.

Lastly, there is a risk of processes being followed "from memory" rather than following comprehensive instructions. This can lead to errors and inconsistencies in the work performed. To avoid this, it is important to regularly review and update documentation to ensure it remains accurate and relevant. Providing clear and concise instructions can also help ensure that processes are followed correctly.

By addressing these potential problems, organizations can maximize the benefits of documenting specialized knowledge while minimizing the risks associated with it.


Regularly reviewing and updating SOPs is essential to ensure that they remain relevant and effective. This includes incorporating any new tribal knowledge that may be discovered over time. By continually improving SOPs, organizations can ensure that they are maximizing their efficiency and productivity.

Content management tools such as Microsoft Teams, Office365, and DocRead can play a vital role in disseminating and directing knowledge throughout your company.

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