Courses How To Setup An Internal Knowledge Base Lesson 1

Why You Need a Culture of Documentation

In 1913, it took Ford 3,000 parts and 84 distinct tasks to manufacture a Model T. Fast forward about 30 years, and the average number of parts in an automobile grew by five times to about 15,000 parts. Nowadays, a typical car is made up of nearly 30,000 parts, and also contains a staggering 150M lines of code.

The world has grown increasingly complex since the debut of the Model T Ford.

According to Benjamin Jones, a professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, “there’s more and more to know in the world, and you can only have so much in your head,” he says. “So the share of stuff you know as an individual is declining in any field.”

For Ford, designing the assembly process for the Model T and perhaps even knowing how to do every step himself was doable. Nowadays, building a modern car from scratch would be nearly impossible.

Compounding the complexity is the fact that customer expect to be able to use or buy your products 24 hours a day, along with your own team increasingly demanding to ability to work remotely from home or even across continents.

The increasing number of specialized skills needed to do perform complex tasks in today’s modern world means our teams are getting bigger and bigger. With that growth comes increasing chaos unless you have a system for sharing knowledge and making decisions together.

Luckily, there’s an answer to manage the chaos. By fostering a culture of collaborative knowledge sharing, you can transform your team into a high performing unit that can adapt to new challenges and take advantage or new opportunities.

This kind of culture boosts efficiency, sets you up for high quality customer interactions, and ultimately helps boost retention and confidence on your team. Seems like a lofty claim? Let’s take a closer look:

Boosting Productivity

By taking the time to create an internal knowledge base (IKB) that your team can access when they have a question. A resource like this allows your teammates to:

  • Search for and find answers quickly without disrupting others, allowing for more focused, deep work by everyone through asynchronous communication
  • Quickly resurface and reuse the answers they find
  • Decrease the time it takes for them to fully onboard with your company
  • Create alignment across different teams allowing for better collaboration
  • … which ultimately enables you to make decisions faster

The benefits of an internal knowledge base don’t stop there though. Once you’ve optimized for a single source of truth, you should also notice your customers are receiving more consistent answers and shorter waiting times while your team searches for the information they need to pass along.

Naturally, a culture like this can help seriously boost employee morale. Your IKB is a resource and should be treated as such.

When your employees feel confident they’re using the most up-to-date resource, it helps them feel confident they’re performing their tasks correctly and gives them the power to surface when they can’t find the documentation they need.

By recognizing that capturing knowledge is a competitive advantage rather than a chore, you’ll also reduce the likelihood of important information being lost when team members decide to leave your company. If your employees buy into your culture of knowing sharing, all of that information will be preserved regardless of any company changes as questions get asked and answered.

Action item: Write a page about why you’re using Tettra and what you hope it will solve.

Your assignment

Write a page about why you’re using Tettra and what you hope it will solve.

If you need a jump start, use our template about Why I'm trying Tettra, to get others on your team on board with setting up an internal knowledge base.