If knowledge is power, then why are we throwing it all away?

If knowledge is power, then why are we throwing it all away?
December 13, 2016 Katrina Waldron

Think of the time you spent building that killer campaign. Count the endless hours you spent, targeting the perfect audience and pulling together all the latest trends. You traded in half your life, sleep and mental stability for those documents, but hey, don’t they look great!

What a high when clients marvel at your work and, even better, what about when you miraculously smash the targets! This document – (probably about 58 PowerPoints slides by the time you’ve finished) is your baby.

But time moves on, and you forget about the late nights you spent crafting that perfect pitch. You lose track of all of those trends you scoured the internet to find. You even start forgetting what the strategy was, that you so carefully constructed after months of research and insights.

You’re busy now and there is a whole new world of documents to worry about – WIPS, reports, demanding RFPs or revised strategy decks – and, they’re all due the following morning.

Your perfect, complete, beloved old document stays in the folders, all alone, just waiting.

Why am I telling you all this?

Because of one scary, and sobering, statistic revealed by Forbes Magazine – about “knowledge hoarding”.

Fortune 500 companies lose roughly “$31.5 billion a year by failing to share knowledge” (Babcock, 2004, p. 46). “Knowledge hoarding” is a serious concern for companies. It leads to employees reinventing the wheel, losing time or repeating past mistakes. Inevitably this leads to huge productivity and financial loss for an organisation.

Most of today’s work is knowledge based. Once the ‘watch and learn’ tactical knowledge approach was prevalent. Now, implicit knowledge found in documents and databases is taking over.

Successful companies encourage employees to openly share their knowledge. It improves the quality of work, stimulates cultural innovation and increases efficiency. The ‘watch and learn’ approach can still be applied to digital knowledge, but on a far greater scale.

And yet, so many of us are creating something new, rather than tapping into the knowledge pool of a company. But who can blame you? With all your deadlines, demanding clients and mountains of work, your brain checks into autopilot. You must look at finishing the job in front of you. I mean, who’s got time to even think about past knowledge?

Our industry is always pushing for the new. New ideas, new products, new digital trends that will transform your life. But let’s remember that time Arnott’s replaced their beloved Pizza Shapes flavour with a ‘new and improved’ version.

They had to backflip, because of the backlash.

Sometimes the shiny new thing, is not the wisest choice.

We can learn so much from our counterparts, within our organisation. The branches of your work family would have dealt with similar problems, briefs, campaigns or day-to-day work. The wealth of knowledge that exists at our fingertips is astounding. Don’t let it rot in a file.

It seems a shame that months of hard work is being forgotten and eventually archived. We would benefit so much from asking: Who has worked on this before? What knowledge exists on this topic already?

You have the power to inspire a culture of knowledge sharing. Be one of those people that shoots information and resources across the office like love letters. Spread your knowledge far and wide. Have a conversation – you never know what you might learn.

Think about that document you spent hours crafting. Next time a work colleague is chipping away at a similar campaign, think about shooting through some of your old work. This willingness to share knowledge will always come back and will benefit you in the long run. You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Knowledge is power, don’t throw it away.


Mia Bowyer

Knowledge Executive & Internal Communications,

opr Australia.