Mine the Mind: Capture Institutional Knowledge through Structured Interviews (Blog 3 of 4)

Safeguard Your Institutional Knowledge Before It Walks Out the Door! is a four-part blog series written by Nancy E. Weiss, of Catalyst Consulting Group, LLC. Learn how to capture your organization’s unique intelligence and use it to grow, excel, and thrive. Get free tools!
Contact Nancy: 612-709-1531 or email
This is the third post in a 4-part series. It covers how to interview people to fill the institutional knowledge gaps discovered during the audit discussed in the last post.
Click here to request a FREE interview tool to secure important institutional knowledge, insights, and wisdom. Click here to request Posts 1 and 2.

Assuming thCatalyst President Nancy Weissat you do not interview your employees regularly, it is a good idea to document the institutional knowledge that resides only in their heads, especially those who will soon be leaving your organization. Don’t let that valuable info walk out the door!

Institutional Knowledge is:
  • All of the specialized information, products, unique processes, patents, intelligence, and “secret sauce,” including innovations individuals make that rightfully belong to your company or organization.
  • Organization-specific wisdom, insights, opinions, acumen, awareness, and perceptions that come from years of employment that may be useful to others, usually provided by leaders, but can also come from staff, board members, and others.
  • All operational processes, procedures, etc., that keep your organization going.

Document everything from how they conduct their jobs to their innovations and special insights from years of employment or holding leadership positions. You may have already secured some of this information in annual reviews or here and there in meeting minutes. But such scattered information isn’t useful.

When someone is about to leave, it’s imperative that you document their essential business wisdom and other information that contributes to the health and well-being of your company. Keep it with you where it rightfully belongs.

A Different Kind of Exit Interview

When a long-time employee resigns or retires, many organizations conduct an exit interview. An institutional knowledge interview may seem similar, but the purpose is to record everything that the employee knows but has never shared or documented for whatever reason.

The questions you ask a leader or mid- to high-level managers may be different from a line worker, but each person has a contribution to make to institutional knowledge. The free tool contains a great starting point to help you form interview questions that will mine ideas, innovations, processes, and pearls of wisdom from your exiting employees.

Click here to request the FREE Catalyst Institutional Knowledge Interview Tool.

Preview: In the next post, you’ll discover a painless way to continually capture your staff’s insights and wisdom, lessons learned, and successes as well as their innovations or other important contributions to institutional knowledge. You’ll also learn how to take this information and infuse it into your operations for continuous improvement.

Thank you for reading this blog. Share your thoughts! Then pass along the post to someone who could benefit from it.


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  1. The Institutional Knowledge Interview Tool is a great suggestion. I recall years ago when I was working at a company that had been “bought out” by another company. At least two months of the transition time was spent capturing what I believe Nancy refers to as Institutional Knowledge. We document processes and procedures that had never been document. What better way to transition. The new focus can then be on merging any processes and knowledge.