Trap the Gaps: Audit to Identify Gaps and Risks (Blog 2 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 second post in a 4-part series. It covers the types of institutional knowledge you should document and record. Our FREE audit tool helps you identify the gaps in your current documentation and prioritize what to start writing now.
Click here to request the free audit tool. Click here to request the first post in this series.

Catalyst President Nancy WeissInstitutional knowledge is the information, processes, and intelligence that is unique to your company and critical to its operations and longevity. It also includes your organization’s story and specialized wisdom and insights gained from your experiences that set you apart.

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.

Every organization has its own distinctive institutional knowledge, for example:


  • Comprehensive descriptions and details of products and/or services, including patents and “secret sauce”
  • The production or service execution process with a diagram or flowchart that illustrates it
  • Organization charts and individual job descriptions
  • Descriptions of the teams and/or departments that work together to carry out the operations, including their roles and responsibilities
  • Reporting requirements (e.g., daily, weekly, monthly, yearly)
  • Policies, operational processes, and procedures related to the organization as a whole, each department, and possibly each job

What other important institutional knowledge should you document to safeguard it from walking out the door with retirements, resignations, leaves, or accidents?

How big is your abyss?

The first step to diminish risk is to use Catalyst’s FREE audit tool to take an inventory of the documents that exist and don’t exist in your institutional knowledge. The Catalyst Institutional Knowledge Audit Tool is fully customizable for your organization, whether it’s a nonprofit, business, or public sector agency.

Start your audit by examining the job positions in your organization. The free tool allows you to record the roles, responsibilities, functions, tasks, processes, procedures, etc. of each position, department, team, and committee. You could also choose to take an inventory of your services or product lines.

When you have finished auditing, you will know what’s missing from your institutional knowledge bank and have a roadmap for what you need to do to ensure you have fully documented your entire operations, history, and “secret sauce.”

Preview: In the next post, you’ll learn how to fill in these gaps by interviewing key players in your organization. In the final installment, you’ll discover a great way to capture innovations, great ideas, lessons learned, and successes, and how incorporate them into your operations—an important part of continuous improvement.

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