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Be a Know-It-All about Know-How

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4 minutes

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Dvorah Graeser

As a business person, you've likely heard the term "know-how" thrown around in various contexts. But what exactly is know-how, and why is it so crucial for your company's success? Let's dive in and become true know-it-alls about this essential concept.


Know-How: The Unsung Hero of Your Business

Know-how encompasses all the day-to-day, hands-on information that your company needs to operate smoothly. It's the collective knowledge that keeps your business running like a well-oiled machine. From customer relationship management to operating machinery, know-how is the glue that holds everything together.


Think about it: every employee's experience, every standard operating procedure, every manual, and even that sticky note reminding you of a process's order of operations - they all fall under the umbrella of know-how. It's the broadest category of important company information, covering everything your organization needs to know to function efficiently.


Know-How as an Asset

We often overlook the value of know-how, but it's time to recognize it for what it is: a precious asset. Your company's know-how is the culmination of years of experience, trial and error, and hard-earned wisdom. It's what sets you apart from your competitors and enables you to deliver exceptional products or services.


The Confidentiality Factor

Not all know-how is meant to be shared freely. Some of it is confidential, meaning it should be carefully guarded and not revealed to anyone outside your organization. This type of know-how is often critical to your company's competitive advantage and requires special handling to prevent leaks or unauthorized access.


The Trade Secret Conundrum

In some cases, your company may possess know-how that qualifies as a trade secret. This is the most sensitive and valuable type of know-how, and it demands extra attention and protection. Mishandling trade secrets can lead to serious consequences, including civil or even criminal penalties. To learn more about how to properly manage trade secrets, check out our in-depth article on the topic [link to article].


Not All Know-How is a Trade Secret

It's important to note that while all trade secrets are considered know-how, not all know-how qualifies as a trade secret. Trade secrets are a specific subset of know-how that provides a significant competitive advantage and is actively kept confidential.

For example, your company's unique manufacturing process that gives your product a distinct edge in the market could be a trade secret. On the other hand, the step-by-step instructions for operating a piece of common machinery, while still valuable know-how, would not typically be considered a trade secret.

Other examples of know-how that may not rise to the level of a trade secret include:

  • Standard operating procedures for customer service

  • Employee onboarding materials

  • General industry best practices

  • Commonly used software or tools

These types of know-how are still important, and should be documented and shared within your organization. Although they usually should be kept confidential, they don't require the same level of secrecy and protection as trade secrets.



Embracing Your Inner Know-It-All


Now that you understand the importance of know-how, it's time to embrace your inner know-it-all. Make it a priority to identify, document, and safeguard your company's know-how. Encourage your team to share their knowledge and experience, and create a culture that values continuous learning and improvement.


By becoming a true know-it-all about know-how, you'll be well on your way to building a stronger, more resilient business that can withstand the test of time.

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