By Request: Tribal Knowledge

We recently elaborated on some of the challenges of Tribal Knowledge by the request of a reader. As a reminder, if you’re browsing Long Pressed and would like us to dig deeper on anything in particular, let us know by filling out this two question form, commenting on one of our posts, or reaching out on Twitter. Your requests help us prioritize!


Tribal Knowledge

Tribal Knowledge refers to a dependency on people for the dissemination of important information and the execution of critical processes. There are two "fears" related to Tribal Knowledge

  1. A significant branch of important information or a critical competency will be lost if an employee leaves the company

  2. A significant branch of important information is safeguarded by an individual or a team for reasons other than the Functional Access Only or Draw Clean Lines principles

Overcoming the challenges of Tribal Knowledge may require aligning longer term incentives so that team members have Skin in the Game.

Bigger Problems

A sub-category of tribal knowledge is the intellectual property that is stored in code. Version Control is an invariant pattern of any Modern Business that writes their own software.

Related Patterns

Writing Stack - we talk about using Stack Overflow Teams to dynamically move tribal knowledge to a formalized system over time and out of Semi-Ephemeral Chat.

Good Culture Fit practices can help build a team that thinks long term and avoids a situation in which tribal knowledge translates to job security.


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