Inside the World of Knowledge Keepers: Highlights from our First London Gathering

Inside the World of Knowledge Keepers: Highlights from our First London Gathering

Stephanie Bowker Cofounder & CMO

August 2023

We had the pleasure of hosting our inaugural Knowledge Keepers event in London. This gathering brought together strategic operators from a variety of roles including BizOps, Product Ops, Program Management, and Chief of Staff. Our expert guests, Gerisha Nadaraju and Josephine Conneely, kicked off the discussion before the conversation opened up to spark a fiery conversation. In addition to discussing how we’d like to build this community, we dug into the misunderstood role of Knowledge Keepers, how they can best position themselves to influence organizational strategy, and their top shared challenges across functions. 

Meet our expert panelists 

Gerisha Nadaraju— a dynamic Product Ops consultant, and the Founder & Host of the Product Ops Podcast, brought a wealth of experience to our roundtable. Previously she was the Chief of Staff and Head of Product Ops at Dojo and was the first ops hire at TrueLayer where she launched the Product Ops function in addition to the Inclusion and Diversity ERG. Passionate about bringing more awareness to DEI topics, she is also about to launch The Other Half Podcast this September alongside Josephine, our other guest speaker. 

Josephine Conneely— a seasoned Fractional Ops leader, has experience building and scaling ops teams across Go-to-Market (GTM) and Product Operations. She shared her breadth of experience from her time at multiple stages of growth at Box, Stripe, Impala, and TrueLayer. Ultimately motivated to find ways tech can help solve some of the largest problems we face, she curates a weekly newsletter called IMPACTech.

The 5 biggest challenges Knowledge Keepers face 

As we delved into the discussion, there were five significant challenges that were universally shared amongst the group. 

1) Scope & Role Clarity 

One of the foremost challenges Knowledge Keepers face lies in defining their scope and ensuring peers understand where their scope ends. Strategic operating roles vary significantly across companies and growth stages as they ultimately support pressing organizational needs. This adaptability can sometimes lead Knowledge Keepers to be assigned to tasks that extend beyond their core responsibilities. Jo highlighted the trap that many companies fall into by excessively relying on ops leaders as defacto project managers whereas they’re best suited to drive scalable impact by empowering everyone to be better project managers. 

Other strategies shared by the panelists and attendees included clearly documenting their team responsibilities, getting more comfortable saying no when a request falls outside their purview, and ultimately positioning the function as a culture driver versus a process driver. 

2) Communication of Impact

The panelists and attendees alike admitted to being uncomfortable with self-promotion as they have pride in supporting other teams. However, this reluctance to take the spotlight and communicate their individual and team impact can work against their ability to drive influence across the organization.

Gerisha shared that one way of demonstrating the impact of Product Ops was to tie the work back to metrics such as revenue, cost savings, and impact on customers. Jo also emphasized the importance of communicating the ‘why’ behind their team’s work more than the ‘how’ as a way to better articulate BizOps' impact and purpose. 

All in all, the conversation concluded with a need to have a dedicated follow-up session on how to better measure and improve how Knowledge Keepers communicate their impact separate from their supporting metrics. 

3) Cross-company Alignment 

As we explored the issue of isolated information silos and potentially conflicting approaches across team functions, it became evident that Knowledge Keepers often become interpreters and connectors across the organization. The intersection between processes, routines, and culture emerged as a critical focal point.

Gerisha mentioned that one of the things she focused on in Product Ops at both TrueLayer and Dojo to help strengthen cross-company alignment was setting up a centralized source of truth for things like quarterly planning information and product roadmaps. Once the information was housed in a known, accessible, and up-to-date place, it created a strong foundation on which to build.

4) Adoption of Processes & Programs 

Once Knowledge Keepers find the solution to tackling an organizational fire, the second step to influencing peers and employees to embrace change and adopt new routines is no small feat.  During the group discussion, the phrase “everything is marketing” resonated as a mantra to help remind Knowledge Keepers to position their recommendations in terms of ROI and organizational impact before getting into process details. 

Gerisha shared a pro trip where she regularly looks to spot embedded evangelists who work with her to build out recommended programs. She specifically partnered with product managers to solve a problem about stakeholder engagement and encouraged those PMs to present the proposed solution to their peers in order to help drive adoption while at Dojo.  

Overall, the most important stakeholders to bring along were leadership as their role modeling impacted the likelihood of organizational-wide adoption. 

5) Inaccurate, Inaccessible Team Data 

As people, teams, and companies are in a constant state of flux, maintaining a clear organizational structure becomes paramount to employees being self-empowered to effectively collaborate across teams and functions. 

Jo shared a pertinent example from her time at Stripe where employees advocated for an organizational chart as the company scaled. They eventually built a homegrown solution to foster clarity on where teams sat and what individuals owned, however, the information was often incomplete as changes were frequent in the fast-growing org. 

Gerisha concluded that while she had experimented with various tools and processes to help address this problem, more could still be done in this area to deliver a go-to solution. This highlights an opportunity for this community to help the Ourspace team tackle this universal problem by influencing the roadmap and more! 

Introducing the Knowledge Keepers Community 

Our London roundtable marks the beginning of a series of gatherings dedicated to amplifying the role of Knowledge Keepers. This budding community will serve as a hub for sharing best practices, exchanging ideas, and bringing together the individuals who play a vital role in shaping the operational landscape of teams. 

If you identify as a Knowledge Keeper, read more about our mission and stay tuned to what we have in store for this community!