In shareholder activism, knowledge is power and that power often rests in the substance of the documents and reference points you can pool to support your arguments.
Once you engage your shareholder activist campaign and immerse yourself in locating, reviewing, and interpreting the company’s financial documentation, you are well on your way to creating a knowledge base.
The knowledge base you create and nurture will likely be among your greatest assets. It encompasses more than the full scope of documentation and data you collect, but also the contacts you make, the alliances you forge, and the collective experiences of your campaign.
Like in many instances of shareholder activism, you likely may not achieve the exact objectives you established when you set out on your campaign. Still, if your idea is truly worthy and has the potential to affect positive change, your knowledge base will help power its potential.
Ultimately, your campaign may have sprung from the knowledge in your mind, but if it stays there, you will have a hard time achieving success.
Meanwhile, building a successful grassroots shareholder activism campaign requires that you capture and concentrate knowledge in a way that is easily disseminated. Creating a “knowledge base,” of actual physical, accessible depositories of the knowledge you collect, is basically a force multiplier—a capability that, when added to your campaign operations, significantly increases how productive you will be.
Here are some best practices when developing your knowledge base.
Plan Before You Dump
Managing content can be a tedious, laborious task, especially if you do not get it right the first time. As your knowledge base grows, you will be taking in all kinds of documents from many different sources on many subjects. This material is useless if you do not have it properly organized so it is easily accessible by supporters. This is an area where you will definitely need to rely on effective planning and foresight for how the material may be used by others.
Go Digital or Go Home
Paper documents are a nightmare to manage. In some instances, you may want to retain the originals and store them in a safe place. However, all paper documentation should be converted into digital format with a basic scanner. When storing, do not just rely on file names for navigation. Invest in a program that will enable you to make the content in such documents searchable later on. Contact Info@TheShareholderActivist.com for recommendations.
Consider a Content Management System
For most campaigns, a standard file share available as a basic function of all operating systems should suffice. However, as your document storage and sharing needs become more demanding, you should consider the use of a Content Management System. When you are ready for this step, TheShareholderActivist.com can provide numerous recommendations. Also, make sure and browse online and check reviews to make sure you select the right tool for you.
Create an Online Sharing Portal
Whether it is a content management system or an online FTP sharing site, you need to set up some form of portal where people can access content. Keep in mind some of your documents may exceed standard limits on email boxes, so planning to distribute large digital documents via email is not an effective strategy. When you are ready for this step, TheShareholderActivist.com can provide numerous recommendations. Try DropBox, YouSendIt, or similar services.
Standardize a Naming Convention
Adopt a consistent method for file and folder naming and keep names short, ideally something that incorporates the data and subject. For instance, try: Year.Month.Date-Category-Title. Communicate these standards and make sure to get buy-in so team members adhere to the standards and do not compromise your structure.
Assign a Gate Keeper
You need to assign someone the responsibility of being the document custodian shepherding all content to ensure the knowledge base is being properly managed. Request regular updates and review sessions to ensure proper handling of materials is being performed. Trust us, the more organized you are maintaining your content, the more effective you will be with your shareholder activism.
Separate Drafts and Finals
The documents that are still in development need to be quarantined from the final documents that are ready for viewing.
Purge Unnecessary Files
It takes discipline to maintain an effective knowledge base, so do not clutter it up with anything and everything captured by campaign members. If you must, create a staging area where unqualified documents are posted.
Invest in Anti-virus Software
As you are pulling in info from many different sources, you need to ensure this material will not infect your knowledge base. Invest in a subscription to a reliable anti-virus package. TheShareholderActivist.com can provide recommendations, but there are many options available on the market today.
Have a Disaster Recovery Strategy In Place
Do not keep all of your document eggs in a single server basket. If your hard drive crashes, you do not want the collective knowledge of your campaign to be vaporized. At a minimum, purchase external hard drives and back up all campaign research, and store those drives off-site. However, it is more convenient and safer to invest a few dollars in an online storage provider. Advancements in security, storage and pricing make this your best DR strategy.
Remember, your knowledge will be among your greatest assets, so make sure to cherish and protect it with some of these best practices.
To contact Craig McGuire directly, please email Craig.McGuire@TheShareholderActivist.com.