Forced knowledge sharing doesn't work.
25.08.2016

Miriam Reichmuth
Marketing

FUNDAMENTAL TO THE SUCCESS OF ANY BUSINESS IS THE ABILITY TO SHARE KNOWLEDGE

However, as every knowledge manager knows, getting individuals to impart knowledge efficiently is almost impossible. Even with the many platforms, collaboration tools, apps and forums, businesses continually struggle to capture and utilize this most valuable resource.

SO WHY DOES IT PROVE SO TOUGH TO GET PEOPLE TO IMPART THEIR KNOWLEDGE?

Here’s the funny thing, it’s not that people are unwilling to share, most colleagues would be more than happy to help by giving knowledge. The problem has more to do with relevance and timing, let me explain.

RELEVANCE

Traditional knowledge sharing requires an expert to record their knowledge in advance for others to find when they need it. All sound good but here’s why it doesn’t truly work. 

  • An expert's time is valuable and few are motivated away from pressing tasks to record knowledge just in case it’s needed in the future.
  • What detail is needed and how in-depth do they need to get?  Experts can write pages and pages on a specific subject, but without further details, it will probably end up being irrelevant. 
  • With no-one asking questions, how do experts know what knowledge to share?
  • Worryingly, many experts don’t consider themselves as such and are afraid to share valuable knowledge for fear of ridicule
  • Many are afraid to put their name to information as it may not be relevant and invites people to contact them with non-relevant questions.

TIMING

Knowledge is not a fixed thing, it changes, evolves, is updated and eventually becomes irrelevant. The term “knowledge management” suggests that knowledge can be controlled, which it can’t. We can simply hope to keep our knowledge sources relevant.

The only time knowledge can be really useful is now, in the present, exactly when someone has a question and needs an answer. This is exactly the best time to get knowledge from an expert.

SO, WHAT CAN YOU DO?

These challenges do not remove the need to capture and make available as much information as possible but, it‘s important to understand that forcing someone to share knowledge in advance does have it’s downsides and will never be the complete answer.

The good news, ask an expert a specific question to solve a pressing issue and they’re more than happy to help. It’s simply a matter of connecting questions with experts and recording the exchange. Identifying experts becomes the next problem, well maybe.

Fortunately, a new approach to this problem is evolving. Businesses are realizing the power of enabled knowledge sharing rather than forcing. AI and self-learning algorithms are openeing the way to finding tacit knowledge and expertise of employees across an organization to connect questions with identified experts in real time. 

Want to find out more about enabling knowledge sharing? Contact us today. 

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