Knowledge management starts with sharing

Many organizations struggle with ‘knowledge’. Everyone thinks it’s important, many try to spread knowledge among employees by creating a knowledge base on their intranet, but only few really succeed. What does it take to manage knowledge? It starts with sharing.

Still too many information workers are reluctant (to say the least) to share their precious knowledge. They think their knowledge keeps them ahead of the rest and thus provides them a power base. They have a narrow understanding of the creed “Knowledge is power”.

This approach may have worked in the old economy, but in the information-rich present (almost) no single person’s knowledge is so vital that others fully have to depend on it. In fact, people do not want to be dependent of others and will look for ways to gain knowledge themselves. The supreme information source ‘Internet’ unlocks many times more information than one single person can hold. Those who guard their knowledge so frantically are eventually passed by others, are being excluded (or worse: ignored) and might even be considered ‘old relics’. What use is it to be a self declared authority, when no one is listening anymore? Information workers who do share their knowledge are much more respected and being consulted for advice. Successful authorities or guru’s can only hold their status by sharing their knowledge.

Does this mean you give away all that you know? It depends. No, you won’t give away all your knowledge to your clients for free. You don’t want to put yourself out of business. But on the other hand, do your clients have enough time and background to do your work? Mostly not, but they do wish to understand enough of the subject to identify their problems or needs, to decide whether they need your expertise. Among peers (whether in-company or globally) sharing knowledge is not just giving knowledge, it’s also interacting with other professionals like you; people who react on your information feed you with you insight. They might be people you wish to learn from yourself and they may be more willing to share their knowledge with people with whom they interact. Sharing and interacting increase yours and others knowledge level.