What Would a Knowledge Sharing Policy Look Like?

When you want to introduce new information or knowledge management practices and habits in an organisation, it’s usually a good idea to make sure that your organisation’s policies reflect the things you want to happen. This doesn’t mean that the policies do the work of implementation and change management for you (ie you can’t just issue a policy and then sit back and wait for magic to happen), but they support it by capturing (hopefully) in concise language what you’d like to happen, so that everybody is operating from the same point of view. With Marita Keenan last year, I co-authored a guide to knowledge and information management policy development.

We always recommend to our clients who are developing or revising their information and knowledge management related policies to go out and look for examples of good practice on the internet. There are lots of them out there, especially in public sector organisations hailing from Canada, Australia and the UK. The examples will give you good ideas, and if you look at a few you’ll get a sense of all the different factors to consider.

Some months back one of our clients came back to us to say they were developing an information sharing policy and hadn’t been able to find any such examples. On searching for exemplars myself, including via the actKM public forum, I realised that there is very little concrete and specific guidance on knowledge and information sharing behaviours - which is strange, I find. Most of the material out there is either issuing generic feel-good statements saying that sharing is good and a policy should be developed, or stipulating the conditions in which information should not be shared ie as a disguised information security policy. So I sat down to write a draft version myself. 

The contents of this document cover all the main principles and guidelines for effective sharing (I think), but I’m hoping you, the readers will give feedback and point out any factors I’ve missed. I have written the document as if it is part of a suite of sub-policies sitting under a generic knowledge and information management policy and using a formal policy template (see the guide Marita and I wrote for an example of what I mean). Ie, this is not a complete Knowledge and Information Management Policy – it just relates to sharing of information and knowledge.

It’s also written very formally to express what needs to happen from an organisational point of view. I wouldn’t recommend this as the communication form of the document for ordinary members of staff! Those provisos aside, all feedback welcomed. A last reminder: the policy alone does not remove the need for active interventions to change a culture positively!

I would like to acknowledge the help of Mark Gould, Mark Schenk, Jack Vinson, Alan Dyer, Neil Olonoff, Stephen Bounds, Nigel Phillips, Matt Moore, Patti Anklam, Marita Keenan, Peter Hobby , Mark Rogers and Christopher Zielinksi who all made suggestions or contributed samples via the actKM Forum in June 2007, and Dave Pollard, whose June 2005 post on corporate blogging policy I found both practical and inspiring.

Read the policy (in Word format, please feel free to use with acknowledgement)

2 Comments so far

Thanks Patrick,
It is a good, general policy for a large organization. It can even apply to my rather small organization, leaving out the committee structures. (admin organization <50 and @ 300 irregular volunteers)
I have one question—what is the ICT department you mention twice 7.6 and 7.7? Is that what I would call the IT (Information Technology) Department?

Posted on September 11, 2007 at 12:22 AM | Comment permalink

Patrick Lambe

Yes that’s rght Kelly - thanks for the feedback!

Posted on September 11, 2007 at 07:12 AM | Comment permalink

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