Why is Knowledge Sharing Important?

My colleague Edgar dropped me a note about some workshops on knowledge sharing that he’s preparing for about a hundred practitioners in a knowledge sharing programme organised through the FAO. He asked me these questions, which he believes need to be answered in the programme:

1. what’s knowledge sharing?
2. why is it important for organisations and specifically for projects?
3. is all knowledge sharing good?
4. why should we encourage knowledge sharing?

So I sat in front of a camera and made this 15 minute podcast. I don’t think I got to question 3, but I think I met the other questions. Why do you think knowledge sharing is important?

Download the MP4 video file by right clicking here
Go to the show page on vimeo by clicking here

2 Comments so far

Roan Yong

Hi Patrick,

Thanks for sharing your knowledge! I agree with you that:
1. Knowledge sharing is important.
2. Knowledge sharing has to be proactive. Thus we need to build habits of knowledge sharing.

I think many people would agree on the what and the why of knowledge sharing. A more important question that we should ask ourselves, is: in what context should we share knowledge.

By giving a context to knowledge sharing activities, people will be drawn to the outcome of knowledge sharing. We know that people don’t share knowledge just for the sake of knowledge sharing. The knowledge sharing activities have to revolve around organizations’ problems.

People will seek out their colleagues or peers to gain or share knowledge (active knowledge sharing) if they are clear on the kind of knowledge that they need to gain/share. 

For further info, you can read my blog post: http://roanyong.wordpress.com/2010/07/21/wicked-problems-and-km/

Posted on September 03, 2010 at 06:10 PM | Comment permalink

Patrick lambe

Thanks Roan. Yes, context always shapes knowledge sharing, and I agree with you that wicked problems can serve as powerful “attractors” for knowledge sharing. Not always, sometimes wicked problems are so wicked that people start avoiding them as insoluble!

I don’t know that they are the only context for knowledge sharing. Sharing actually happens all the time in organisations, even if it never seems enough to us knowledge managers - what’s interesting about knowledge sharing is where it’s failing to happen. What I was trying to explain in this video was that if people (especially managers) are more aware of the functional benefits of knowledge sharing, they can be more conscious of creating space and time for it.

I don’t think that knowledge sharing should be seen as a “special case” situation - it should be a consciously practised discipline, and people need a variety of tools and techniques to be able to deploy. Then when wicked problems do arise, they have a variety of ways of sharing to call upon, from their arsenal. Weak knowledge sharing cultures don’t have a range of approaches to deploy, so even when there are wicked problems we share only on instinct, not out of practised skill. For example too many people simply assume that knowledge sharing is about powerpoint slide briefings with a Q&A at the end.

Disciplined organisations, conscious of the value of situational awareness, memory and learning practises, are always much more effective whenever they share, from the routine incident to the wicked problem. Karl Weick’s book ‘Managing Uncertainty’ is a good read on this, for what he calls high reliability organisations.

Posted on September 04, 2010 at 02:01 PM | Comment permalink

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