“Sharing knowledge is not about giving people something, or getting something from them. That is only valid for information sharing. Sharing knowledge occurs when people are genuinely interested in helping one another develop new capacities for action; it is about creating learning processes.”
- Peter Senge Scientist and Director, Center For Organizational Learning, MIT Sloan Management
Knowledge and Information are two entirely different terms. The difference lies in a simple statement: Information can be processed and Knowledge can be applied.
Simply passing on the information is not the transfer or sharing knowledge. As said by Peter Senge, the transfer of knowledge occurs within a group when share information willingly.
One of the biggest challenges within organizations is making people to share their knowledge. It’s more likely, the hard won knowledge is not shared. The knowledge is primary advantage that a group member or an employee within the organization possesses.
Let’s look into some of the issues that hinder active knowledge sharing in an organization and try to device a solution.
Problems in Knowledge Sharing
There lies a huge knowledge pool within an organization and companies often make footprints decisions considering the advantages of knowledge network within the organization. The basic problem lies with the environment and culture of the organization. If the management is not encouraging the sharing within the ecosystem of the organization, the employees are discouraged and knowledge transfer is minimum.
Organizational politics and lack of team spirit is yet another aspect creating a non collaborative environment. The individual employee is the part of this milieu, and is intended to maintain the edge over other’s by simply not sharing the ample information and knowledge within the team or group.
The agile nature of business and its uncertainty needs huge amount of communication, collaboration and team work to meet the objectives and yield efficient results.
The communication structure that persists within the company network creates lack of sharing within the employees. The better the communication structure, the more informed employee and decisions are. The transfer of knowledge is shared within the network through communication.
“Communication and collaboration builds trust in the network.”
The engagement of employee in single activity and peer pressure of productivity creates poor sharing.
Other problem areas are: poor means of knowledge capture, inadequate use of technology, internal competition and top to down hierarchical decision structure in organization affecting the work culture of the company and teams or even a single employee.
- Lack of management interest
- Organizational work culture
- Improper communication structure
- Organizational politics
- Extra pressure of productivity
- Inadequate technology use
Challenges to Knowledge Sharing
The very first challenge faced by the management is to create such practices and environment which is an enabler for knowledge sharing. In order to achieve this, a change in the work culture is required. This is a strategic and time taking challenge.
Infusing change in the work ecosystem presents the next challenge.
- How to identify role models and build team around them?
- What roles and responsibilities should be given to an employee and to the team?
- Redesigning the activities that builds team, builds confidence and encourage collaboration, and this includes across all levels of management.
- Creating equal opportunity for recognition and rewards.
- Proper training and brainstorming sessions to bring employees to front.
- Encouraging healthy competitive environment.
“The challenges are all strategic and require involvement and interest of management.”
The management often introduces some tools to improve the interactivity and create a collaborative environment. The tools, techniques and introduction of technology is yet another challenge, as the success of these tools depends upon the user adaptability.
Random introduction of such tool increases complexity for the end user. The selection of any such tool should be based on proper analysis of organizational needs and
“The commitment towards knowledge sharing must be throughout and at all levels of the organization.”
- Change management
- Employee engagement strategies
- Creating equal opportunities
- Management interest
- Selection of proper collaborative tool
What can be done?
There are different approaches towards these problems and challenges. The solutions mentioned here are bit different as they focus on improving the work environment, which is the major hindrance towards sharing of knowledge.
Encourage Relationships and Team Work
The management and organization as a whole should work like a team. Bringing people together to learn from each other’s knowledge and experiences. This can be
done face-to-face or through a virtual network.
The different locations should inter communicate and collaborate to improve the knowledge base of the company. Building communities, social events in company, or web sessions and discussions can be methods that can help towards this direction.
The knowledge sharing practices should be mixed in the workflow at all levels of organization. Collaboration and sharing should be a method to get the work done. The information flow should be cross functional and across teams. This will generate new workaround and better work flow.
Reviews after defined phases, brainstorming can be built in the workflow to improve the amount and quality of knowledge in an organization.
Develop Conversational and Collaborative Platform
Develop space or a platform for conversation, physical or virtual. Hold meetings and discussion sessions to achieve this. Use motivation, recognition and develop trust among the individuals and teams and keep clarity and transparency in process and business.
Use some tool which can act as a platform where this can be possible. The challenges should met by the organization to enable growth and creating knowledgeable workforce.
Different approaches can be adopted depending upon the situations but organizational culture and individual behavior forms the important part of the strategy to improve knowledge sharing.