The other day I posted on, Participation is the currency of the knowledge economy.
The word “participation” can be interchanged for “social captial”, “conversation”, “contribution”, knowledge sharing”, but I chose “participation”, because “conversation” cannot happen without “participation.” And “participation” sounds more involved, sustained, or perpetual than “contribution” or “knowledge sharing.”
Anyway in that post I mentioned that the way companies currently operate is driven by each worker building their “intellectual captial” to get ahead, and to differentiate themselves. The more “intellectual capital” you have the more you are worth something or unique to the company. This kind of means workers compete with each other, or at least try to have unique power that will make them an asset to the firm. In this environment “knowledge sharing” would be the worst thing you could do, as you would be giving away your “edge”, giving away what makes you a unique asset to the company.
Of course we all know the “wisdom of crowds”, and an open and transparent participation model leads to ideas and conversation, which leads to discovery and collaboration. The act of sharing and finding saves others from re-inventing the wheel, saving money and project cycle-time.
A company that runs on a social captial model runs on the notion that “two minds are better than one”, so why not have a culture where these minds have open dialogue. In the end this opportunity for access to knowledge to help you with your work and to find new work brings the company closer to innnovation, and more honest client relationships.
No matter how simple the tools, and no matter even if people understand the benefits of “knowledge sharing” it just won’t happen if the company culture is about “intellectual captial” rather than “social capital.”
Enterprises ought to be thankful that enterprise 2.0 knowledge sharing tools can be a catalyst for culture change to a more social enterprise.
All the good stuff you knew about “social captial” but couldn’t practice because of the deficient tools, is now no longer a frustration.
Culture has to change to a learning organisation and social tools can help achieve and sustain this notion. And that’s what they are, “tools”…just because I have a hammer it doesn’t mean I can build a house. Likewise just because I have a blog doesn’t mean I will use it, I have to be guided facilitated, exposed to successes, see others doing it…build confidence.
Anyway the reason for this post was an article by David Fitch in KM Review Vol 11 Issue 1 March/April 2008, called “In pursuit of justice-and knowledge.” It perfectly illustrates the “knowledge hoarding” characteristic, and why I think knowledge sharing tools won’t do anything to allieve this unless the “culture of work” changes to a more social culture, and only then will these social tools augment this whole new attitude.
Here is this quote on why keeping knowledge to yourself makes sure you keep getting your pay cheque:
“Lawyers at large corporate law firms in the US tend to be paid on an “eat what you kill” basis - they earn according to the business they personally bring into the firm. That means that lawyers in the same firm are competing against each other, so there’s not a lot of incentive for them to exchange knowledge with each other. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that it kills knowledge sharing.
In the UK, by contrast, the system “lock-step equity” means that lawyers are paid according to the financial performance of the firm as a whole, so they’re more willing to share knowledge with each other.”
That’s a top-down move I’d like to see.
Basically we work for passion and to get paid, and if the ecosystem you work in pays you according to how well the family is doing, rather than how well you are doing, then it’s in your interest to help out your family.
The workplace has to change from the “competition” model to the “social” model.
I agree that competition is good for achievement and performance, and some might say that the people who get more sales are paying the slackers.
But this really won’t go unnoticed, if a slacker is not making use of the shared knowledge pool to apply to action opportunities, then that’s an even worse excuse to not getting results, as now they have the social captial to draw on, not just their own know-how.
Sure you get paid based on the holisitic performance, but if you’re not doing any work, you’re not gonna last long.
If you’re not a regular in online social conversations, then it’s seen you are not part of the family growth.
Basically, since each member of the team’s know-how affects everyone’s pay check, then it’s in the interest of the team to educate each other, and to make sure everyone member is “aware” of what’s going on in order to perform optimal output.
I bet in this type of “lock-step equity” ecosystem, enterprise 2.0 tools would be a god-send as it helps share knowledge which is crucial to getting your pay check.
In this ecosystem blogs and wikis help you share knowledge easier and more effectively, and the more tuned this system is, the more the know-how is spread. And the more you know, the better you can perform, and the better you perform, the better the enterprise performs, and inturn guarantees everyone a pay cheque.
In an indirect way knowledge sharing = money.
In this ecosystem taking away a blog or a wiki, is like taking away a hammer from a builder.
I still don’t think sharing knowledge in this environment is quite “altruistic”, as you are only doing it for personal benefit, it’s in your interest everyone does well inorder to sustain a good pay cheque. But you hope after a while this may evolve into genuine passion for the family.
[ADDED 18/04/09: Efficiency, performance, constraints and things 2.0 - “Then come the policies laid down by the organization. Of the the most obvious example is the impact of the evalutation and rewarding models on the way a group operates. They would be more efficient if they helped each other ? But in order to get a good evaluation and the related rewards and bonuses they have, in the best case, to ignore each other, in the worse case to play the one against another.”]