Friday 6 March 2009

knowledge sharing and knowledge seeking

We hear a lot about "knowledge sharing". Many of the knowledge management strategies I am asked to review, for example, talk about "creating a culture of knowledge sharing".

(photo from Flickr creative commons, by shmileblik)

I think this misses the point. As I said in my post about Push and Pull, there is no point in creating a culture of sharing, if you have no culture of re-use. Pull is a far more powerful driver for Knowledge Management than Push, and I would always look to create a culture of knowledge seeking before creating a culture of knowledge sharing.

About 6 years ago I worked with a company KM team. The focus of the team, at the time, was on capturing good practice, and at the same time, the organisation was introducing blogs, wikis, discussion forums and yellow pages. They took to these new tools with alacrity, seeing them as new opportunities to share and publish. Knowledge sharing took off like a rocket. The only problem was, there was very little appetite for re-use. And there is no point in sharing knowledge, if nobody wants to reuse it.

So when I review these knowledge management strategies, my immediate response is to challenge the writer to focus on knowledge seeking and knowledge re-use, and not just on knowledge sharing. Create the demand for knowledge, and the supply will follow.

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