Thursday, 26 August 2010
My initial thought was that in Physics, Power is the ability to do Work, while in Business, Knowledge is the ability to take effective action. To that extent, Knowledge gives you Power. You may not use the power until you effectively apply the knowledge, but you have the power, as you have the ability to act effectively.
Alan O'Neill took the conversation in the direction of knowledge hoarders, talking about people who use knowledge for personal power, claiming that "I believe that if someone doesn't share Knowledge they become a liability; if you think about it, if one individual has all of the key knowledge about a particular feature, product, technology or process and won't share it - What happens if they leave, or worse still drop dead? That Knowledge is lost! At best it is going to cost the company money to recreate the knowledge and introduce time delays whilst recreating the knowledge"
This harks back to my blog post on the KM culture shift, which involves the shift within the organisation from "knowledge is personal power" (which is what drives the knowledge hoarding that Alan describes) to "shared knowledge is organisational power"
Akin then asked, how would you define power in this context?
I believe that in the work context, power is the ability to gain advantage!
So someone who hoards knowledge gains advantage over those who don't, and a company who's staff share and re-use knowledge gains advantage over competitors who don't. That's where the power lies.
Shared knowledge, shared power, shared advantage.