Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Why is knowledge sharing so often a waste of time?

Thanks to David Gurteen for pointing out this Dilbert strip which is in many ways a valid viewpoint about knowledge sharing. Too often, companies set up "knowledge sharing" activities with little purpose and little focus, other than "lets get together and share knowledge across disciplines". It's a bit like John Cleese's "Monday morning meeting" ("Why are we at this meeting?" "Because its Monday and this is our Monday meeting. We always have a Monday meeting"). People with real work to do, don't bother to attend.

"Let's share knowledge" is not a business purpose, and I can empathise with Dillbert's reaction.

Far better is to focus your "knowledge sharing" on a business need.

  • "Let's get together and pool what we know about new market entry, and see if we can help accelerate the China market"
  • "Let's get together and see if we can understand why our success rate on new products is so low, and see what needs to be done"
  • "Let's get together and compare our experience to determine the best way to track our containers once they leave the warehouse"

These are all valid focused reasons, and represent knowledge-sharing for the purposes of problem-solving.

This is knowledge-sharing as real work.

If this were the case, Dillbert would have far less justification for dropping out.

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