Tuesday, 28 June 2016

A great video metaphor for social knowledge "sharing"

The video below is a great metaphor for knowledge sharing. Or is it???

I use this video a lot in our Knoco Knowledge Management training courses. I have yet to find a better metaphor for connectivity within communities of practice and social networks.

BT used the video (about 5 years ago) to sell the concept of connectivity, and to show the possible power when large communities of people are connected and can interact.

However as you watch the video, make a note of the sort of interactions that take place, and then scroll down to my analysis below, to see if you noticed the same thing that I did.

Now scroll

Scroll a little more

Here you are


Did you notice that almost every interaction, other than the last one, was driven by a Question?

  • What's this groove called under my nose?
  • Who wants to buy my fish?
  • What do you think of our prototype?
  • I love being a mum, but does anyone else sometimes feel overwhelmed?
  • Did anyone here go to St Margarets school, Tobago, in 1952?
  • I am looking to meet someone .....
Even that last one is a quesiton in disguise - "does anyone want to go out with me?"

Questions lead to rich interaction. Announcements don't.  

We can see this in LinkedIn, where the announcements-heavy groups have mostly become ghost towns, other than the few question-led examples. Announcement threads received on average 0.1 follow-up responses and comments. Threads that started with a real question received on average 13.5 comments.

Imagine the BT video, but where the interactions were all led by anouncements, and imagine how different the scenario would have felt. Imagine in each case it was the supplier of knowledge stood in the centre of the stadium, starting with the guy in the white coat announcing that "The groove under your nose is called a filtrum", and hoping that someone, somewhere might be interested. That would have been a far less compelling video.

The video is a great metaphor for knowledge seeking, rather than knowledge sharing. This is important - direct requests for help drive 75% to 90% of exchanged knowledge, and asking for help is a far tougher barrier than reponding and should therefore become the focus for our communication and culture change efforts. 

If you are taking the trouble to connect up the individuals in your organisation, by social media or in communities of practice, make sure that the interactions are question-driven wherever possible. 

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