I have given a lot of thought, I mean A LOT of thought, to collaboration (a fancy name for idea sharing) and the technology that better enables it over the last three months. You can’t sit in the The Chariot Group’s offices without thinking about it.
I’ve tried to learn the lingo and I’ve tried to understand the difference between an integrator and a distributor. But mostly, I’ve contemplated why organizations either embrace or resist the investment into these tools and solutions.
I have recognized a common theme:
Organizations who have a culture of knowledge sharing…a non-hierarchal culture of knowledge sharing…are the ones who will make the investment into collaborative technology.
They aren’t interested.
What is non-hierarchal knowledge sharing?
I think of it as communicating or engaging “in the white space.”
What I mean is that the supervisors and employees aren’t “slaves” to the organizational chart. They aren’t minimizing or framing their communication within the lines that connect them to their boss, to their colleagues, to other departments, etc. Instead, all employees choose to engage with people all over the organization based on their desire to share/gain information with/from them and regardless of where they sit on the organizational chart.
Does your organization enjoy non-hierarchal knowledge sharing?
Good question…let’s explore…
- Do you have to ask permission from a manager to meet with and/or get something from his/her staff?
- Does your supervisor’s idea of brainstorming including pontificating and pushing his own solutions?
- Do employees often get shut down with “we don’t do it that way” excuses?
- Do employees consistently need approval to innovate or solve problems?
- Do employees pride themselves on what they know instead of priding themselves on what they share?
- Does individual success outweigh team success?
If you’ve answered yes to the above questions, you probably don’t enjoy non-hierarchal knowledge sharing in your organization.
Not only will your organization remain behind the times with collaborative technology, you probably won’t share your creative and mind-blowing ideas with people that matter either.
That’s a bummer.
How can you turn that boat and start to enjoy the benefits of non-hierarchal knowledge sharing?
- If you’re a supervisor, model it!
Solicit information from and share information with others, regardless of their “stature.”
- If you’re a supervisor, empower and encourage it!
Suggest people meet, give them spaces to effectively do so, and give them time to do it thoroughly or well. And for goodness sake, thank them for their time, their talents and their ideas, even if they don’t find the answer for world peace.
- If you’re an employee, disrupt the status quo!
Instead of requesting permission to share ideas and information with whats his name, take charge and tell your supervisor and whats his name’s supervisor that you’re meeting with him, that you’re sharing with him, or that you’re soliciting something from him BECAUSE you need it to do your job better, you need it to make your program excel, you need it to make your organization succeed.
- If you’re an employee, quit being selfish with what you know or who you know!
Your strength lies in how large your information posse is, not in how close you keep things to your chest. That being said, share what you know and connect people to each other who know other things.
I think the above activities have to be commonplace in the workplace, not just found in little pockets of excellence. Only then will your organization have a culture of true knowledge sharing.
If you’re lucky, you can then start to embrace the concepts of sharing knowledge more efficiently with super cool collaborative technology.