Knowledge Sharing

E. Forrest Christian Change, Coaching, Knowledge Leave a Comment

An article by James Roberson (“CMb 2004–16: ‘Knowledge sharing’ should be avoided“) got me thinking about the problems inherent in the dictive to share knowledge. You know what happens: the boss, who is too small to be your real boss even though he’s your boss’s boss, gathers everyone together and points out that y’all missed some great opportunities because what one group knew another didn’t. “So we have to start sharing knowledge!” You, as the good expert that you are, roll your eyes and start figuring out ways to meet this as a performance requirement for your performance review without actually having to talk to the morons who want your knowledge.

There’s a bunch of problems in this hypothetical situation.

  1. The company believes it can have knowledge markets without having the requisite organizational structures, or lack thereof.
  2. The boss doesn’t understand knowledge markets because he’s not in one, since he’s so out of his league in managing the technical experts who have a great complexity in their thinking (ala Jaques)
  3. Because he doesn’t trade on the internal knowledge markets, he doesn’t understand the problem of knowledge. Just because I know it doesn’t mean that the others can understand it, even if I could explain it to them. And that works both ways.
  4. You have an attitude problem and should be promoted.

Problems 1, 2 and 4 are organizational problems that won’t go away because they serve to keep incompetent people in power. I am less sanguine about affecting change from the inside than many of my peers.

Problem 3, however, is worth looking at, because even well organized companies have this problem.

About the Author

Forrest Christian

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E. Forrest Christian is a consultant, coach, author, trainer and speaker at The Manasclerk Company who helps managers and experts find insight and solutions to what seem like insolvable problems. Cited for his "unique ability and insight" by his clients, Forrest has worked with people from almost every background, from artists to programmers to executives to global consultants. Forrest lives and works plain view of North Carolina's Mount Baker.  [contact]

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