Friday, May 8, 2009

Why do you share?

I was reading a post the other day called Who owns information. It's been quite a few years since my Knowledge Management class, but I think I've read the article that Jane is referring to.

I think the question here is not Who owns the information, but rather Why do you share information. In my knowledge management class we went through different ideas a tactics to use to get employees who have a wealth of knowledge in certain areas to write KB (knowledge base) articles so that employees who are not in the know can access this KB and tap into the knowledge that these people have.

If you are part of an institution trying to get your members to engage in a community of practice your job is cut out for you. One of the ways to encourage employees contribute is to create a happy and positive environment in which the employees feel like sharing.

If the environment is negative employees will most likely not share what they know because it gives them power. The trick here is to defuse a negative environment and determine what the root causes are because this goes beyond knowledge management.

If the environment is a bit of a gray area - no discontent, but also not terribly excited, then you can give incentives to people to contribute. These may range from a simple pat in the back, to bonuses (extra cash, extra vacation time, an amazon gift certificate, etc.) if the knowledge contributed has been given a thumbs up (i.e. people found it helpful).

If people are generally content, they will contribute for altruistic reasons.

In an ad-hoc, non-company sponsored Community of practice I personally think that true altruism is generally not the case.

I think that there is a tit-for-tat, even at a subconscious level. If I for example post a link with some interesting resource in my community of practice, this has the potential to give me a bump in credibility - an ego boost if you will. It may also encourage other people to post something that I may find valuable that I did not know about.

I may find new friends, I may be offered a new job, I may find a job for a friend who's been out of work. I may just need to have a sense of belonging and a community of practice may be it. Whatever the reward may be, there is always a reward and it falls somewhere on Maslow's pyramid

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