I spend much of my work day as many do, writing documents, sending emails and researching online. A typical document that I write goes through several reviews, and I am often leery to send a draft for review until I am almost 70% sure of the content that I have laid out. Through my editing process I often come across some great nuggets of information and the old me use to say, keep that in your back pocket to use when needed.
Yes, I was “knowledge hoarding”.
The term knowledge hoarder is often heard in business as knowledge holds great value. I know more than you, so I hold the power. Knowledge hoarding is often seen as a method of ensuring job security. Employees often feel that the company could not do without them simply because they can’t do without the knowledge they hold inside their heads. As a result, a lot of content is sealed away on home computers, locked down in file stores and databases and kept in silos for no one else to see. This culture is starting to back fire and I like to think that Social Business has something to do with this. The power of “working out loud” sharing those drafts, crowd sourcing ideas and connecting with others both internally and externally to build conversations around content is proving to have significant power that will see a shift in culture to help fuel a more transparent and open work environment.
Collaborating on content is not new; we have had the ability to do this for years. We all send documents through emails, create wikis together, post documents in team spaces, but what is new is the ease and the velocity in how it can happen when powered by the right tools designed with the right strategies. Now, when I embark on writing a new piece of marketing content or get engaged in a new project I look to my network first to see, who can help, who can contribute and who has had success in this area in the past that I can learn from.
Simply sharing what you are working on as you are getting started, maybe in an activity stream or on Twitter or Facebook or by posting an idea to your ideation app - all of sudden you are opening a window of opportunity and inviting others to share their thoughts and or ideas. All of sudden you have 10 or more experts at your fingertips helping you to pull together your research and your project suddenly has wings and you are completing your work in half the time and with a renewed perspective (that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but the possibility is there). Imagine if I could write a marketing piece for a new product based on feedback I am getting directly from a beta customer. I am guaranteed that this piece will now have more meaning since I am more aware of the audience. Of course this sounds easier said than done and much of the concept of “working out loud” comes with change and we all know that change is hard. Removing the knowledge hoarding is a culture shift and changing culture is an uphill battle, but there are many small steps you can start with. For starters, stop storing files in "My Documents" and move them to an intranet portal like environment where others can see it and comment upon it and tag it for find ability. Look to the community and your network and start discovering where the experts live online.
If you have any examples of how you are working out loud, please share them as I would love to hear some more real world examples!