Once upon a time in IT, which wasn’t all that long ago, possessing deep knowledge on a topic meant we could be considered experts. Our knowledge was a source of pride and job security; we were always in demand for our rarefied expertise. We’ve since learned the demand for our expertise swiftly outstrips the capacity of a handful of gurus, and we have to share information and collaborate as teams to scale to the increasing needs of our clients.
We can all relate to needing necessary information, and not knowing exactly where to find it or who to ask. While we’re hunting answers to our questions, we’re losing productive time and focus, which only frustrates us further. If the answer only resides in the head of a colleague, but you don’t know to ask that person, you can’t benefit from their expertise.
Furthermore, the next person with that same question can’t benefit from your quest for knowledge without embarking on their own scavenger hunt.
A study by McKinsey Group Institute discovered interaction workers – high-skill knowledge workers, including managers and professionals (like us) – were spending 28% of their average workweek on emails, and another 19% searching for and gathering information. MGI further determined the productivity of workers could be improved 20-25% by improving collaboration and communication within and across enterprises.
What would that mean to our day-to-day life and work? Having fast, scalable means of communication and a searchable record of our collective knowledge as a company could mean:
- Faster, more streamlined communication with each other
- Smoother paths to collaboration
- Lowering barriers between roles, titles and capabilities within the company and with our customers
Technology alone can’t solve every problem, as we know from our client projects. It’s the same with sharing our knowledge with each other: combining technology with behavioral and cultural shifts will bring more benefits than using technology alone. If we can create a Sharing Culture, we’ll have the collective genius of all of us across the company to help each other on our projects.
Here’s some ideas on how to foster a Sharing Culture:
- On a personal level, we can overcome the notion that keeping information close to the vest is what gives your experience value, and consider instead sharing what you know with your colleagues to increase the impact of your expertise.
- On a team level, we can trust each other enough to raise our hands when we need help, and ask for what we need. In response, we can share our knowledge with those seeking help. Recording our knowledge in shared documentation or recorded demos can help increase the reach of our collective knowledge.
- On a company-wide level, we can participate in mentorship activities (formal or informal), or keep an eye on internal message boards or chat channels to find questions for which you may have an answer, no matter what role you play or title you hold in the organization.