What exactly is knowledge sharing all about?
Asking WIIIFM (what is in it for me) before you start to share defeats the objective, you are getting off on the wrong foot. In the same vein, asking you to enter a password protected space with the aim of sharing should send up warning signals. If your CEO comes back from a KM conference and sets up Lotus, LiveLink or eRoom with complex access privilege's, you should question if they have really got the message. Is giving in the knowledge economy just being naive?, How about the groupware vendor that sells tools, but sponsors no work on understanding collaboration, group processes or conducts no ethnographic research?, do you believe they have collaboration at heart or are they just selling more software?
If you share, do you really give knowledge away?
Sharing knowledge does not lessen your store, often it gets you more. Sharing plays a key role in relationships and bonding, happens in small steps and is assisted through community membership.
Sharing expertise as patterns
Patterns focus on solutions to repetitive issues or combination of forces and store valuable experiences in a very compact representation. Writing patterns encourages negotiation of value and meaning, pattern names give fast access to useful knowledge and help to clarify communication in teams. The problem with re-invention is often not a lack of communication but the lack of an appropriate medium for transferring key knowledge. Patterns are artifacts, not theory laden constructs and are not tied to any particular discipline or methodology. Their value comes from social consensus and trial by reuse.
Sharing meeting notes
This goes beyond taking and posting individual notes and sets forth the leverage from having shared spaces.
Sharing procedural & diagnostic steps - Launchpads
Beyond e-wizards are launchpads, e-memopads that allow dialog, store complex diagnostic sequences and pride solution steps. Helpdesk in a PDA?
Context, benefits, downsides and reasoning are important aspects of sharing and major components of meta data and a corporate memory
Possessing a reduced, very focused terminology, where everyone understands the meaning and applies the right term, has profound advantages for companies when they come to apply search engines, construct navigation aids, use visualization tools, implement agent technologies or index their electronic documents. Benefits: faster and more relevant retrieval, more effective communication, meaning templates promote alignment, ease mentoring, reduce training costs. Reuse strategies applied to language.
Making deliberate distinctions to bring forth unique meaning.
Crafting joint concept maps
Concept mapping provides a highly visual way to show relationships between core ideas. Combined with the AHP (Analytical Hierarchy Process)the maps may be used to build qualitative models, elicit gaps, test assumptions and check for consensus. The advantage is to invent best practices for interpreting and annealing concept graphs. The promise of electronic whiteboards is to offer us a new way to anneal pictures rather than text. A graphic introduces spatial reasoning, allowing qualitative visual clustering, distance metrics and intuitive affinity measures.
Although it is nothing more than a feeling right now, I believe there is much value in 'seeing' how we interpret graphics, looking for ways to elicit group consensus and including diversity. Developing a practice and a language for 'looking' at graphics is an important component of knowledge building in groups.
The Blackboard: a shared information space
Consider the wall map in a busy 'war room' with its colored pins showing spatial patterns, remember the blackboard (now it's more likely to be white) with a to-do list, the current concerns and issues or useful contacts.
- The blackboard is an affordance self-organization, short term coordination and memory
People, documents, meetings and other activities often serve as blackboards: interfaces and boundary objects.
Sharing metaphors & stories
Sharing knowledge is comparable to sharing your lighted candle: you have the opportunity to share your flame with others who have unlit candles, increasing the visibility for everyone and losing nothing yourself or you may keep your candle to yourself and get by with a feeble flickering single candle which is eventually going to burn out anyway. By sharing the fire with others, we enable others to keep the fire going and grow it, benefiting everyone. Which scenario do you choose? Which scenario do you think most people choose? Why do you think people don't share knowledge more easily?
Inquiry and reflection as sharing
Sharing is more than access, it is helping others make meaning and obtain understanding. Deeper sharing is possible if the domain is partitioned, the core concepts are negotiated, the environment is scanned and the feedback is shared in community. There needs to be reflection around joint meaning and reciprocity to have quality sharing.
- Denham's article: http://www.smithweaversmith.com/Ksharing.htm
Dialog & sharing
Role of idea generations (divergent ==> convergent rhythm, explicit time milestones) and the practice & place of summary, critique. Keeping identity in the background, creative abrasion, clash of ideas, building meaning around a prototype, making distinctions.
Sharing and networking
- KM Mag 2001, Sharing needs a foundation: http://www.destinationcrm.com/km/dcrm_km_article.asp?id=683
Sharing as commentary
Blogging where you add commentary to links, point & link to insightful remarks, or ideas of other bloggers and highlight views that interest you is an emergent form of sharing. When this is combined with RSS feeds, categorization, specialist search engines and blog-rings it becomes a powerful genre for sharing.
Clearly KM folk talk a lot about knowledge sharing, but we have done little to explore the patterns, gather solutions, understand the role of context, and explicate the real meaning of this complex practice.