Are you a knowledge hoarder?
Posted by Amy Wilson on December 21, 2010
Intentional or not, knowledge hoarding isn’t going to get you anywhere.
In the past, people have sought comfort (and possibly power) in their prized knowledge – dispensing it only on an as needed basis. This worked in a world that operated on one-to-one expertise transactions. But the world has changed, and, as John Hagel points out in his research (Power of Pull), we need to focus on knowledge flow. Knowledge is not a specific piece of information, but rather an idea that builds momentum and evolves. What makes things even trickier is that this knowledge is often unformed and difficult to express in the early stages. (John refers to this as tacit knowledge)
If we don’t really know what we know or how to express that knowledge, it makes it easy to hoard knowledge. How do we share a spark of an idea, something seemingly unimportant, but could potentially change the business? From personal experience, I find this really hard. First, I’m an introvert. Second, I’m a contemplater. Basically, I spend a lot of time in my head. Meanwhile, I want to share. I know I should share and I can appreciate the benefits that occur when I do share. So how do I overcome the fear of sharing those unformed, ridiculous thoughts? I build trusting relationships. I find and build a network of people to whom I can express raw thoughts – people who will appreciate them, add to them, contradict them. Even though I think rationally, I allow myself to connect emotionally – to open up to others. Even so, I have to work hard and remind myself that it’s OK to share the silly thoughts, the inkling of an idea. It’s not so scary.
I had the pleasure of attending a talk by John a couple of weeks ago at the TEDxBayAreaWomen event. John – thank you for the great insight – I am now as big of a fan as Mark 🙂 John’s key message was that we need trust-based relationships to create knowledge flow and you can’t build trust without expressing vulnerability. Ultimately, I believe this kind of thinking will be just as important as, say, developing a growth mindset – in terms of building successful people and organizations in the future.