Apparently my Ballerinas and Aircraft Carriers post gained some interest at ministerial level in Wales last week, and I was asked to expand on the subject of cross silo knowledge sharing. Now as it happens this was also the subject of my keynote to KM Asia in Singapore (slides here but no podcast I am afraid) so the subject was already on my mind. I also spoke about it, together with more general knowledge management issues on the 5th in Farnborough, and that has both slides and a podcast.
Now this is one of the big subjects and it comes up all the time in nearly every client I spend any time with, and those I don’t! So, in what has become a fairly substantial post I want to look at some of the reasons why this is seen an issue, some basic facts that need to be taken into account and then some solutions, or rather methods and techniques to allow solutions to evolve. That latter point is key, solutions to complex problems emerge from the application of sound theory, not from simplistic recipes based on bast practice.
The goals of cross silo knowledge sharing are noble ones (said with a tinge of irony I admit). My own experience distilled from multiple conversations over the years reveal the following:
Any one of these would justify investment in finding a solution and many have been tried. In fact you would think people would learn from the fact that this has been a reported problem without a solution, despite multiple attempts over thousands of years. You can find similar complains, albeit in more eloquent language in Roman and Greek literature.
The two common mistakes in finding solutions are:
The first of these assumes that the problem is one of information flow, and that humans process information. The second assumes that the problem is a behavioral one. Now the information processing model of the human brain and behavioral theories of motivation have dominated organisational thinking for some time, even though their basis in cognitive science and systems theory is weak. So what do we know? What basic principles should we take into consideration in finding a solution?
to be continued …
Note: in practice knowing I had to get this one done has help up other blogs so I have been absent for most of December from the blogosphere. I am going to publish in parts to get things back on the road. It will probably end up as 3/4 blogs spread over the next week
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