Knowledge Sharing in the Workplace: What’s the Big Deal?

Posted by Katelind Hays on Apr 26, 2018 1:46:32 PM
Katelind Hays

37109732_sVirtually There Session Recap

During his recent Virtually There session, JD Dillon shared a fascinating story,

"The week I joined a previous organization, our eLearning Developer quit. It wasn’t cause and effect, but I was suddenly the eLearning Developer. In my first project, I was picking up from behind and needed to find source info for this project. I was scouring through SharePoint Sites – I was having a hard time finding info I needed. If I can’t find it and I have admin capabilities what is happening to the frontline employee? What’s their life like if we can’t find info as the training person? It was a much bigger problem that we needed. I met with my boss and said, 'What if we built Wikipedia, but for here?' He thought it was great idea, so we wrote it on a post-it. It sat on my computer monitor for two years.”

Does this story sound familiar to you? You identify an information sharing-related challenge in your organization, you may even come up with a solution, but solving it feels out of reach.

JD believes there’s a fundamental reason for that: it’s not technically our job.

But It Impacts Our Effectiveness

In JD’s experience, shared knowledge and knowledge sharing in the workplace is rarely a training function. He points out, “We aren’t responsible, and often aren’t held accountable for how information moves around or is shared within any workplace.” Other teams, like marketing and corporate communications, usually own that responsibility.

However, just because a dysfunction in knowledge sharing may not be our fault, it still becomes our problem. “It fundamentally impacts everything we do,” JD argues. “Addressing this issue and its associated challenges is critical to shaping learning ecosystems we need to provide in order to keep pace with today’s environments and today’s employees.”

It’s Complicated

In our daily lives, technology has enabled us to easily and quickly share and find knowledge. Need to know how to fix a refrigerator? Head to YouTube! Have a question related to workplace learning? Ask your network on LinkedIn! Wikipedia, JD points out, includes the largest collection of shared information the world has ever seen. Technology provides us with access and has transformed the way we live and learn.

Our organizations saw this evolution and assumed that technology alone would bring that same transparency to the office. Now we have company intranets, social sharing platforms, and apps. But nothing’s really changed – our employees still share information via word of mouth and haven't contributed consistently to corporate knowledge through these technology solutions.

The Fundamental Issue

It’s just knowledge sharing, right? It’s not a make-or-break workplace issue, is it? Actually, it’s kind of a big deal. JD believes, “It’s creating a disconnect between how learning works at home and how learning works at work. At home, you can solve amazingly complex problems at home because YouTube exists. But at work, you can’t find answers to simple questions because information isn’t handled the same way.”

If organizational knowledge sharing is going to evolve, we have to look at the way learning works in everyday life, contextualize the process for our workplace, and encourage real life information exchange behaviors among our employees.

Ready to make the leap? JD has 13 steps you can follow to help employee knowledge go viral in your organization!

Topics: Virtually There, Knowledge Management