How to Promote Knowledge-Sharing?

Work – in particular the bit of the organisation I’m attached to – is a very information-rich environment. Information is our stock-in-trade, I guess you could say. And if information is ‘got right’ then I guess there’s a relationship there with knowledge (data->information->knowledge?).

So, having to think about promoting knowledge-sharing…in the context of social-networking approaches, and web 2.0 enablement(?), is an interesting task. It starts actively with making an input to a corporate event, after an external representative from a corporate leader in this field has described their experience and approach.

In this context, I guess my task is to play the barefoot doctor. We have no infrastructure to speak of (technically) and though we surely have plenty of collective experience organisationally and socially, we have not yet spent any of the necessary time realising this.

So, where to start? I think by letting them paddle about in it for a bit, and perhaps the easiest approach to this is just to tell a story. After all, I’ve been paddling about in it for a while now (the injecting yourself with cowpox analogy may be useful), so I think I will take them on a wee journey, that I did myself last week, involving the tagging of a blog post for our Green Group.

For a general initial framework, I came across a very handy post by Dave Briggs only the other day that, among other things, outlines the process or steps involved in bringing a community together (online).

  • Establish tags – common ways of describing and finding content that everyone can use: local gov, local press, individual bloggers, existing communities and groups
  • Aggregate content – use the tags to bring the conversation about the area into one place
  • Communicate – start to talk amongst the various content producers
  • Meet – get everyone meeting and talking to each other in real life
  • Develop – put together some of the infrastructure together to allow for further collaboration and coworking, both online and off”

[emphases added – why?, see below]

As knowledge-sharing can presumably only happen within some sort of community, these steps seem applicable.

And as the first logical thing to do, it seems, is to work out how you classify (and thereby identify, describe and sort) the knowledge you wish to share, then it seems to make sense to focus on tags, only, for a first input. Roaming all over the various tools one can use will probably be just confusing. Other things like the sort of things wikis are good for, will just have to wait. After all, folk will want, and I hope value, the opportunity to state whether they’d like to hear more rather than be given the whole 9 yards without the option.

Useful resources for things to think about for later on though, include:

  • If people are persuaded enough to keep with the basic idea for the moment, and might like to think about it unharassed by a zealot, I guess they will need handy wee things to take away and think about, such as:
  • Then if people decide they would like to have a try – stick a toe in the water – then a range of sort-of stik-a-brik sets will perhaps be needed. Here (many thanks to Dave Fleet) is an inspiring example of the genre (albeit not related to tagging, but to online ‘listening’ – something people will need to try out early anyway). 
  • Later on when people are really beginning to think their way into what’s involved, they may want to consider roles and tasks – as in ‘what will people need to do differently’ and more importantly, how they will need to think differently about what they do.
  • At various points, people seem to start talking about toolkits:
    • The NTEN’s ‘We Are Media’ project is the best one I’ve seen recently, both in terms of content (see the Modules, accessible via links in the left hand menu) and the process of collating it – a classic use of a wiki, and as such a wonderful learning example.
    • Emma Mulqueeny and colleagues in Whitehall and thereabouts are also thinking of one, which will surely be relevant.

But there surely won’t be one given route into this…must go and read more of the NTEN material for now, and perhaps Emma’s later.

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4 Responses to “How to Promote Knowledge-Sharing?”


  1. 1 Jeremy July 30, 2008 at 2:48 pm

    Good summing up of the state of the nation. I work at the Ministry of Justice by the way.

  2. 2 peterashe July 31, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    Thanks for this Jeremy – have updated the post accordingly. As you have sussed, this is simply me trying to sort out what I would do if they say “yes” (as in “what should we do next”) at the meeting I’m presenting to soon (an amusingly traditional process, in the circs.).

    Always minded of the last scene in the Graduate, on the bus, after they’ve raced out of the marriage service, where the camera zooms in on Dustin Hoffman’s face and he’s thinking “s£^t!, what do I do next…?”

  3. 3 Beth Kanter July 31, 2008 at 3:05 pm

    Hi Peter,

    thanks for linking to the NTEN project I’m leading. I’m also writing a regular reflection piece on my blog about the process – called working wikily.

    You can find some of the posts here:
    http://beth.typepad.com/beths_blog/working_wikily/

  4. 4 peterashe July 31, 2008 at 3:49 pm

    The NTEN project is inspiring, Beth – really.

    There are lots of nice things about it, but for now I would just say that the juxtaposition of the material (which you can see growing under your gaze on the wiki) and your running commentary (in your blog) is wonderfully explanatory and stands to help any other community which might be minded to do something similar.

    Colleagues in the NHSScotland eLibrary have been supporting health-oriented Communities of Practice for some while now, via ‘Shared Spaces’ (see the box on http://tinyurl.com/6pa4yc ) and have been collating a Guide to developing a CoP. But I think they/we have plenty to learn from your approach (maybe even join in! – though a national health service might not quite be the sort of ‘non-profit’ that people are used to thinking about 😉

    One possibly useful resource for now: ‘How Good is our Network?'(at http://tinyurl.com/6gy32u ) – as you might think, it’s a sort of diagnostic check list.

    thanks again – all power to your elbow.
    Peter


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