There are many natural barriers to people and organizations sharing knowledge.
- Failure to appreciate the value of sharing knowledge.
- Lack of understanding how to effectively share knowledge.
- There are no incentives or rewards (material or psychic) for knowledge sharing.
- People are busy and even with the best of intentions don’t develop a habit of knowledge sharing.
- Professionals are afraid to reveal they do not know something; they do not want to take risks or be shown wrong because they would feel embarrassed.
- Concern that sharing knowledge will reduce one’s own value, prestige or recognition. Competition -- real or perceived -- for limited resources decreases motivation and safety for sharing.
- Perceived benefits of knowledge hoarding: makes people feel secure, safe or powerful; people hope to benefit (dollars, power, and credibility) from having exclusive access to knowledge.
- Lack of clarity on issues of confidentiality can lead to either withholding information that can be helpful or sharing it inappropriately.
Benefits to sharing knowledge include:
- Enhancement of effectiveness and efficiency by spreading good ideas and practices.
- Cost effectiveness – knowledge is developed and then re-used by many people.
- Time savings - Professionals learn from their mistakes and those of others.
- Emotional relief and decreased tension are experienced when problems are shared.
- Bonds and connections between professionals are strengthened; solving problems brings people together.
- More sophisticated ideas, insights and information sources are applied to problems resulting in better solutions.
- Innovation and discovery increase as does: excitement, engagement and motivation.
- A feeling of satisfaction from sharing knowledge, much like giving charity, results from making a contribution to society.
- Respectful ways of using knowledge – with attribution and permission -- benefit the person who generates the knowledge and the person who shares it.
People who have a positive experience of knowledge sharing typically wish to continue to invest in knowledge sharing activities.
Good Habits of Knowledge Sharing
"Whoever repeats a statement in the name of the one who said it brings redemption to the world." (Avot 6:6)
Commentary: The sages deemed it so imperative that credit should be given for another's ideas that they identified the act as a cause for redemption, both communal and personal (Midrash Shmuel).
Thank you to Michael Miloff and Ilene Vogelstein for their contributions to this document.
Distributed by Naava Frank & Associates/ Knowledge Communities