Sharing is the super star of the KM vocabulary while re-use is the orphan.
Just think of the number of times you have heard or read the following
- “We want our people to share”
- Knowledge sharing strategy
- Chairman’s Prize for knowledge sharing
- “Our focus in on getting staff to share their knowledge”
I prefer to use the terminology ‘knowledge sharing and re-use’. The reason being is that in many occasions I have seen ‘knowledge sharing’ becoming ‘knowledge broadcasting’. Now there is absolutely nothing wrong with knowledge broadcasting provided that you understand that is what you are doing, you are broadcasting, not sharing. ‘Knowledge sharing’ is frequently in one direction eg from the broadcaster to an unknown and frequently untargeted audience.
Knowledge sharing can also become a bit of an ego trip; “Look at how clever I am; look at what I know” rather than a genuine attempt to pass knowledge that they possess to someone that can use it. It can also get caught in the KPI or numbers game eg “We had 1,000 uploads this month, lots of people are sharing their knowledge”. Bigger numbers mean better knowledge management, if only it was as easy as that.
I prefer to focus on re-use. Re-use tells me if it has been of any use to anyone. Has anyone been able to use it to improve their productivity? Has anyone been able to use it to reduce operating costs? Has anyone been able to use it to improve safety? Has anyone……………well you get the picture. You might have what you think is the most valuable piece of knowledge in your organisation and want to share it with everyone in the organisation but if it’s of no use to them, does it really have value?
So lets help the underdog, lets help ‘re-use’, lets champion it’s cause and work to make ‘knowledge sharing and re-use’ the norm.