05 March 2007

Organizational cultures not conducive to effective leveraging of knowledge.

The list of 10 “syndromes” listed below is not exhaustive so anyone spotting a missing factor hindering knowledge sharing, please post a comment with your suggestion.

1. A strictly hierarchical top-down structure: The “you should not share knowledge outside your department without your manager’s approval” syndrome.

2. Focus on short-term objectives: the “no need to share knowledge since once objectives are met, it wont be needed anymore” syndrome.

3. Reward achievements of each individual based solely on personal objectives: the “you are judged on what you achieved, not on what others have achieved with your help” syndrome.

4. Organisational silos that do not (or poorly) communicate/collaborate: the “we cannot possibly need help from anyone outside our very experienced and specialized group” syndrome.

5. Lack of trust: the “why should I take the risk to help whom I compete with, I wouldn’t get the recognition for it anyway” syndrome.

6. Internal politics: “Knowledge is Power so I retain it” syndrome.

7. Lack of Awareness of internal knowledge: The “I do not expect anyone in the company to have the experience/skills I need” syndrome.

8. Lack of Availability of internal knowledge: The “others probably could benefit from my experience but I’m too busy to check, let alone actually help” syndrome.

9. Too much Pride: The now too famous "not invented here" syndrome.

10. The confidentiality issue: The “we fear that some vital competitive knowledge can get into the wrong hands, so the least we share it, the smaller the risk” syndrome.

You can test your organization against these 10 cultural traits. The more of them fits your workplace, the more of a challenge you will have to promote knowledge sharing. Some are more difficult to deal with such as internal politics, but I would conjecture that you will need to address all the relevant traits at some point in the process. They all have their importance and only one of them - deep rooted in the organizational culture - can jeopardize leveraging knowledge efforts.

Check my updated list with 6 more syndromes:

Peter-Anthony Glick


At 12:03 PM, Anonymous Yoav said...

Thanks Peter,

This is an excellent, real world description of the barriers to the adoption of web 2.0 technologies.

I think that the Enterprise 2.0/Knowledge Management "movements" should be focused on giving enterprises the tools to change the corporate culture and stop being so technology oriented.

At 11:17 PM, Anonymous Hilary Burrage said...

Very interesting list, Peter.

I think, from my multi-stakeholder experience of trying to get things done in public provision and regeneration projects, that I'd like also to suggest the following 'syndromes':

'No-one's paying us to have a wider vision'

'We'll define our stakeholders as the people we already know'

'We don't understand / accept the validity of what those people over there are saying, so we'll assume we don't need to understand it'

'Trying to think out of the box will only delay things'

(In public provision projects) 'Those so-called stakeholders aren't actually funding anything directly, so they're not real customers'

'Who needs a 'translator' to get us all to understand each other?'

.. and so forth.... I expect some of these ideas would fit inside your current listing, but it's a difficult task to identify all the ways in which things can be disconnected...


At 9:51 PM, Anonymous Jean Pommier said...

Great list, Peter!

Without aiming at building an exhaustive list of all the great excuses to refrain for sharing knowledge, I'd add the following ones:

11. The perfectionism issue: the "I won't share until I'm certain it's perfect" syndrome.

12. The timidity issue: the "who am I to teach others, of course they know" syndrome

Jean @ ILOG

At 4:35 PM, Blogger Peter-Anthony Glick said...

Merci Jean, two good additional syndromes indeed. I'll add them to the list.

At 8:34 AM, Anonymous Emile said...

Merci peter !

Tout ceci est tres intéressant ! J'aimerai savoir si tu peut me parler du sujet suivant : Peut on dans une entreprise partager toutes les informations ?
Merci de me repondre sur l'adresse mail suivante


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