05 December 2009

Corporate cultures not conducive to knowledge sharing and collaboration

I thought of reposting my list of cultural traits that identify an organization where the corporate culture is not conducive to knowledge sharing and therefore creativity and innovation. This list combines the 16 from this post and 4 from this one.

And here is a challenge to anyone reading this: Do you know one medium or large company with an internal culture not bearing a single of these 20 traits? If yes, please post a comment with its name.

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. Organizational 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.

11. Job Description framing: The "No-one's paying us to have a wider vision" syndrome.

12. Groupthink effect: The "We'll define our stakeholders as the people we already know" syndrome.

13. Only money talks: The "those so-called stakeholders aren't actually funding anything directly, so they're not real customers" syndrome.

14. Perfectionism resulting from fear of being wrong: the "I won't share until I'm certain it's perfect" syndrome.

15. Modesty resulting from lack of encouragement: the "who am I to teach others, of course they know" syndrome.

16. Top-executives misunderstanding KM challenges: The "this knowledge sharing sounds great! Can you order everyone to do it tomorrow please?" syndrome.

17. Dominance of explicit over tacit knowledge sharing: The "we only truly value what is written down and validated" syndrome.

18. Lack of social networks: The "only the networks which are supporting business processes are important and encouraged" syndrome.

19. Lack of knowledge management strategy and sharing initiatives into the company’s goals and strategic approach: The "Intellectual Property is the only Intellectual Capital that is worth managing strategically" syndrome.

20. Intense internal competitiveness within business units, functional areas, and subsidiaries:
The "we only share knowledge within our team since everyone else is potential competition" syndrome.

You can test your organization against these 20 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.

02 December 2009

The latest trends for Intranet development

This IBF blog post from Paul Miller about the coming of “Intranet 3.0” gives 3 very good examples of large corporate intranets pushing the boundaries of internal communication and collaboration.

Although I am not a fan of these meaningless numeric names such as Web 2.0 or Enterprise 2.0 (I’ve even seen Web 1.5 being used!) the eight Intranet 3.0 trends listed can - when combined - represent no less than a workplace revolution.

The 3 organizations given as examples are Sun, IBM and Nissan. The common theme I picked up between these cases is the strategic importance given to embedding the Intranet in business operations. This quote from Ethan McCarty (IBM) is spot on:

The intranet is so deeply woven into daily life at IBM, it's part of every employee's day to use it,[..] You take a very mundane task and turn it into a social activity. Collaboration isn't separate from work.

I particularly like this quote because the same thing should be said of Knowledge Management as a whole. KM initiatives are successful in the long term if they enable knowledge sharing processes that cannot be dissociated from operational activities. So, in other words, in such context, if you don’t share knowledge and collaborate intensively, you’re simply not doing your job. However, this requires a corporate culture not only conducive to knowledge sharing, but encouraging it.