There’s two types of people in the world – those who share their knowledge, and those who don’t. Which one would you rather have working for you?
Let’s look at two fictional characters.
Bob is a hotshot financial guru. He has decades of experience in the field and has been working for the same company for 18 years. He has a team of people working for him, many of whom are juniors he is to mentor. He’s still young and has many years to go before he retires. Bob’s monthly reports are always accurate and spot on, Exco trust his reports. However, Bob doesn’t share. He never tells anyone how he compiles these reports, he never sufficiently answers his juniors questions. He only volunteers just enough information to answer the question. The Knowledge Managers have come to Bob on various occasions asking to interview him, but he just declines them. People have become too scared to ask Bob anything because he makes them feel inferior and like they’re doing him a huge favour. He is very good at what he does, but never shares that expertise, so no-one in his team or company can learn it. He’s scared that if he tells people, they will be able to do his job and he will become redundant. He’s very grumpy around report time because he has to do the whole thing himself. No-one else knows how.
Betty is also a financial specialist, but she’s nowhere near the level of Bob. Betty works in another division as part of a team and been in the company only 4 years. Betty is super passionate about finances and decides to find a way to make this traditionally boring subject exciting for her colleagues. She wants to become a guru like Bob but can’t get any information from him. So Betty decides to take matters into her own hands and learn on her own. She spends a lot of time doing research and reading all the international financial gurus’ books. She starts a blog to share the info she’s learnt in easy to understand language so that her team members can benefit from it. She also decides to start a tips and tricks newsletter which she puts on their team site, subscribes her team, and adds a new tip every week. Betty started a Facebook page too to help people learn the world of finances in easy steps and share their experiences. She thinks that by sharing her knowledge with her team, the whole team will get stronger.
The team really like this and mention it to their friends around the water cooler. A couple of people from other divisions decide to email Betty to ask her questions they were afraid to ask, and she replied with courtesy and friendliness, answered their questions and referred them to sites they could get more information. Word got out fast. Before Betty realised what had happened, everyone in the company was coming to her for financial advice. Any time someone brought up the subject of finances, Betty’s name followed. Within a year she was seen as the company financial guru and she was asked to compile her own reports to submit to Exco. She became the Suze Orman of her company. Her whole team became specialists and their department was the most efficient in the business. She was flown to each region to help them get their financial departments into the same shape. Betty continued to set the standard in sharing her knowledge in her team and they went from strength to strength.
So if you were new to the company and you needed help, who would you go to? Bob or Betty? If you were hiring a financial guru, and you Googled Bob and Betty, who would you hire?
Everyone has knowledge, everyone. It’s not the knowledge that makes you the specialist or the expert – it’s how much you SHARE that knowledge that does.
Think about your legacy. If you die tomorrow, what will you have left behind? Bob will have 20 years of financial expertise that will simply die with him. Betty will have 4 years of expertise that everyone will be able to access and learn from until the end of all our days.
Think about your personal brand. Everybody has one, whether you’re conscious of it or not. People instantly categorize you when they meet you and get to know you. Are you an empire builder or a community builder?
If you told everyone you meet, every single bit of knowledge you know – you will still know it. It doesn’t leave your brain, you still have it. But you are empowering the people around you by sharing. Only about 1% of people will actually decide to do anything about the knowledge. 1%!
No-one is trying to steal your job, they are just trying to be the best in their own jobs. If you want to be a superstar in whatever you do, regardless of how old you are, how long you’ve been in the company, or how long you’ve known a subject, (you can learn anything at any time) – SHARE. And you will stand out head and shoulders above everyone else. The sky is the limit and there is more than enough sunshine for everybody.
Read some tips on how to become an expert.
It’s not how many followers you have, it’s how many leaders you create.
Lol Amar!! Uh, yes – never share your bank pin code. ;-))
Now I have learned why I should share knowledge but I will keep one thing in mind that never share your bank pin number except banker. one thing more sharing knowledge also inspires lfe.
Great summary Jay!
Great article. You nailed it by saying ” It’s not how many followers you have, it’s how many leaders you create”
If people with knowledge have this notion that they are creating future experts and driving innovation and growth, they will not hesitate to share their own personal experiences. From your blog, I see that you are talking of explicit knowledge through collaboration tools like Sharepoint which is the proverbial “tip of the iceberg” of organization knowledge. Over 90% of knowledge resides within individuals as “tacit” and not easy to convert to shareable form. The power of social networking thro web 2.0 tools, COP are all aiming at capturing this tacit knowledge.
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@ Christophe, that’s not what I was trying to say at all. You’ve missed the point of the post altogether. I’m not saying it’s about popularity, it’s merely an illustration that sharing works better. it was in no way mean or form aimed at any MVP, that was the furtherest thing from my mind.
I would certainly not go to Bob unless I have no other choice. Which in the Web era means never.
As for Betty…I don’t know. Replacing authority by obscurity with authority by popularity is just going from one extreme to another. I have seen too many articles in the SharePoint community where people were quick to share what they thought they knew, but were actually driving their readers in the wrong direction.
Really, what I want is Marc the humble expert. Knowledgeable, always ready to share, but also aware of his limits and who never misses an opportunity to ask around to validate his assumptions.
Of course, any similarity between existing MVP names and the name used in this comment is pure coincidence…
agree that sharing knowledge is important, BUT;
in the world of consulting there is necessity to keep close tabs on knowledge that has value (in intellectual property for instance) and finding this balance and distinction is sometimes tricky.
it’s a tough balance!
Thanks guys, it’s something that’s been on my mind a while now. You both have very good points.
Brilliant post V. In this day and age you cannot get by by hoarding your knowledge, and that sharing is the way forward. If people didn’t share their know-how, then you probably wouldn’t have gotten the knowledge in the first place 🙂
Good write up, it makes a lot of sense to share knowledge. If one is worried about losing their job to sharing the knowledge of that position than anyone can do it and you are not pushing yourself forward but just staying still and watching the world go by.
Where would we be today if Einstein and Da Vinci didn’t keep notebooks ….