Knowledge is an asset that develops from the intellectual activity of individuals – which can be brought together to form Organisational Knowledge. Knowledge cannot be demanded from an individual in any sense that would ensure a full and total disclosure. Instead organisations must create a culture, supported by leadership and individual behaviours, which encourages the free seeking and sharing of knowledge for the benefit of all.
To realise its full benefit knowledge needs to be shared freely, otherwise it is of limited value, benefiting only its keeper. This Principle highlights the importance of developing ways to share knowledge, to move from a perspective that ‘knowledge is power’ to one where ‘knowledge sharing’ is power.
Knowledge sharing should not be codified or constrained, unless there are over-riding security considerations. Knowledge can be relevant in unlikely or disparate ways and sharing should be maximised where possible, to uncover these hidden linkages.
The value of knowledge is in the amalgamation of an individual’s experience, thought processes, education and training, together with the information to which they are exposed. Only the individual knows the full extent of that knowledge and the reasoning behind any conclusions they draw from it, and therefore non-freely-given knowledge can never generate the confidence or assurance that it is either accurate or complete.
Implications for Knowledge Management Strategy
- Knowledge management is a combination of soft skills and effective resource management
- Leaders do not try to pressurise individuals into disclosing knowledge
- Leaders should foster a culture where knowledge sharing is viewed as empowering
Shared knowledge needs to be credible. Encouraging rather than demanding knowledge-sharing is likely to elicit more credible, reliable output.
Knowledge differs from person to person. Sharing knowledge widely allows for quality checking and for understanding to be tested and, where necessary, clarified.