Some people aren’t natural sharers…..of information that is. And in the business world this lack of sharing of information and knowledge can have a profound effect.
People often don’t share for nothing other than they just don’t think about it, or see the point in it. It’s not usually them being malicious. It’s not for personal gain. It’s not for trading. It’s simply because most people don’t realise the value of sharing. They aren’t natural sharers.
Sharing is good. Sharing should be embraced. Sharing should be taught (it’s a combination of basic communication skills and networking (both covered in my communication skills course btw)).
Sharing avoids silos and information black holes. It prevents information being gathered by people but never intelligently put to good use.
Sharing needs to be timely. And accurate. There is little point sharing time sensitive information too early or too late. It takes practice to get this right. Sharing is a skill. People need to act on information and insights otherwise why bother sharing?
Sharing needs to be useful. As above – what is the point in sharing useless and pointless information? Maybe entertainment is a solid enough purpose – maybe not.
Sharing doesn’t need processes and strict formulas and neatness or tidyness. It doesn’t need hierarchies or rules or regulations. It just needs to happen. Show me a company with strict communication policies and I will show you a company where communication likely doesn’t flow where it should. It should be noted that the opposite is also true – no guidelines or suggestions also leads to poor communication.
Sharing does need owners and accountability. It needs someone to give feedback when over sharing occurs or people get offended. It needs someone to encourage others to share. It needs someone to lead by example. Maybe what you need is a Chief Sharing and Learning Officer.
Sharing also doesn’t need information management systems. There is no system in the world that will encode and capture everything in people’s heads. No system at all. Information management systems are useful and very helpful (I myself am a big fan), but they should be used in conjunction with serendipity, watercooler conversations, team meetings, shared social events, the grapevine, networking events, all hands meetings and a host of other person to person opportunities – this is where the real sharing happens. This requires a strong culture and a friendly place to work – it requires support and leading by example from execs. It requires sharing to be “allowed”. Information systems give you the illusion that everything is in the “system” and that it is complete. It isn’t.
Information rarely flows in smooth ways. Work rarely adheres to functional boundaries you’ve created. People sometimes miss out information when they communicate. People sometimes hear and agree on the same information but do different things with it. People don’t always naturally share information.
But over time, with persistence and coaching and training it is possible to get people sharing, talking and chatting. And when this happens those potential sales leads, those previously unknown feature requirements, those customer insights, those marketing plans, those budget opportunities, those career progressions and those opportunities to add value will emerge.
The next step is then capitalising on these and adding that value. But without sharing you’d likely never have stumbled across them in the first place.