So lets suppose you have a sales team and you want to pull knowledge from them. To begin, youd set up an internal secure sales force knowledge base that all the salespeople have access to. This is called creating a community of practice, meaning that all the people who have a common profession come here to share knowledge. You can also create a community of practice for your HR team, your accountants, your engineers, etc. Communities of practice can be for virtually any group of people you have in your organization.
Then, you ask the community of practice for two short paragraphs each month. Why only two paragraphs? You dont want to take a lot of their time. Additionally, the paragraphs youll get will be so powerful that youll have a lot of knowledge to learn from and act on. If you have 100 people on your sales team, youre getting 100 knowledge entries a month thats a lot of knowledge!
To encourage participation, give examples from the companys executive team, showing the CEOs, CFOs, and other C-suite executives biggest mistakes and what they learned from them. After all, if the company leaders wont share, why should anyone else? But if the top executives are sharing, then everyone else will feel compelled to share as well. The executives participation makes the process both safe and powerful.
If each of the 100 salespeople posts their biggest mistake and what they learned from it, you now have 100 bits of knowledge and powerful lessons that you can categorize. Then, the next month, you ask two more questions:
Keep doing this two-question approach every month and your company will quickly have a wealth of actionable knowledge that can be used to rapidly solve problems and spread innovation.
Does anyone lose any of their knowledge by sharing it? No. Does the entire organization gain exponentially through the knowledge exchange? Yes! And if people leave, due to retirement or other reasons, at least youve captured some of their best knowledge instead of letting it all walk out the door. When someone new comes on board, you simply have him or her access the appropriate community of practice knowledge base network and start reading and contributing.
Even better, you can pull knowledge externally as well as internally. For example, you as the CIO can be in a community of practice with other CIOs in companies similar to yours. The same concept would work for your CEO, CFO, etc. Even though everyone in the external community of practice would be working for competing companies, the reality is that the power of knowledge sharing is more powerful than competition. In fact, when competitors start sharing knowledge, they stimulate each other and get better ideas that each can go back and apply.
Remember, you can create new knowledge by sharing existing knowledge. And just gaining the knowledge isnt enough; you then have to apply it. How you apply knowledge versus how your competitors apply knowledge will likely be very different and thats a good thing. Thats how an industry evolves and how innovation occurs. You want to make sure youre on the leading edge of that evolution and innovation. Sharing knowledge is the best way to do that.
Wisdom Pull - Once you get your knowledge network growing, you can take it a step further by tapping into your companys wisdom and creating a wisdom base.
What is wisdom versus knowledge? Wisdom is a guiding principle that can usually be expressed in one sentence and that tends to be timeless and cultureless. For example, the saying Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, has been around for a long time. Its one powerful sentence that many people use as a guiding principle. If youve ever read a quote that resonated with you, it was likely a one-sentence message that helped guide your thinking.
You can tap into the wisdom your team holds by creating a wisdom base where everyone shares their personal quotes. The process is simple: Tell the different communities of practice that you want to start collecting and sharing their guiding principles. Make it easy. Ask for only one principle stated in only one sentence a month. If someone cant articulate their wisdom yet, thats okay. Allow them to post a quote that contains a guiding principle from someone else for now.