Knowledge Hiding – Organizational “Prison Rules”

Three children playing hide and seek in a forest.

I read an interesting and recently released study the other day which talks about a relatively new term in the Knowledge Management game – “Knowledge Hiding.” I think though that the concept isn’t necessarily new, and it has similarities to another KM “boogie-man” — the knowledge “hoarder.” But it is in this new study that a label is applied to specific bad behavior that I’d say could be easily described as “Prison Rules” as applied to knowledge sharing.

“Prison Rules” is one of those “urban slang” terms – referring to those situations when someone will do something (driving, sports, holiday shopping, etc.) while cheating, being overly aggressive or intimidating, and otherwise trying to “win” at all costs.

And it seems to me that knowledge hiding then is all about prison rules as they would apply to organizational knowledge sharing.

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Taming the Wild West: KM and Innovation

Samuel Colt (19th century engraving).

The first settlers coming to the Western United States carried guns that were capable of firing only a single-shot per minute without reloading. This put them at a distinct disadvantage to those who using bow and arrows were capable of firing as many as 5-10 arrows per minute.

In 1836 that changed with the introduction of the Colt Paterson which could fire five shots from a rotating cylinder without reloading. Others had previously experimented with revolvers but Colt’s was the first design that would upon cocking automatically rotate a cylinder with multiple chambers so as to place a round in proper position aligned with a single stationary barrel. And that changed everything.

“How” that happened is all about the role that new knowledge plays in innovation.

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Ants?…KM! Ants?…KM! KM?…Yes, KM!

Meat eating ant feeding on honey.

Ants when scouting for new nesting sites or food sources have no leader giving orders. Instead as they travel they leave a trail of scent for other ants, called “scouts”, to follow. Scouts that find a good nesting site or food source in turn leave more scent along the same trail. Eventually, one site is selected from many potential sites in a sort of “chemical democracy” based on the strongest combined chemical strength left by more and more scouts. This organizing process is both simple and powerful. And so without any need for bosses they efficiently find new places to live and new food sources.

So what do ants have to do with Knowledge Management? Glad you asked!

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Socialization and the Need to Take Time to Think

The Thinker, sculpture at the Musée Rodin in Paris

On May 2nd, Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry was speaking at a KM conference and told the audience that he felt that managers needed to “engage” their people. He offered up an example of failing to engage by describing managers who were walking around or riding elevators while using their smart phones instead of talking with their employees. He described that as a missed opportunity to show employees that they cared and that they actually wanted employees to speak up and share their views.

While saying that I agree completely with what John Berry said and agree that this is certainly one of those cultural issues that impact organizations all the time, I’d like to take his thought a step or two further. Sort of run with it to discuss what I think is an additional issue altogether. I’m talking about the need to take time to think.

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You know it’s bad when Jim Cantore is in your town….

Jim Cantore, The Weather Channel

So says a wall post on Jim Cantore’s Facebook page.  Makes sense to me as I can recall him showing up here in Virginia Beach a few times when we’ve had hurricane warnings and such.  Nothing like having your town show up on a Weather Channel featured story to let you know that you’re really having fun.

And so what does Jim Cantore have to do with KM you ask?  Good question!  Actually it’s all about what Jim Cantore has learned about people and severe weather and how that applies to knowledge management.

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Story Telling, Anecdotes and Conversations

The Boyhood of Raleigh by Sir John Everett Millais, oil on canvas, 1870. A seafarer tells the young Sir Walter Raleigh and his brother the story of what happened out at sea.

On my mind this morning are a couple of blog posts that seem to fit nicely together. Interesting reads, and there is even a test at the end! I’d encourage you to take a look at both of these, and then, if you’re feeling brave – take on the really nifty storytelling “test” that the folks at Anecdote have put together. (I’m pleased to say that I scored a 10 for 10!).

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Knowledge Management and Tornadoes

A tornado near Anadarko, Oklahoma.

I’ll say it again: Knowledge Management is about people and their knowledge, and not about software or other IT.

A topical example of how important the knowledge that is held by people really is can be seen in the investigations now starting in the aftermath of the recent outbreak of killer tornadoes that ravaged Alabama and other states.

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Are You NIH? Or Perhaps IHBLRIA? Well,You Should be PFE or Maybe PFEAAWP!

Going in Circles, or Taking the "Road Ahead?"

I stumbled upon a blog post by Richard Stuebi the other day (“On Innovation”)  in which he discussed a meeting that he’d recently attended on the topic of innovation.  During that meeting Dr. Chris Thoen from P&G spoke of an interesting twist that P&G has applied to the NIH problem.

The “what” problem, you ask?

That would be the “Not Invented Here” (NIH) syndrome.

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KM a Fad? KM a Failure? News at 11PM!

So much for "fad" labels!

KM a Fad?  KM a Failure?  Well no, not even. But it’s going to take a little bit of “thread pulling” to fully explore this one. And it makes for an interesting topic of discussion today that goes rather neatly with another post of mine — Not Dead Yet (think Monty Python).

So buckle up, it’s going to get a bit bumpy.

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Snooping Bosses? Get Real.

And the corporate award for “Still Doesn’t Get It” (SDGI) goes to….maybe your organization? (self-nominations accepted and encouraged, applications in multiple categories are allowed)

An interesting article titled, “Snooping Bosses” in Time magazine discussed how it is every increasingly likely that your boss, anyone’s boss, was checking your email, and monitoring your web searching and voice mail. For example, according to a study conducted by American Management Association and ePolicy Institute found that:

76% of employers watch you surf the web and 36% track content” and “38% hire staff to sift through your email.

Wait, before you comment, there’s more! They also suggested that those bosses then “act on that knowledge.”

Now I don’t know about you, but frankly I am amazed. No wait, I’m stunned. Amazed doesn’t do it justice, but stunned fits rather nicely. Read More of Snooping Bosses? Get Real.