Trust and Knowledge Management

When knowledge is considered power, and hence, hoarding of knowledge is something which is very important to a lot of people (rightly or wrongly, thats a different issue!), a large challenge for KM practitioners is that people may be willing to share. There has been a lot written about the subject.

To add my two bits to the debate, the fact remains that its not necessarily that people dont want to share, or people dont want to help. Man is, after all, a social animal (no, I am using the term to be gender neutral, and will continue to do so), and hence, craves acceptance in a society in which he needs to live and operate. And, helping others is something which is very important to gaining this acceptance. Helping and cooperation has been a part of human society since the ays when ancient man was the hunter-gatherer. But, one major element of this cooperation is trust. Luis Suarez had written about this some time back.

The question now boils down to how to develop this trust. Lets face it … We are evolving, but having said that, we havent yet evolved to Man 2.0, unlike the Web, or the Enterprise, of even the Knowledge Worker (each of which have version 2.0 out in the market, and being treated as the next best thing in the world of business). And, this implies that a lot of the old fashioned ways of generating trust still hold good. And, the most important way … meeting someone face to face. I, for one, still feel that there is adegree of comfort, and hence, trust, which is generated once I meet someone face to face. I think its about getting to know the person, to discover the personality of the person … Not sure I can define this completely, and not sure whether I am qualified to do that either. Let me post this question on LinkedIn (more about LinkedIn, and some of my favourite features later).

Now, the question is, how can this be achieved in virtual teams, and in teams which are geographically dispersed, as most teams today tend to be, with organizations being more and more fashioned around business functions rather than geography, supported by the rise of the Net. And, this is where social computing, and related technologies come into the picture (read mobile phones, actually …). I am not talking anything fancy here. More like webcams (get to see the person you are interacting with, their body postures, their non-verbal cues), and virtual worlds where you could work, and collaborate in an informal manner (a la secondlife).


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