Flattened WorldPosted: July 22, 2008 | |
Sometimes its a nice idea to not read a book too carefully. I recently re-read The World is Flat. As i am sure you would agree, this is quite an interesting book to read.
The last time i read this book, it was on flights, and at airports (the way i used to travel back then, this was the only time i used to get to read), and let me be honest … i didnt read the book carefully. Because of which, over a period of time, i built up my own concept of a flattening world (something which i found out is referred to, though not directly …). And, i use this as a concept to explain the whole idea of knowledge sharing, whenever i am giving a talk about KM.
One of the questions which i am called upon to address most of the talks i give on the subject is the WIIFM of KM. This is a question which is of high relevance to Knowledge Managers … having grown up in a scenario where we were told that “Knowledge is Power”, obviously a large part of the working population are loath to sharing knowledge. If knowledge be power, why should i share the power i have accumulated by years of studies and experience, they ask. Valid question, one would think.
And this is something i counter with the idea of the flattened world. Till a few years ago (decades?), the world was undulating. There were the “knowledge-haves”, and the “knowledge-havenots”. The former were the people who were called managers, who were supposed to know what needs to be done, and why. The latter were the people who were “not to ask why, but to do and die” … figuratively! And, there was a disparity in terms of the knowledge they were supposed to have, and indeed, did have.
And this is where the world is flattening. From a topography of hills and valleys with respect to knowledge distribution, the world is getting flattened out. Today, it is no longer uneven with respect to the knowledge one can have. Instead, google and wikipedia, and a host of blogs and wikis, social networks, are flattening the world into a place where there are no undulating hills and valleys of knowledge distribution. Of course, its quite easy to pepper this discussion with anecdotes, which also illustrate the point more graphically with the audience. As a result, information today is available to anyone with a willingness to know more about it.
Now, using this concept of a knpwledge based flattening of the world within the organization, one can build up a case for the people in the organization to understand that the paradigm of knowledge-hoarding is no longer relevant, and that, sharing is the way to power in the future.