Elon Musk once said that leadership does not depend nowadays on the number of patents companies have, but on the ability to hire talented people who know how to make the most of the knowledge and skills they have. Knowledge and patents themselves should be open source.
Knowledge sharing is the process in which the main role is always played by people. It is about collaborative learning where everyone contribute to drive a real value. By sharing our individual experiences, know-how and skills with others we really learn a lot and gain new perspectives.
Yet creating a proper knowledge sharing organisation is not probably enough to share knowledge. We should do it regularly and in an appropriate way while bearing in mind a particular purpose why we do it. Recently I have heard that at least 60% of employees spend more than an hour doing assignments that have been done before by someone else. We can only imagine what kind of costs these are for organisations.
We spend at work more than one third of our life and it is quite sad that we very often do not care about leaving any legacy behind. And the most beautiful legacy we could leave is in fact our knowledge, the knowledge that other people can take advantage of. Is there anything more rewarding that being aware of the fact that the knowledge we have shared is now being reused by others? Even if we are not anymore at the same place and have changed a job a few times, the knowledge we shared is still there.
But we all have to know that knowledge sharing requires not only all our team engagement, but also delineating a special context. It would not be any exaggeration if I say that at Bright Inventions we organise a kind of knowledge sharing sessions on daily basis. It is our tradition to drink coffee about 10.00 a.m. every day and talk. Everyone can provoke such a conversation. It is enough to suggest a topic. It is really important to create in the organisation opportunities for serendipitous conversations. The more informal form they may take, the more effective they can be.
We have also another tradition called Lunch Roulette, I suppose liked by everyone here. How does it work? We have a special application that every day chooses two people from the team who go for lunch together. That is time when they can talk about projects, problems encountered recently or just about their last weekend. Our daily lunches are not only a great occasion to get to know each other better, but also frequently they are a great opportunity to gain a new perspective on our life. Not long time ago we also used to go on Monday breakfasts together and shared company updates, but since there are more and more people here, Bright Lunches seem to be a better way of spending our time.
Coming back to coffee - apart from coffee breaks we have also Coffee Talks - a bit more organised knowledge sharing sessions. You just have to choose a date and a topic for discussion in advance, send an invitation to your colleagues and that is it - grab your coffee, go to the conference room and steal the show. The topics of our Coffee Talks are really diversified. Sometimes they are connected with something we are working on, technologies we use (or would like to use), obstacles that we have come across or solutions that we have worked. Coffee Talks are often just a headway for longer discussions and they do not have to be fully technology related, as long as there are people that can benefit from them. And believe me or not, there is always something new and useful that each of us finds out.
Knowledge sharing is always about team’s input. Less experienced employees should not be afraid of showing their perspective on the problem. Getting feedback especially for them might be extremely significant. There is nothing worse than the lack of information that prevents you from moving on with a project. That is why creating habits for sharing knowledge should be an indispensable part for successful company management. Yet the responsibility for creating this kind of habits should be taken by the whole team. We should all encourage each other to express our views, ask questions and share our experience.
Because in the end, as The Beatles sang - the love you take is always equal to the love you make. The rule is simple. If we do not share our knowledge, let us not expect that others will.