I discovered a new rule for knowledge sharing, the 70:20:10 rule. In any given company 10% of the employees is willing to actively share their knowledge. About 20% of the employees is willing to share knowledge if they are invited, and 70% will not share knowledge at all, they are just consumers.
I found these figures in working with our corporate clients who use Easygenerator as a way to facilitate knowledge sharing between their subject matter experts. So these numbers are not scientifically proved, but they are something to consider when you are investigating or implementing any knowledge sharing project.
70:20:10; The willing
The 10 percent or anyway a mall percentage of your co-workers is willing to share their knowledge. If you facilitate them by offering them the right tools they will dive in. This is the group you have to find and target for any knowledge sharing initiative. They are not only your early adopters; they are your core ‘audience.’
70:20:10; The able
The second group is larger than the first. This is a more passive group than the first. You need to activate them to get a contribution from them. When someone else shares his knowledge, they will respond with feedback and comments. When they are asked to participate in a concrete project (for example as co-author), they will. This is the group that is a potential source of knowledge sharers. But you need to convince them and make it very concrete.
70:20:10; The lazy
The vast majority will not actively share his knowledge. They are passive, they are interested in consuming the knowledge shared by others, but they will not contribute to it. I call them ‘the lazy’, but you can label that more positive and call them ‘the consumers’
Whenever you get started with knowledge sharing in your company, this is something to consider, for example when you are formulating your goals. But it is also something you can change. The participation of employees in projects like this is very much determined by the corporate culture. If you want to change the participation, you have to change the culture of the company. Here are some suggestions:
When you ask people to share their knowledge, it will cost them some time. The least you should do is not punish them for participating. For example by not counting these hours as productive hours. You should include knowledge sharing in your reward system. As with productivity goals, you need knowledge sharing goals. Reaching these goals will determine a part of your salary raise. You can make these goals very concrete. For example number of items shared or the number of times that colleagues read your contribution.
Lead by example
The senior management should support the process. It can be as simple as the CEO of the company which stresses the importance of knowledge sharing in a new years speech. But what you really want is that the senior management participates in the process and actively share their knowledge.