Attachment employment

Mike Gotta makes an interesting find in One Reason Why Knowledge Management Fails.  Specifically, I was pleased to see the link between asking employees to volunteer information.  If employee morale is low, the quality of that volunteered information is likely to be quite low. 

Imagine a company that is trying to "pick the brains" of its front-line workers to gain insight on how to improve quality controls, customer service, warehouse inefficiencies, and so forth. This type of tacit observation is difficult to duplicate. The insights of "floor" workers can prove invaluable when trying to identify and correlate patterns that are not well-documented by process measures. Such insight from employees cannot be conscripted - it can only be volunteered when people feel some sense of attachment, belonging, motivation, passion, loyalty, duty, etc. (just pick your favorite relationship or other people-influencing factors).

... Organizations that reduce benefits, treat retirees badly, mishandle layoffs or have the appearance of eliminating workers with seniority or that are older are sending a clear message to remaining workers that will significantly damage any knowledge management effort, perhaps permanently.

This might seem completely obvious, but think about how many organizations ask their people to share knowledge and lessons learned or do something for the good of the organization.  But then on the other side, there is nothing for the employees (collectively or individually) to make it feel like they are attached to the organization.

If you are starting a KM initiative that has anything to do with knowledge sharing, but you don't think about the level of trust required for high-quality knowledge sharing, then the initiative is going to have trouble.

Knowledge cannot be conscripted.  People always know more than they can say.  And they can always say more than they can write down [to paraphrase David Snowden's continuation of someone else's thoughts].

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