In the Altimeter Group’s Report on Enterprise Social Networks, four areas of business value were identified:
- Encourage Sharing
- Capture Knowledge
- Enable Action
- Empower People
I would suggest an order of difficulty and business value for these four components.
Capturing knowledge is the foundation, and drives value up the chain, enabling sharing of knowledge and the ability to take action on that knowledge. All three can then drive empowered people (if the organizational structure allows this, and if it doesn’t, consider the resulting frustration).
As Dave Gray wrote in The Connected Company, capturing tacit knowledge is tough:
“The learning challenge for the company comes from the dynamic relationship between the two forms of knowledge. Tacit knowledge is where the action is, and in most cases, it’s the people with the tacit knowledge that deliver the results. But the only way tacit knowledge can be broadly shared is by translating it into explicit knowledge — a very difficult task that very few companies have mastered.”
For the organization: Make it easy to share
For teams and groups: Narrate your Work
For individuals: Practice personal knowledge mastery
For learning & development (training) professionals:
- Be a lurker or a passive participant in relevant work-related communities (could be the lunch room) and LISTEN to what is being said.
- Communicate what you observe to people around you, solicit their feedback and engage in meaningful conversations.
- Continuously collect feedback from the workplace, not just after courses.
- Make it easy to share information by simplifying & synthesizing issues that are important and relevant to fellow workers.