Sir Francis Bacon was wrong when he said, “Knowledge is power”. Sharing knowledge is where the true power lies.
That was one of the key messages from a new workshop called the Internal Knowledge Provider.
In one of the first of its kind, this workshop enabled a group of entrepreneurs and managers from micro and small medium sized enterprises to explore the concept of becoming a ‘knowledge provider’. This workshop was funded as part of the BizLearn.Net project involving nine partners from different countries throughout Europe.
I believe that for businesses to grow these days, entrepreneurs, managers and team members need to be able to rapidly access knowledge and to share it with others. Sharing and exploiting tacit knowledge and experience is the one of the keys to developing and exploiting competitive advantage and improved performance.
Knowledge exchange, or peer-to-peer learning, is a powerful way to share, replicate, and scale up what works in development. It is an effective for learning and improving performance by sharing and exchanging ideas and information and benefiting from the practical experience of others who have gone through, or are going through, similar problems.
Being an effective knowledge provider goes beyond the traditional notion of training and ‘keeping your cards close to your chest’ – it involves networking, making connections with people, being curious, openly sharing information with others who in turn share their insights, wisdom and experiences with you.
The current trends in the use of social media tools, open source product development and collaborative working is all about sharing knowledge, expertise and experience to create new opportunities and possibilities. Whether it is called knowledge sharing, open innovation, crowd-sourcing or co-creation, successful businesses are learning that they must embrace this paradigm shift of sharing knowledge, ideas and expertise to create win:win scenarios in order to keep up with and stay ahead of the competition. Businesses that fail to embrace this concept are likely to find themselves to be in big trouble in the coming years.
Knowledge sharing and being a so-called ‘knowledge provider’ is not just the preserve of large corporations engaged in open innovation and strategic collaborations – it is for any size enterprise. In fact, knowledge sharing is arguably even more important for the smaller enterprise as it provides a strategy for accessing otherwise unattainable expertise and resources.
Two of the premises of the BizLearn.Net include is reciprocity and the development of an open platform where entrepreneurs can collaborate, share and work together. Reciprocity is recognising that it is important to give AND to receive which goes against conventional business wisdom that treats knowledge as power. An effective knowledge provider understands that knowledge has a value and can be traded and exchanged.
The longer term aim of the project is to establish an on-line knowledge platform populated by a community of entrepreneurs and managers prepared to share their expertise and experience with others. If this sounds too idealistic, think again – isn’t this the principle behind Wiki! Imagine the value of a platform where an entrepreneur can tap into tens of thousands of like minded entrepreneurs who have been there, done that or experiencing similar problems. Imagine borrowing someone else’s wheel instead of re-inventing it again and again.
One entrepreneur who has really embraced the idea of being a ‘knowledge provider’ is Joanna.
I went on a Bizlearn.Net visit to Portugal and found the event inspirational and so helpful. To get my business off the ground I have tapped into a variety of social media platforms and forums and can honestly say people are so generous and helpful – so much so I now share my own knowledge and expertise with others. The amount of referral business I have received is amazing and the time and money people have saved me is huge.
Joanna, Young Ambitions
Joanna now manages two web based businesses; one to support young people to make the most of their lives by ‘living on purpose’ (www.youngambitions.com) and a design business – www.heythereblogger.com.
So Sir Francis Bacon’s message should now go something like this:
“The power of knowledge is a resource to be invested in and then shared with others”
If you are interested in learning more about becoming a knowledge provider and the tools that you need to get you started, watch out for the new Guide to Becoming a Knowledge Provider – be among the first to get a copy by pre-registering your interest.