Motivating and Rewarding Knowledge Sharing

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Facilitated by Scott Bechtler-Levin (notes by Josh Senyak)

Scott's knowledge-sharing project “IdeaEncore” has been acquired by Good Done Great – will become part of GDG’s “knowledge.do” offering.

It’s pretty easy to get people to share their documents – documents are “the gateway drug” for knowledge sharing. The hard thing is to build a “community of practice” around knowledge sharing. How to foster an environment where “my work isn’t done until I’ve shared what I’ve learned” – not only within my community/network, but outside too.

Foundations can insist that the default is to share everything. (But funders can’t always force it. If the grantees aren’t bought in, it’s very easy for them to make a token & unhelpful effort.)

Example of knowledge sharing: Aspiration helps NPOs put together RFPs for websites. They’re finding there’s a limited number of workflows/“user stories” that the websites need to support. Goal is to create a “universal catalog” of user stories and business processes, so NPOs can easily pick & adapt them for their RFPs rather than writing everything from scratch. (The first challenge is just to NAME them! Everyone in supply chain uses the same word with different meanings.)

Why should we share our knowledge?
- Owner keeps intellectual property, gets credit, recognition, credibility
- It’s built into human nature – we’re naturally creative and we like to share
- Meets a psychological need for recognition – the endorphin rush of the “like” button
- Reciprocity: If I share w/ a colleague, my colleague might share with me
- Shared desire to change the world
- At IdeaEncore, creators could actually get money for their content. Small amounts of money were a huge incentive. Even just seeing a large number of downloads was a big incentive.

Why don’t we share our knowledge?
- It takes extra time/work to express the knowledge in a form other people can understand. “The tyranny of time eats my good intentions.”
- Our culture doesn’t always support sharing – we copyright things to protect our knowledge/”property”
- Competition – why give my competitors an edge?

What are the advantages of using shared knowledge?
- I can customize somebody else’s project rather than recreating my own from scratch
- Learn from others’ mistakes
- Make fewer mistakes - lower costs, better efficiency
But note:
- People don’t always know what knowledge to trust – “why should I do what you suggest, maybe it’s no good”
- People are creative – sometimes they just want to do things their own way

Scott: The three barriers to knowledge sharing are time, turf and trust

Useful strategies:
- Curation. Build more relationships into the simple dichotomy of knowledge poster/knowledge
recipient. Everyone who is passionate on a topic becomes a curator. Build communities around the topics, so no one person “owns” a topic.
- Testing. Have users test and/or report back on value of the shared resources.
- Develop some kind of “badge” – people build up their reputation as curators or collaborators in this process. That in turn increases a person or organization’s reputation, fundability.
- Federation with other repositories. Knowledge.do will work with other repositories, make APIs available, let everyone have a piece of it on their own website. (The idea is having “embeddable libraries” – make it easy for anybody to embed a relevant subset of knowledge.do resources right on their own website.)
- Taxonomies: Rather than impose your own taxonomy of information from above – let the creators develop their own living taxonomies, tag their content however they feel most appropriate.