Barriers of knowledge sharing in a KM program

There are number of reasons why people in an organization don't share their knowledge. Some of the reasons have deep rooted to the organizational culture and some are embedded in individual believe and perceptions. A right environment created by organization with a strong commitment of all members to sharing of knowledge is the key to success of any KM program. But we know there are many road blocks in sharing of knowledge so let us try to identify them.

Fish does not know much about water:

Many don't understand the importance of their own knowledge. 'I have noting to share' and 'what I know is a common knowledge only' are the statements we will get from many intelligent and experienced people. In organization level also the same feeling remains that their knowledge base has noting special in it. These organizations do not know what they know. This is known as unconscious knowledge But they are the people who strongly participate in a discussion or in a community of practice meetings.

I will be in trouble if I share:

Knowledge is power so why should I share my knowledge which I earned spending my time and effort? This is what stops many from sharing their knowledge. Old knowledge or old belief needs recharging and they should come forward to get others opinion about their knowledge. With frequent interaction and exchange of ideas new knowledge gets created. Here organization must create an environment where knowledge sharing is encouraged. In a culture of fear / apprehension of loosing jobs or position by sharing will not help in creating new knowledge for an organization. Knowledge is fluid and it grows when it transcend ones boundary. Organizational knowledge also gains when it reaches to its customers, suppliers or stakeholders. Their knowledge helps in improving or developing new product and services. So by hording the knowledge neither individual nor the organization gains any business value.

Trust the key to sharing:

Trust among the employees plays an important role in creating sharing culture. No one will share their problems or discuss any new idea when they don't have trust on others. Socialization, networking, get together are the tools by which we can bring people together and a trust can be developed. Working together, sharing a common problem, discussing improvements are the key to develop trust among each other.

Organization Policy and culture

Some organization policy like rewarding individual employee rather than teamdoes not encourage knowledge sharing. This is explained in the article 'Create colleagues, not Competitors' written by Marshall W. Van (September 05 HBR ). The study says people rewarded for individual performance shared information least; the people rewarded for team performance shared more; the people rewarded for company performance shared most.

Pear to pear competition is one more reason where knowledge sharing is not encouraged. Organization has to create a conducive atmosphere for free sharing and reward or recognize all knowledge sharing efforts.

I don't want to be on Focus

Some time people don't want to come to the lime light by sharing their knowledge. Fear of extra responsibility, failures just prevents them from coming forward.

Other barriers of knowledge sharing

Internal conflicts, group politics , language problem, absence of platform .. and some more . Please use the forum to post your views.

This is gr8
Can u explain how exactly the absence of platform prevent the sharing of knowledge
A platform facilitates knowledge sharing. For example it is like playing football without a play ground. We may go for one or two kicks here and there in an empty street. While walking to office two workers may discuss about some customer complaints and how to solve it but that does happens occasionally. A structured platform and environment provide better opportunity for sharing knowledge.
D. Sturm03-05-2013
Great article!
Jiju Oommen06-11-2014
Thnaks for sharing!!
There is a saying 'The elephant knows nothing about its body size'.

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