As we have stepped away from a central-plan based economy for a decentralised knowledge-based economy, so are the sifts made by organisations and their work cultures. In today’s organisations, creative disruption, adaptability and agility more crucial for innovation driven growth over mere bureaucratic discipline and rigid roles.
Knowledge management for long seems to have constituted core of an organisation’s operation and success, but in the advanced knowledge era we seem to be heading towards, knowledge management is short of to assure organisations’ competence, creating new knowledge which can lead to innovation is necessary, and this phenomenon of knowledge creation ideally stems from knowledge workers from diverse disciplines, experiences, perspectives, motives and world views share their tacit knowledge with each other.
What is Tacit Knowledge?
Knowledge as a whole is hard to define, but is a complex constitute of explicit and tacit knowledge. “Knowledge Creation” can utmost be defined as a “continuous process of learning and un-learning by acquiring new contexts, patterns and world views overcoming previous limits of knowledge imposed by existing information parameters.”
Knowledge from being several workers tacit knowledge mesomorphs to organisation’s new knowledge trough a virtuous cyclical process, to begin with workers have tacit knowledge gained from their work, experiences and encounters, which is then exchanged while socialising with other workers, and this ‘tacit knowledge’ is Externalised, i.e. tacit knowledge is shared trough articulation, self-reflection or observation, and this knowledge is then codified as explicit knowledge, and hence this virtuous cycle of knowledge creation is an unending continuous process, as defined above.
Knowledge sharing is the fundamental part of converting individual tacit knowledge into organisation’s new knowledge, further leading to innovation and organisational competence, and enabling knowledge sharing is not an easy process.
The sharing of tacit knowledge in any organisation is heavily barrier ridden, from individual cultural differences to organisation’s lack of knowledge sharing culture, and lack of intrinsic and extrinsic motivators, and often inadequate realisation of intrinsic motivations in an organisation too.
Knowledge beholden by an individual is of a great deal for any knowledge worker, it keeps him an edge ahead against peers, hence knowledge of strategic importance is not easily shared with other workers to be translated to form organisational knowledge which any gains.
Knowledge sharing which holds to be basis of the knowledge creation and innovation, to happen is subject to workers motivation to share knowledge.
Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation for Knowledge Sharing
There are intrinsic and extrinsic motivates that nudges knowledge worker to share, Extrinsic motivates may well promote sharing of explicit knowledge, but is proven to be less useful in case of sharing tacit knowledge, because of complex dynamic nature of tacit knowledge which is emergent and spontaneous, only organic socialisation of knowledge leaders can lead to such exchange.
Also, studies show knowledge workers are not motivated by mere extrinsic motivators such as financial incentives and promotions like workers of pre-knowledge and industrial era were motivated, knowledge workers look for intrinsic motives, such as social recognition, self-actualisation, knowledge and intellect seeking and continuous learning, which in long-run channelise more extrinsic benefits too.
Professional growth and career promotion for knowledge workers is not imminent and short-sighted as it was for previous industrial era workers, knowledge workers have to keep constantly self-learning and often un-learning, expose themselves to unique experiences and situations, and learn from them, which gives them an edge by creating newer knowledge.
Virtuous Cycle of Knowledge Creation
When knowledge workers enter the virtuous cycle of knowledge creation, as they socialise and synergise with other workers, they further the rate of knowledge creation exponentially. This knowledge creation at individual level is proven to help individuals’ ability in defining a problem or situation based on a holistic understanding.
Knowledge, explicit and tacit knowledge is of great importance to knowledge holder, but the virtuous cycle of new knowledge creation and innovation is such that, while workers share knowledge mutually, they are not only given knowledge in return from other workers, but it is also perceived from different perspective and contexts which leads to more churn and more knowledge creation.
Intrinsic motivators give workers a deeper sense of satisfaction, where work, knowledge and creativity are valued for the sake of its own, hence motivates workers in sharing of tacit knowledge and further creating newer tacit knowledge, where extrinsic motivates are less effective but are still conditionally necessary.
Over emphasis on extrinsic motivators over intrinsic, and organisation not recognising or unappreciative of workers’ intrinsic motives such as knowledge and intellectual quest is also demotivates and inhibits worker from sharing knowledge, thus falling back on knowledge creation and innovation in an organisation.
Organisations and workers also have to see intrinsic motivation much wider, there is hedonic side of intrinsic motivation derived from pleasuring from sheer competence enhancing, knowledge questing, social networking and socialising, when individuals with such tendencies, who are often highly innovative, creative and intellectual
Knowledge sharing and knowledge creation ends up as mere phantom, unless an enabler and mode exists, the role of ICT is knowledge sharing and knowledge communication is that of an enabler, ability to use technology not necessarily motivate workers to share knowledge but inability or lack of access to knowledge sharing technology demotivates workers and hinder knowledge sharing and knowledge creation in an organisation, hence making it less innovative and in turn less competitive.
Learn more at BHyve which can help you create a culture of Knowledge Sharing within your organisation.
Book a consultation with an Organisational Psychologist today @ www.BHyve.io.
Guest Writer : Abhishek Patil