“Sapiens can cooperate in extremely flexible ways with countless numbers of strangers. That's why Sapiens rule the world, whereas ants eat our leftovers and chimps are locked up in zoos and research laboratories.”
Cooperation in extremely flexible ways is exactly what I want to talk about today. But not because this is at the heart of why “Sapiens rule the world.” What I want to discuss is how knowledge-centric cooperation is at the heart of innovative and highly successful organizations.
Though first, I want to share with you a bit of the journey I’ve been on for over two decades, and how it brought me to this realization.
Evolutions, revolutions, and revelations
I’ve spent the last 24 years going through a remarkable journey at Amdocs. During these nearly two and half decades, I have seen our industry, my company, and my own career go through evolutions, revolutions, and revelations.
From billing to solution architecture and business consulting, I have had the privilege to engage with the world’s leading telecoms on so many different ground-breaking initiatives. Among the most challenging and exciting have been the large-scale digital transformations, taking service providers from consideration to design, and all the way through delivery.
In my current role, I focus on connecting the telecom’s business requirements to the technologies and solutions that will address its needs and objectives. I am also charged with bringing in all the relevant experts on the Amdocs side, so that the most effective solution with the most value will be delivered.
The key to doing great things
Regardless of the scale, the need, or the technologies involved, one thing has always rung true. The key to bringing amazing outcomes with excellence and efficiency – is cooperation that is driven by the seamless and effective exchange of knowhow and best practices.
Some might call it knowledge sharing. But it’s so much more than that. It’s a mindset and culture. It’s process and practice. It’s continuous and evolving, and frankly – it’s just something no organization, especially one that’s technology-centric, can innovate, prevail, and triumph without.
There can be no doubt that the transfer of insights and information from those who possess it to those who need it is at the very core of success for every organization.
Yet, for any organization that has more than a few employees, and especially for those who have hundreds to thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of employees spread out all over the world, this can be a very formidable task.
The imperative of being in the know
People tend to engage with those who are near to them, whether geographically or professionally. And, of course, in our post-pandemic world, we see less and less of each other. These phenomena make cross-team communications challenging, and cross-organization engagements even more so.
However, we can’t afford not to step up to the challenge. In the fast-paced technology arena, where new developments are continually being introduced, it is imperative to be in the know, constantly. If the pace of change is at the speed of light, we have to be faster.
And the only way to do this is to leverage the experience, expertise, and knowledge of our peers, colleagues, and partners. This is the only way to make sure that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
A story that brings this to life
This principle came to life with an AWS certification process. For this certification, the relevant team members had the opportunity to determine their own learning schedule and go through the program at their own pace.
But instead of just going it alone – we put in place a framework whereby we all would meet virtually once a week. At each meeting one of the team members would prepare a quiz or topics for clarification. People would share what they didn’t understand, or how they overcame certain challenges.
The experience was enlightening, collaborative, and very effective. Everyone who took the exam, passed, and got certified straightaway.
The benefits of sharing knowledge are not only great for those who get new knowledge, but also for the organization that gives them the opportunity to do so.
When your people see that you invest in creating a culture of openness and sharing, they intuitively gravitate towards the sharing mindset. They don’t keep what they know to themselves. So everyone gains from more insights, more information, and expanded knowhow.
I really believe that this level of human cooperation expressed through sharing knowledge is the way to achieve big things.
The 4 principles of powerful knowledge sharing
Over the years, I have found that there are four key principles that help leaders and organizations to foster a culture of knowledge-centric cooperation:
Be diehard. Your dedication to facilitating and ensuring knowledge sharing should be unwavering and unyielding. We need to be fiercely committed to establishing processes and practices that promote such cooperation.
For example, I have established and hold a monthly session, in which people from all over the world participate. Whether it’s about a new product, demo, project, or proposal we’re working on, we share. We bring insights from the challenges we faced, and what we did to overcome them. Increasing awareness and learning about new ways to do things is profoundly valuable for all.
Be a role model. Don’t just talk the talk. You have to walk the walk. I can’t expect my people to invest the time and to summon the inspiration to be proactive in sharing new information or revelations if I don’t do so myself.
This is why whenever I hear about something new and exciting, or have a particularly insightful engagement with a peer or customer, I share the takeaways with everyone. And it’s not just about forwarding emails. There needs to be a method. I put it into my calendar. And I always communicate what I think is the significance of this new insight and what it means for my people.
Don’t be the middleman. Or – don’t just be the pipe. What I mean is that, when you hear from someone that they’re looking for an answer to a dilemma or challenge, don’t just be the matchmaker. Make sure to think about who you’re connecting with whom, give them context, and facilitate their interaction as much as is possible, so that it can be effective and efficient.
If you want people to talk and share ideas, to amplify and accelerate, then culture will trump directives any day of the year. Inspiration is much more effective than mandates.
Be persistent. As with anything that we expect to bring ongoing and long-term results, so too with knowledge sharing. This is something that we need to invest in continuously. It’s not a one and done. We need to have a plan and a schedule, to refresh and bring new ways, all the time.
In conclusion, to innovate and succeed we need to be innovative, not just with technology, or even ideas. Rather, we need to be innovative with the whole framework that fuels and propels innovation. And one of the key drivers of innovation is effective, consistent, and inspired knowledge sharing.