Knowledge Sharing –Process or Trust?
According to the Institute of Collaborative Working (ICW), ISO 44001 represents a new generation of international standard with a focus on behaviours, organisational culture and management processes providing a common platform to underpin sustainable business relationships and harness the benefits of collaborative working
According to the Institute of Collaborative Working (ICW), ISO 44001 represents a new generation of international standard with a focus on behaviours, organisational culture and management processes providing a common platform to underpin sustainable business relationships and harness the benefits of collaborative working. As the title suggest, it aims to ensure that collaboration is as effective as possible, in a fast-changing world where organisations having to work together is becoming more of a necessity than an option.
From its humble beginnings as a CRAFT methodology (which stands for Collaborative Relationship, Assessment, Fulfilment and Transformation), pioneered by ICW, subsequently evolving into PAS document (11000), then a British Standard, it finally metamorphosised into the (relatively) new ISO kid on the block. It gives a promise of enhanced business performance, reduction in cost, increased competitiveness, improved innovation and better management of business risk, to those organisations that adopt its philosophy and successfully implement it. Clients are realising that they would in turn benefit from a well-integrated and collaborative supply chain and such expectations are now feeding through tender specifications.
One of the key building blocks of the ISO 44001 life cycle model for inter-organisational collaboration is knowledge sharing, and it is one of the significant benefits of collaboration. At the same time though, it also creates a challenge for many organisations to identify what knowledge can and cannot be shared, in order to achieve the objectives of collaboration but to also avoid problems later on. To aspire to a state whereby organisations can confidently share knowledge, each partner should first of all be competent at managing knowledge internally, they ‘must learn to walk before they can run’.
By contrast with operating within the cross-organisational context of ISO 44001, within confines of any one organisation, there should be no trust related blockers, no fears about haemorrhaging valuable knowledge assets to competitors, no organisational or communication barriers. After all, as nowadays knowledge is universally accepted as a valuable non-tangible asset, there is only gain to be had from enhancing, sharing and re-using the organisation’s collective knowledge base, with workers having instant access to knowledge either through repositories of explicit knowledge or knowing who to ask. Doing so creates efficiencies by saving time ‘reinventing the wheel’ and it boosts the corporate competence, with the organisation being able to take on bigger and more complex projects, pre-disposing it to innovate more.
Therefore, surely knowledge sharing just happens naturally even in large multidisciplinary organisations despite the occasional silo structure. Or does it? Rightly or wrongly, the answer is no, as otherwise, Knowledge Management (KM) would not have taken off as it has done, becoming a central and fully-fledged organisational management discipline in the last two decades. ‘Knowing what we know’ and ‘knowing who knows what’ are two mottos which much of the KM theory and models have at its core. KM deals with lessons learnt, therefore lessons learnt from failed attempts of others to implement KM processes and behaviours must be taken into account. KM requires
leadership to help unleash wholehearted engagement of the workforce through a perspective of trust, but also a coherent framework for deployment and implementation. It requires top down and bottom up support in equal measures, in other words, knowledge sharing is about both process and trust.