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Law #5: Both an inside-out and an outside-in dynamic

Starting and implementing knowledge sharing in an organization must be done from inside, not outside. This means that using outsiders such as consultants to "kick start" or "do it for us" doesn’t work. The successful knowledge sharing programs appear to be driven by insiders. This means that the person charged with starting/implementing knowledge sharing must have credibility among both the line and staff functions, so that when he/she says "here's the direction we're going in", people start moving in that direction.

Similarly, when he/she says "this way, not that" or "that's interesting/useful, let's build on it/share it", then they do, and also "that's interesting, but not useful/not appropriate now, not part of the agreed-upon strategy" that person has the clout to stop those "red herrings" (well, almost stop them).

It is vital that the changes be made from inside the organization, not grafted on from the outside (or by outsiders). The insiders must "own" the process, be involved in all aspects of it, make the changes happen, encourage others to make the changes and to get involved, tell the stories. Only they can do that legitimately, and with organizational (or internal political) savvy.

That said, the inside person must also use the outside world to validate and "push" the agenda forward within the organization. For example, using the external recognition and knowledge fairs and expos as ways of showing that what is happening internally is valid, good, useful, appropriate, adds value, correct etc. This legitimizes the activities, which consequently makes it "all right" for others to jump on board..

Co-authors: Michel Pommier, Lesley Shneier, Stephen Denning

Reference: See Stephen Denning, The Springboard: How Storytelling Ignites Action in Knowledge-Era Organizations. Boston, London, Butterworth Heinemann, October 2000.

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