Human behavior flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge – Plato
John Stuart Mill was once described, no doubt erroneously, as someone who knew all the knowledge that it was possible for someone to know in his era. The possibility that there is a finite stock of knowledge is one that tempts us. Even the concept of ‘knowledge as power’ assumes a scarce stock of knowledge to be allocated out for influence.
In an era of rapid change and high levels of connectedness, what matters is not an individual’s stock of knowledge. The value of an individual stock of knowledge is falling as new knowledge is being created fast, search costs are reduced and there is an increasing focus on collaborative knowledge work.
Individuals have greatest impact now through their ability to contribute to the flow of knowledge.
Managing the flow of knowledge in networks takes new and different skills:
- Creators: who add new ideas to the flow of discussions to build knowledge
- Connectors: who know where to source and distribute knowledge in and around organisations
- Context providers: who know how to provide new knowledge with context that adds to its trust, value or meaning
- Community managers: who build enduring communities across boundaries, aid their sharing of knowledge and building of consensus
A pile of publications, patents and Ph.Ds might offer temporary bragging rights. However, real and enduring value of knowledge comes from its application in our everyday fast moving interactions.
Focus on the flow of knowledge in and around your organisation and you will see better the individuals who are accelerating that flow and creating new value.