Dave Pollard has written about the psychology of information, or why we don’t share stuff, the organisational and human factors that impede knowledge-sharing:
- Bad news rarely travels upwards in organizations
- People share information generously peer-to-peer, but begrudgingly upwards, and sparingly downwards in organizational hierarchies.
- People find it easier and more satisfying to reinvent the wheel.
- People only accept and internalize information that fits with their mental models and frames.
- People cannot readily differentiate useful information from useless information.
- The true cost of acquiring information and the cost of not knowing are both greatly underestimated in most organizations.
- People know more than they can tell, and tell more than they can write down.
- People can internalize information presented graphically more easily and fully than information presented as text, and understand information conveyed through stories better than information presented analytically.
- Most people want their friends, and even people they don’t know, to succeed, and people they dislike to fail and this has a bearing on their information-sharing behaviour.
- People are averse to sharing information orally, and even more averse to sharing it in written form, if they perceive any risk of it being misused or misinterpreted.
- People are generally reluctant to admit they don’t know, or don’t understand, something.
- People don’t take care of shared information resources.
- In some organizations, internal competition mitigates against open sharing of information.
- Some modest people underestimate the value of what they know.
- We all learn differently.
- Rewards for sharing knowledge don’t work.
The point, of course, being that it’s almost nothing to do with the technology.
At almost the same time, David Weinberger has published an article in KM World about the impact of the social software tools that Euan has managed to sneak in “under the radar”… where again the emphasis has been on using the lightest-possible technology to support conversations.