Something which we are all aware of these days is the state some countries have ended up in thanks to the economic crisis affecting Western Europe and America. Constraints on the availability of money has resulted in recession, stagnation and an overall malaise.
I believe the same analogy can be drawn in many organizations these days when considering how it deals with collaboration, knowledge management and generally being a better organization.
Information is captured and hoarded in email folders, intranets, paper copies and a multitude of other silos. If we recognize that money makes the world go round, so information makes your organization work. Putting information into the equivalent of a savings account – your corporate intranet or you email archive is the equivalent of putting your money into a bank account which pays low interest.
You are better making the money work for you, say by reducing debt or investing it, than in hoarding it in a bank account which gains little interest. By making the information you have work for you, your intellectual wealth increases. Think of a social intranet as a stock market which never has a bad day. By investing your information you help the stock market rise – to the benefit of everyone else.
Others, profiting from your investment decide to contribute what they have, and so on. In a short time we have established a knowledge economy in the organization where filtered, but relevant information is contributed by an information investor, and profited from by others.
I believe this knowledge economy model can work in any organization. It addresses the fundamental needs people have to feel part of something, and to feel that they are bettering themselves as a result. But how does a knowledge economy start?
Like in the financial world, we need angel investors, venture capital of knowledge. These knowledge angels are the seeders of information, questions, topics. They contribute what they know in ways that seem right to them, hoping that others will pick up their investment and build on it.
Think about how Wikipedia got going. A hard core of knowledge was created and the tools were provided to make it easy for others to contribute. In the early days some of the information was inaccurate but thanks to crowd-sourcing eventually the experts in different areas emerge, edit the content (essentially investing their knowledge) and in return they benefit from similar actions by their peers.
These people are commonly referred to as Community Managers. Those who keep the thing going. I’m arguing that just as you need Community Managers, to moderate and stimulate the “market” you still need investors, both big and small to invest and profit from your community “market” to make it self sustaining.
In my next entry, I’ll look at how you encourage the investors to join your market.