Why Smart People are Reluctant to Share (Redux)

Rajesh says that smart people are reluctant to share because their expertise has become “obvious” to them and background thinking, hence they don’t realize that others could benefit from it.

Gia shares another perspective in her May 2008 blog post, Why is it so hard to get smart people to share? She says the problem is a lack of relationship.

Because you are the one individual who knows this stuff, you are reluctant to advertise that fact, for fear of the avalanche of requests to collaborate. You need more emails, IMs, and phone calls like you need another orifice in your cranium. Plus, these people who would swarm you like flies on poo will not perhaps care too much if you are over-extended. But, you are more than happy to share what you know with one or two others, after you’ve discerned that they won’t abuse you, won’t stab you in the back, won’t take credit for your intellectual capital, and will perhaps return the favor. The people who invest in creating a relationship with you are rewarded with your experienced point of view.

It is impossible for anyone to imbue the full power of their experience into a profile, a blog, a forum, a wiki, a presentation, a tag, a podcast, a video, or anything else. A wisdom holder’s value lies in their ability to bring their experience to bear on a situation within context, in real time. This is most often done extemporaneously, and in my world, over the phone. And if done well, true breakthrough thinking can happen.” (emphasis added)

My Comments
1. Rajesh and Gia have complementary perspectives. Within a conversation (Gia’s point), the “obvious and background thinking” (Raj’s point) will come to the fore, and be applied to a specific situation.

2. “KM” as an approach to “create externalized databases of knowledge apart from people” has failed – eg., the ‘suck your knowledge out of your brain and put it in a database’ strategy. “KM” as an approach to “self-populate knowledge yellow pages with expertise labels” also largely failed, due to lack of adoption and information currency. “KM” as an approach to create connections between people through voluntarily externalized artifacts and reasoned expertise labels … is still being tested.

One thought on “Why Smart People are Reluctant to Share (Redux)

  1. Good post – self interest is a way to get people to share. Or, create something they wish to participate in.

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