E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

From the blog

Incentives for (Knowledge) Sharing

Yesterday evening, Jack Vinson shared a very interesting and thought provoking weblog post that I thought I would comment on further since it touches on one of the issues I have been facing myself for a number of years now and for which I have always been having some reservations. Over at Knowledge Jolt with Jack he created a post around the subject of Incentives for sharing where he is actually questioning the value of using financial incentives in order to encourage and boost a knowledge sharing culture. He is actually referencing another weblog post from Dinesh Tantri on Moral Versus Economic Incentives For Knowledge Sharing where Dinesh himself is also advocating for a more balanced approach towards incentivising knowledge workers for what they get to share, both using cash incentives and other softer kinds of awards.

Indeed, I just couldn’t have agreed more with both of them! Actually, having been exposed to a number of different incentives programmes I can certainly confirm that not having a balance between both types of incentives is always going to end up in a mess. Yes, a real mess! Not only from the perspective where the quality of the knowledge shared is not going to be up to the standards that other knowledge workers would require, and benefit from, but also because it just helps create an anxiety that KM in general could do without very much so. If not in the end it will hinder it down and get that particular KM programme in trouble. Big trouble.

As I said, there needs to be a balance, but between what?, you may be wondering. Well, basically between what I have been advocating for some time now and which I think would fit in quite nicely into this discussion: two different types of motivation to influence that cultural change to boost knowledge sharing and collaboration:

  • Extrinsic: through some kind of physical recognition, such as cash, (Public) recognition, evaluation and the like, depending on the criteria that may have been set up already.
  • Intrinsic: through some remarkable capabilities such as passion, interest, enjoyment, satisfaction and self-actualisation, which in the end could well be much more powerful than the extrinsic type of motivation on its own. Something that I keep seeing over and over again.

Indeed, whether we like it or not a whole KM programme with an incentives initiative should be taking into consideration that those external motivators may not be good enough. In fact, they could well be for a short period of time but they would not be sustainable since they will not keep that motivation high enough throughout an extended period of time. However, those intrinsic motivators could certainly help people find that extra edge to make it all worth while; to be able to share what they know with others and still enjoy what they do on a day to day basis.

And this is perhaps something that we could learn with all this social software and Web 2.0 offerings that are becoming more and more popular nowadays. They are already providing some really good background for those intrinsic motivators and perhaps once they add up that extrinsic component we would be able to see them take off in the enterprise. At least, they would be providing that balance that most of us have been mentioning, and asking for, all along.

Here are a couple of other weblog posts that I have shared on this particular subject for those folks who may want to do some extended reading:

[tags]Knowledge Management, KM, Social Software, Inventives, Awards[/tags]

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