Finding the Sharpest Knife in the Drawer


We are seeing an explosion of social networking tools that are designed to bring people together — tools that make it possible for people to connect more easily. James Surowiecki describes the opportunity that comes from capturing the wisdom of crowds; but what if you have a need to capture the wisdom of an individual?

How do you unlock the specialised knowledge that exists in your organisation? There is an amazing wealth of experience and opinion out there, but in many cases it’s trapped in the minds of the individuals. Individuals who, for whatever reason, might be reluctant to advertise their unique value.

Gia Lyons talked about this a while back:

Why is it so hard to get your smart people to share? Because human beings typically share their precious knowledge only with people they trust. Not a software application.

Ah yes. Trust.

Gia goes on to talk about how the spoken word is more effective than the written word in both transmitting knowledge and increasing trust in a relationship. I think that’s very true.

Taking it one step further, I think that direct communication that contains elements of visual connectedness includes an additional emotional component that can expedite the formation of trust.

Combining social networking tools that help manage the complexities and details of large numbers of relationships with advanced communication tools that can increase the effectiveness and depth of a conversation is the best of both worlds.

Roger Farnsworth

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  1. #1 by Richard - February 1st, 2009 at 13:32

    Visual communication is a great way to build trust. But don’t discount a person’s need to be right! People generally hoard knowledge because they feel to give up that knowledge would be tipping their hand to someone else, and that person could possibly have an advantage over them.

    Use electronic face-to-face communication to build trust, but use the semi-anonymity of a forum or blog to get those little details people ‘forget’ to tell in person. People have a compulsion to be included in a group of like-minded individuals, so are more likely to share their opinions without fear of rejection of their ideas over a forum format. Also the need to correct others who are wrong or missing info is a great motivator to showing what you know. Like I once heard it said “I can’t go to bed yet, someone on the internet is wrong!”

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