The 6 Factors of Knowledge Worker Productivity: Chapter 6 – Factor 3 – Information Sharing and Transactive Memory System

We’re on to the 3rd factor that our research team identified as being associated with Knowledge Worker Productivity performance through their review of over 800 papers. Most of the research related to the productivity of Knowledge Worker teams, but many of the findings can be translated to apply to organisations, divisions or units.

3rd Factor of Knowledge Worker Productivity: Information Sharing

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‘Information Sharing: Refers to how teams pool and access their knowledge and expertise – which positively affects decision making and team processes. This leads to the idea of a team ‘Transactive Memory System’ (TMS) which can be thought of as a collective memory in a collective mind – enabling a team to think and act together.’ 

In other words… it’s about creating a culture and infrastructure for sharing knowledge and treating the whole team and the wider community as a ‘knowledge memory’. This will make it so that team members can short circuit the search for the best sources of knowledge and avoid re-inventing the wheel. It’s about allowing your knowledge economy to find out who has what knowledge and experience (regardless of however relevant or irrelevant it is in the moment). And it’s about capturing this knowledge in a system or a ‘knowledge register’ and re-enforcing sharing by rewarding good sharing behaviours in all employees regardless of seniority, power or personality.

Why is Information Sharing important?

Knowledge is power so they say, and in traditional organisations people can often hold back on sharing their knowledge with others within their team, in other teams and in other divisions for fear that their ‘knowledge generosity’ will lead to their own power being diminished. If this culture prevails the organisation will be starved of the knowledge these people could bring and constrain the ‘generosity’ of others.

As I said in one of the earlier articles, Knowledge Workers need to be viewed as Knowledge Receptacles. Each time you give them a new project they gain more knowledge which the organisation needs to retain and ultimately needs access to. So culturally, people need to feel free to share their knowledge and information without worrying about the implication it might have for their own futures. To support this it’s very desirable to have the IT tools to help people know ‘who knows what’ and social networking tools so that people can ask questions of the network and receive contacts and answers. Clearly this only works in a culture of open-ness and knowledge sharing and one where people are not fearful of being judged by people who can influence their future.

Transactive Memory System

The other concept here is that of the ‘Transactive Memory System’ in other words members of a team form a collective memory in which people know what people know and that there are binding events or pieces of knowledge that link everyone’s expertise together. This is particularly important where you have teams of experts in different fields.

For a company that utilises agile working or activity based working, it is important to install the right tools, equipment and technology to maximise information sharing. The workplace management of a more agile team is a bit different, and making sure information is readily accessible and delivered is key to maintaining productivity between knowledge workers.

I’ll leave you with a question: what things could be done in your organisation to improve information sharing?

In the next article I’m going to unveil the 4th Factor of the 6 factors of Knowledge Worker Productivity.

Also see our latest blog piece on Knowledge Sharing in the Office.

For more information about knowledge worker productivity or information sharing, you can contact a workplace management consultant on +44 207 743 7110. Alternatively you can email with your inquiry. Advanced Workplace Associates are based in London, United Kingdom but now work internationally across the United States of America, Asia and Europe.

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