Seth Godin makes a very good point about trusting the select few to curate information, whether they be leaders, managers, certified professionals, researchers, or any other group of experts.
We have no idea in advance who the great contributors are going to be. We know that there’s a huge cohort of people struggling outside the boundaries of the curated, selected few, but we don’t know who they are.
When it comes to knowledge, we often do not know in advance what will be useful in the future. I discuss this when coaching people how to narrate their work, an essential part of encouraging social learning in the workplace. Overly editing one’s own work is similar to overly editing who does the curation of our knowledge flows. Seth Godin explains it with this graphic.
In software programming, the saying is that with enough eyes, all bugs are shallow. Or put another way, the more people who look at a problem, fewer errors will get through. In the case of enterprise knowledge-sharing, an incredibly inexact practice; with enough voices quality will emerge. Only an open system can ensure this, which is why I highlighted the knowledge sharing paradox.
When it comes to knowledge, and learning, only open systems are effective. All closed systems will fail over time, especially if discovery and innovation are happening outside that system. The question for organizational leaders is whether they think they can create an artificial, closed system that can compete with almost 3 billion people connected to that hive mind called the internet. The good news is that they do not have to. Encouraging cooperation, along with workplace collaboration, ensures more open knowledge sharing.