Monday, April 18, 2011

Sharing Ideas and Information

Seamless flow of information across an organization critical to it’s success. Information could be either tactical such as operational efficiencies, sales volume or strategic such as best practices, success stories, competitive landscape. Less information could lead to un-informed decisions and more information could lead to ‘information overload’ and it’s not always easy to find a fine balance between the two. In this article I would like to emphasize on the ways in which organizations could share information and ideas. I have drawn upon my experiences as an employee of a leading Indian IT company and found these ways really effective.

One of the most prevalent means of sharing information is the use of ‘wikis’. Companies should work towards building an open culture where employees are encouraged to share their professional experiences either good or bad. Fellow employees could learn from co-workers about the best practices, potential pitfalls and ‘what went well’ so that they could replicate success and avoid failures. At the same time, it also gives the upper management an understanding of the issues that employees at the ground level face. In my previous company, people shared all kinds of information such as technical issues, project bottlenecks, resourcing problem, cross-cultural issues and upcoming trend in software industry. In fact, some of the best ideas came from such forums. Employees were duly recognized and rewarded for their contribution.

Another way of sharing information and a more direct one is having ‘open-house’. These open houses were typically conducted in large rooms where the upper management directly interacted with the employee sharing their views and answering questions, if any. These open-houses were conducted on a quarterly basis. This also gave me an opportunity to understand where my company is heading, what’s our business strategy and where do I fit in the ‘big picture’.

Another way of sharing knowledge is by conducting training sessions or workshops. Employees were encouraged to conduct cross-divisional sessions. There were monetary incentives attached to it. This gives an opportunity to understand the business in a holistic fashion and get to know the impact of your work in the upstream and downstream systems.

These are some of the ways in which ideas and information could be shared across an organization. Implementing these could require high level of commitment from the management and an open culture within the organization.

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