To ensure that his team is always in tune and aligned with a common approach to drive strategic vision, Amazon.com Inc.’s CEO Jeff Bezos created a corporate book club; he requires his team to read books curated by himself. Leaders like Bezos understand how the absence of structured knowledge sharing creates room for unproductive discussions, silos and lack of genuine commitment to the execution effort.
On the other hand, with leader-led knowledge sharing, organizations can influence behavioral shifts that align their vision with those of their employees, customers, stakeholders and communities. Why don’t more leaders adopt this deliberate knowledge sharing to drive business success?
Leaders recognize that effective execution is greater than half of the leadership challenge when it comes to improving performance via strategic change. Too frequently, however, we still seek solutions from the same toolkit, which has not previously delivered results. To drive effective strategy execution, companies need to embrace the potential their leaders have to influence organizational conversations by deliberately curating and sharing knowledge using digital communication channels.
Here are four crucial steps to influence organizational conversations and shift mindsets with leaders as chief knowledge curators.
- Understand what your employees are trying to accomplish. Organizations should look at employees in the same way they look at customers. Using the “Jobs to Be Done Theory” by Harvard Business School professor Clayton M. Christensen’s, leaders should ask questions like, what job are employees trying to get done when they commute to work? This is key as companies do not simply replace their entire workforce when there is a strategic change, no matter how large or small. Company employees are regularly deployed to execute new strategies. It is, therefore, critical to understand that beyond the paycheck and other personal commitments, there are other reasons people wake up every day and unite behind a shared vision.
- Become a chief knowledge curator. Now that you understand the job your employees are trying to get done and have outlined areas of knowledge to help inspire the change your company needs, the next step is to search, curate and share knowledge across the organization. Another chief knowledge curator is Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. Nadella uses the growth mindset concept from Stanford University psychology professor Carol Dweck to influence Microsoft’s corporate culture to better fit modern business practices and to challenge its fundamental business assumptions.
- Reinforce bottom-up knowledge sharing through organizational idea hubs. For knowledge sharing to become sustainable, organizations should institutionalize a virtual idea hub where ideas can be shared, analyzed and presented. Google, for example, has a share everything policy. If someone needs input or has an idea, there is a group to talk about the issue, which encourages discussion and the open exchange of information. The language translation feature in Google Talk resulted from talks between two teams in this arrangement.
- Integrate knowledge sharing into your performance process. As the saying goes, what gets measured gets done, and the same applies to knowledge sharing. To bring it all together, knowledge sharing in the digital world of work needs to enter into the organizational performance process. It should not merely be a key performance indicator, it should inform organizations how to achieve sustained performance through engagement.
In any given day, employees share thousands of ideas. In the world where information is accessible beyond corridor chats, organizations can deploy simple methods to mine, curate and distribute valuable knowledge that will help drive the overall corporate mission. The key is to ensure this process is an authentic experience, one that is encouraged throughout the company. It begins with the CEO claiming their new role as chief knowledge curator — one knowledge, one idea, one sharing, one discussion at the time.