Think back to your days in elementary school: When the teacher asked a question, every kid who thought he knew the answer would raise his hand as high as he could in the hopes of showcasing his knowledge.
Sometimes one kid knew the right answer, sometimes it was a collaborative effort to get to the response the teacher was looking for, and sometimes no one knew the answer and everyone learned something new. The important thing was that knowledge sharing was in full effect.
These same interactions exist in many enterprise cultures today. Here, though, the eager school children have been replaced by employees and the classroom has been replaced by knowledge management (KM) platforms (particularly those that leverage the Q&A format).
When someone asks a question, anyone who thinks he has the right answer races to showcase his knowledge. This is called the “classroom effect.”
Just like in elementary school, sometimes the first person to respond has the right answer. Sometimes several people possess different pieces of the answer and they need to collaborate to put them together into a coherent solution. And sometimes no one knows exactly what the right answer is, which can lead to further discussions about why this question was asked and why no one knows the answer. Remember, in the enterprise, there are no teacher’s manuals to cheat from.
Unlike elementary school, a KM platform organizes the information it collects, so the next time anyone has the same question he can find the answer with a simple search of the knowledge base. The best KM platforms also provide extra incentives for users to share their knowledge that include:
- Building personal reputations
- Becoming experts on specific topics
- Earning badges (think gold stars) they can show off
In addition, the best KM platforms let users stay informed on the topics that matter to them by following topics and users and customizing the notifications they receive.