The Holidays are upon us and in many cultures it is a time to share. Black Friday and Cyber Monday focus on sharing in terms of physical gift giving, but I think there are other important kinds of sharing as well. Knowledge and perspective can be a wonderful gift. I’m writing to ask you about the best strategies you have found for sharing knowledge and wisdom.

In The Plugged-In ManagerI tell Rhonda Winter’s story about sharing by thinking aloud (she's the CIO at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway). I also suggest giving colleagues the chance to learn by doing. Both these methods are subtle, informal ways of sharing ideas that we have learned through experience.

I am generally biased toward learning by doing. I do wonder though, in these hectic times when many people are doing jobs that used to be done by multiple colleagues, whether we need to be more direct if we are going to share knowledge. Research suggests that it is difficult to be creative or to learn new techniques when under a heavy workload. We may be expecting a lot of our colleagues if are looking for them to learn on their own in our current environment.

Some questions (and comments are appreciated below):

  1. What strategies have you found valuable for nudging colleagues towards new ideas that you have found useful yourself? Is it possible to learn without doing if provided with appropriate guidance?
  2. Do you have examples of more direct, formal strategies for helping subordinates, peers, and even bosses, gain knowledge and wisdom in your area of expertise?
  3. Have you personally been able to gain deep understanding when presented with structured, formal forms of knowledge, versus having the chance to learn by doing?
  4. Will you join me in sharing the gift of time and mental space with a colleague so they can have the opportunity to gain some small piece of wisdom during this hectic time?

In a prior post I offered a list of books that I have found valuable over the last year. That was a subtle, or perhaps not subtle at all, way of sharing ideas that I think you and your colleagues might find of value. Books make wonderful holiday gifts and prizes. However, books without time to read are of little value. I hope you can give yourself, and your colleagues, the gift of time and mental space in this holiday season.