Are there types of organizations where knowledge sharing is a matter of life and death, and what can we learn from them?
The formal pilot training course consists mainly of an instructor and student flying a specific lesson which the student learned as much as he could in the 1 hour flight. It is expected that you take the lessons you learned in the air and share it with all your classmates, because there is no way to learn everything in the 1 hour flight. It was never a good thing if one student knew a critical piece of information and the rest of the class didn’t. The saying was always “Cooperate and graduate”.
This kind of knowledge sharing is critical in the field, too. It may be a struggle to get people in conservative organizations to share, but there are clear situations where sharing helps others and helps you.
Medicine is similar. Sharing knowledge and effective practices can save lives. In The Checklist Manifesto, Atul Gawande writes :
… the volume and complexity of knowledge today has exceeded our ability as individuals to properly deliver it to people—consistently, correctly, safely.
He describes how distilling shared knowledge into checklists (that include quick conversations between the surgeon, nurses, and anaesthetists!) can prevent missed steps and coordination errors that might have fatal results.
You might think that if you share what you know through a presentation or blog post, you still won’t save a life or make a big difference.
I think of it this way: sharing can help me make a bigger difference than I can on my own. Sharing also helps me helps other people make a bigger difference than they can on their own. Who knows, maybe through the magic of compounding knowledge, I can fit two or more “lives” into this one life that I have. Not as dramatic as saving a life, but it can still help build a better world.
So my question is: what if sharing knowledge could make a difference between a bigger life and a smaller life? My answer is yes, so I do.