The Seven Deadly Sins of Knowledge Sharing in Networks

On 16th July, I was fortunate enough to take part in this webinar organised by NHS England’s Sustainable Improvement Team and Source4Networks, which posed the  following questions:

  • What are the barriers to sharing knowledge across your networks?
  • How can we learn from others to apply this knowledge to the NHS?

Chris Collison, author and expert in networks and knowledge management, was on hand to guide us through some of these critical barriers, namely the seven deadly sins – or syndromes – that can affect networks and stifle the supply or demand for knowledge sharing.

1) Tall Poppy Syndrome – Based on the idea that the tallest poppy in a field is the first to get cut down to size, this syndrome illustrates a reluctance to put your head above the parapet and a tendency to keep a low profile and not get involved.

2) Shrinking Violet Syndrome – Another “sin” that stifles the supply of shared knowledge in a network, based on a feeling of false humility, and that you have nothing useful to share.

3) Not-Invented-Here Syndrome – This syndrome impacts the demand for knowledge
sharing; the view that your organisation or team has a unique set of problems that can’t be
fixed by adopting other people’s solutions. Besides (the thinking goes) why use someone
else’s solutions when you can gain kudos for inventing your own?

4) Tom Tom Syndrome – Also known as Real-Men-Don’t-Ask-For-Directions Syndrome. A
reluctance to ask for help when you’re lost, due to a fear of being seen to be incompetent.
This “muddling along” approach is another barrier that stifles knowledge sharing by reducing demand.

5) Lacknowledgement Syndrome – The perception that by sharing good practice there is
somehow a “lack of acknowledgement”, and a suspicion that someone else will take the
credit for your hard work.

6) Lock-it-Away Syndrome – Here, a potential solution, idea or example of good practice is
not shared, either because it is never quite finished, or because everything produced by the organisation or team is locked down by default due to security policies.

7) Hamster-on-the-Wheel Syndrome – This “sin” comes down to time – or lack of it. A feeling that you’re just too busy going round in circles to stop and share what you’re doing.

A quick webinar poll indicated that this last “sin” was particularly prevalent, and something that most of the attendees were familiar with, but we all recognised the various other syndromes as well. Chris went on to suggest some antidotes, such as:

  • Make it safe to share
  • Think about use of language – e.g. looking for “answers” can place an unintended
    burden on people
  • Establish what “good” looks like, so the network has a frame of reference – e.g. using
    a maturity model for an agreed scale of good practice
  • Make it easier for people to ask for help – e.g. awards for things like:
    o Transferring good practice
    o Re-using a solution
    o Embedding a good practice
  • Share failures as well as successes
  • Acknowledge everything – where it came from etc.
  • Check what security policies actually say about sharing information outside the
    organisation
  • Legitimise the time spent sharing knowledge, e.g.
    o Establish a network sponsor
    o Find and share stories of things that worked

From my experience, we already have many of these antidotes in place in our LKS network in the South, but we all interact with networks at an organisational or directorate level, and personally I recognised quite a few of these deadly syndromes. I found the webinar
extremely illuminating,engaging and motivating.

For anyone interested in viewing the recorded webinar, you can find it here. For those of you who would like to dig a bit deeper, both Chris Collison’s and Source4Networks’ websites and twitter details are below:

Chris Collison: www.chriscollison.com / @chris_collison
Source4Networks: https://www.source4networks.org.uk/ / @source4networks

Andrew Brown
Library Services Manager
Wexham Park Hospital (WXM)

This article was first published in Swimming Pool, Issue 109, August 2018, p.7-10

Mergers and Amalgamations

Can there be any one of us working in the NHS who isn’t affected in some way by a new working relationship with another organisation? The NHS landscape is changing at a faster pace than previously, and driven mostly by financial pressures mergers/alliances and partnerships have been springing up in many places.  

Does this affect our library services? If so how, and how do you survive a time of organisational change which may see the joining of two previously separate services?  

To help try and answer some of these questions a Task and Finish Group was set up to develop a toolkit for supporting service redesign – including mergers, amalgamations and the potential for ‘fewer services covering larger geographies’.  

The Task and Finish Group set about combining their experiences of having been through some sort of “coming together” to produce materials which might benefit colleagues who find themselves in a similar position.  

This group has now concluded the initial task and have produced an ABC Guide, shared case studies and background reading to support library staff and their managers through the often difficult process of coming together.  

These materials are the start and there is a case study template available for anyone who wishes to share their experience for the benefit of others. Please contribute to this developing resource.  

 The work is not intended to be the definitive guide to how (or how not!!) to combine services but highlights some common issues which you might encounter and things that will happen that you might not expect. 

 The following are the members of the Task and Finish Group who produced the guide and supplementary information 

 Emma Aldrich, Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust 

Helen Alper, Barts Health NHS Trust 

Daryl Bate, University Hospitals of the North Midlands NHS Trust 

Sam Burgess, Southern Health NHS Trust 

Catherine Fisher, City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust & South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust 

Mic Heaton, Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 

Becky Williams, Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust 
——————————————————————————————————————–

Sue Lacey Bryant

Topol Review Programme Manager;
& Senior Advisor, Knowledge for Healthcare

How can I get hold of a copy of the Evidence and Knowledge Self-Assessment Tool aka “The Board Tool”?

Visit this dedicated page to access a copy of the Evidence and Knowledge Self-Assessment Tool.

The page also has links to guidance documents; a webinar about using the tool; an editable Section 4  – Priorities and Planning for you to add your own local examples;  an example of a completed tool after use with a fictional transformation team; and some contacts for people across regions who may be able to help you get started with using the Tool.

Why is it no longer known simply as the “Board Tool”?

The Tool is great to use with executive teams, to fully consider how well evidence and knowledge are being used in an organisation and to identify opportunities for developments.  However the Tool has wider applications than just being used with Board members of an organistion, this is why we have changed the name.  In fact we would recommend that you start using the Tool  with a department or team that knows your services well and with whom you can work to create an action plan to help them use evidence and knoweldge even more effectively to meet their team objectives.   Some services have also used the Tool as a starting place to develop local library and knowledge service strategy and planning documents or to scope an enhanced service.

How have you used the Tool?

Use the comments section to tell us how you have made use of the Tool.  For some, the immediate response from having a conversation about the Tool has not led to a full action plan but after a period of time there has been greater uptake in existing services such as evidence-requests by the individuals who took part.

Feel you need more information and help with using the Tool in your organiastion?

We are currently preparing some refresher sessions:  an introduction to the Tool which will be included in the four regional training events being held in September promoting #Knowvember2018  and some more in-depth sessions looking at engagement and exploring the Tool in more detail in Winter/Spring.  Please let us know what else you would like included?

on behalf of the Mobilising Evidence and Knowledge Work Stream, Knowledge for Healthcare HEE.knowledgeforhealthcare@nhs.net