Working-out-loud to drive out information hoarders

The new compensation: going to anti-hoarders? — Scobleizer Robert Scoble has an absolutely fascinating post on the nature of information sharing in the workplace. The upshot is this: at most companies, the systems we use condition us to become what Robert calls information hoarders -- private email systems, private document folders, etc. But in a recent interview with Yammer CEO David Sacks, Robert asked the executive "when companies would be compensating people based on the value they are pouring into the system."

What a great way to phrase that question!

It helps a bit to know that Yammer is a company that provides what amounts to an internal Twitter -- a place for employees to share their status, resources, links, and more, in real time with the rest of the organization. Salesforce has rolled out a similar tool with their Chatter service. Taking a service inside with something like Yammer or Chatter suddenly makes the potential benefit of a more public, status driven workforce make much more sense. From Robert, the upshot is right here:

So, when I go and ask whether we should compensate people based on the information they SHARE with a company, that’s a topic these new CEOs aren’t quite willing to talk openly about.

Why? It freaks the information hoarders out and makes them less likely to change to information sharers. In such a world old systems like Microsoft Sharepoint stay relevant and new systems like Yammer don’t get adopted. I’m quite convinced though that in the future at least some of big-company compensation will come from whether you have good knowledge sharing skills.

Think about the time and energy you spend transitioning when you lose long-term team members. Does your succession plan deal with all the nooks and crannies of intellectual capital your critical employees have collected in their tenure? Do you have a system that capitalizes on that knowledge for the institution at large?

Conditioning employees to practice more diligence in their approach to documenting their work on these company-public systems is one way to ensure fewer information silos, and soften the blow when key team members move on. Robert's post is absolutely worth reading in full.