White Paper: Knowledge Sharing in a Large Agile Organisation

Knowledge Sharing in a Large Agile Organisation

Insight

This paper discusses the impact that agile ways of working have on the quantity and quality of knowledge sharing within large organisations.  It defines knowledge sharing as the process of transferring information, skills and understanding between people, teams, customers and organisations. 

Summary

Knowledge sharing is the process of transferring information, skills or understanding between people and organisations. Crucially, it contributes towards organisational learning. Agile organisations rely on knowledge as a core resource that underpins all products and services.

This paper presents the results of a survey on organisational knowledge sharing in an Agile context and offers recommendations for knowledge sharing based on suggestions from literature. The survey was organised by the Agile Research Network (ARN) and was conducted in a multinational company operating in the UK, USA and India. The company are already a learning organisation but they want to continually improve. They therefore chose to concentrate on knowledge sharing in order to understand what is working and what needs improvement. The aim of the survey was to understand and identify how knowledge sharing currently takes place in the company. The survey focussed on three aspects of knowledge sharing: within Agile teams, beyond the team with company colleagues, and with customers. It concentrated on knowledge sharing practices, ease of knowledge sharing and motivation for knowledge sharing.

Eighty-one employees completed the survey the majority being software developers. The following list summarises the main findings.

  • Informal discussions are the most common way of sharing knowledge within project teams and with company colleagues
  • Meetings are the most common way of sharing knowledge with the customer
  • Knowledge sharing is easier within project teams than with company colleagues or customers
  • Staff are motivated to share knowledge because they want to rather than because the company asks them to
  • The more Agile practices staff use, the easier they find knowledge sharing with team members
  • The more Agile practices staff use, the more frequently they share knowledge within teams and with customers

We suggest the following for improving organisational knowledge sharing:

  • Enable a knowledge sharing culture with flat management organisation, trust, respect and rewards for sharing
  • Balance the use of technology, processes, expertise networks and physical space in knowledge sharing
  • Build on existing successful knowledge sharing networks, both official and unofficial
  • Create efficient and successful mechanisms for knowledge sharing beyond the team with management, peers and different specialists

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Authors

Agile Research Network

Agile Research Network

The Agile Research Network (ARN) is a collaboration between researchers at two UK universities at the forefront of investigating agile methodologies. The Open University (OU) has a strong research record in using agile methods in practice. The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has a strong record of linking research, teaching and practice through industry-based research and practitioner-focussed Masters and doctoral programmes. ARN is funded through a number of sources; currently, it is funded by the two university members and the Agile Business Consortium.
Email:
[email protected]
Website:
agileresearchnetwork.org
Agile Business Consortium

Agile Business Consortium

The Agile Business Consortium is the professional body for business agility. We’re all about community – whether you’re a multinational working through a large-scale transformation, a new start-up, or a contractor, we can support you to achieve more, to grow more, and to build your business agility. As a global not-for-profit organisation that’s been around for over 25 years, our knowledge and experience around agile competencies and behaviours can offer you the guidance you need to reach your agility goals. Together with our partners, we create and share agile research, case studies, resources and tools that help you compete in today’s uncertain world. A registered not-for-profit, we’re the world’s longest-standing agile-orientated organisation. We’re the brains behind AgilePM®, AgileBA®, AgilePgM®, AgilePfM™ and AgileDS™. Based in the UK, we have members in over 30 countries around the world.

 

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agilebusiness.org
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