Knowledge Sharing in a Large Agile Organisation
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.
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