In a recent article in the Harvard Business Review, Michael Porter and Mark Kramer point to a new vision for a corporation. They write:
“The purpose of the corporation must be redefined as creating shared value, not just profit, per se. This will drive the next wave of innovation and productivity growth in the global economy. It will also reshape capitalism and its relationship to society. Perhaps most important of all, learning how to create shared value is our best chance to legitimize business again.”
The creation of shared value can only start within a framework of open, transparent and fearlessly shared knowledge. Yet we have all seen the phenomenon of knowledge hoarding in silos:
- Data is disguised because it might displease a cranky boss while a deadline looms
- Information is hidden because it indicates a safety glitch that you think you can fix before anyone notices
- Knowledge is sequestered until you can unveil it and “save the day” at the quarterly meeting
- Wisdom, even wisdom, is sometimes held in check because a leader does not want to appear weak or uncertain about not having the one right answer
A company that is not consciously creating a comfortable atmosphere for sharing information across silos is neglecting a tremendous asset: the knowledge that lives in its people.
It is also overlooking the opportunities that better wisdom-sharing creates, as Chip Pitts, former chief legal officer for Nokia Inc., pointed out in a recent article:
“CSR starts with a commitment to ‘integrated decision-making’ i.e. systemic thinking, that sees the interrelationships between top global issues, stakeholders, corporate departments and previously segregated roles of individuals.”
How is wisdom shared across and among the silos at your company? Is it horizontal or vertical or both?
Is your leadership aware of the ideas and knowledge of all your stakeholders? Do you have a handle on all the innovations and risks that could radically change your industry in the next ten years?