Please or Register to create posts and topics.

Sharing knowledge: when? with who? why?

Hello,

once more, my context is the one of medicine in Switzerland, which are amplified by one another in this context:

  • A) Switzerland: culture around secrets, looking good and having good status. People want status, money and power in a capitalistic and consumerist culture but are afraid to admit it as this desire is very much frowned upon valued in a protestant society. Work ethic is important as it shows your piety and being humble is valued (but people pay lip service to being humble).
  • B) Medicine: knowledge and experience are the ultimate currency. Knowledge and experience trumps intelligence. The one who knows has the power.

So, I'm a resident and in some cases, I am called to share my knowledge with interns (medical students not yet finished with their basic medical education) and other residents. In these cases, when I talk everybody is listening as because of A) and B) knowledge is very much valued but very poorly distributed in medicine.

So, stupidly, knowledge is a scarce resource in my context. Very few people have a lot of it and many have few of it. Because of the bad teaching system and the culture of being self-reliant, it's very hard to acquire within the system. That is why I'm learning on the side on a daily basis with another system. If I would rely only on the swiss system where I live to acquire my knowledge, I would become a bad doctor (in my eyes). I'm sorry but it's the reality. That is why I want to move out by the way.

Anyway, here is my question:

In this context, how would you deal with sharing your knowledge?

Pros:

  • It's just the right thing to do for the group: the more I share my knowledge, the better all patients are treated, even though not by me.
  • It's my responsibility to teach medical students
  • I love to do it
  • It helps me to learn
  • It shows that the current culture of keeping one's knowledge to oneself is bullshit
  • It elevates my status and the respect I get as I display my knowledge

Cons

  • Opponents can learn from my knowledge and go beyond me and get rewards instead of me getting them

What do you think?

Hello guys,

I'm asking the question again since I still haven't found the answer.

Context:

In the emergency department, it's an open space. When you talk out loud everybody can hear you (I talk loud). When I'm coaching an intern, I teach him/her everything I know. The reason is: 1. it's my job 2. I love to teach. 3. When I teach I learn.

My issue is that I learned a lot of things by learning by myself or thinking deeply about medicine, diagnosis and diseases. So some of my knowledge people don't have it because they've just been exposed to the usual university stuff: average knowledge. Especially for clinical reasoning and diagnosis which are unfortunately poorly taught in many universities.

So when I teach the intern everybody can hear me: the nurses, my supervisors, the executives and my peers. So they hear stuff that I know they never heard before because people learn and do the routine stuff without the deep understanding of the "why".

What do you think is the effect on power dynamics of these different kinds of people?

Here is my take:

  1. Nurses: I get to be recognized as an authority. I get more respect when they hear I know some stuff.
  2. Peers: I'm afraid they just absorb the knowledge and use it to compete with me (the reason of this post)
  3. Supervisors: they can see that I know some stuff but can feel like I'm a threat
  4. Executives: I think this shows I'm supervisor material.

That being said today I talked out loud about and the difference between executives and us as residents and interns.

Result: silence. Everybody was listening to what I was going to say.

And I said: it's that they have tons of experience so they can skip a few steps while we still have to go through those steps because we are beginners. So we have to do all the steps and describe in details all the steps. That's how we can learn. We cannot allow ourselves to think exactly like they do because we don't have the experience to allow ourselves to do it.

So in my mind it was a very positive comment. I don't know how people heard it though.

What is your opinion on this?

I am also learning to think like Jocko Willink, with the mantra "I want the team to win" so if I want the team to win, I want everyone to know as much as possible to do the best job possible.

Hey John,

This is a very important question indeed.

I think the approach of "the team to win" is wonderful. And it's great for all, including you... When you're playing with a friendly team and within a system that promotes true competence.

Obviously, we know that's not always the case.

When you're also in competition with others, including non-team players, then some power dynamics and Machiavellian strategies can help. Not just help you win, but also help the system, since it's better to have you with more power, than some of those "value black holes" who play selfishly and take without giving.


One realization that lowers the risk of sharing

Have you thought about this:

  • You're not sharing ALL your knowledge, even when you share ALL medical knowledge

Keep in mind that you are sharing your medical knowledge.
You are not emptying all of yourself there. You are not sharing power dynamics, and you are not sharing effective life, work, social, and Machiavellian strategies.

And we might argue that those are as important in advancing at work as your medical knowledge is.

This simple realization could make you far more willing to share medical knowledge since your peers are only learning 50% -or less- of your true added value.

Strategies

I'm throwing a few quick ideas for now:

  • Becoming "too good to be fucked with"

When I was working in IT, there was one guy who was a well of knowledge.

His knowledge was so deep, and he used it so well for his work, that he had sky-high reputation in the whole department.

Even if you wanted to talk bad about him, it was difficult, since everyone knew he was just so good and knowledgeable at his work.
It wasn't the case, but even if his boss didn't like him, it was impossible for even the boss to get rid of him without taking a big risk on himself.

Le'ts call this strategy "too good be to fucked with" (TGFW).

Now imagine you become TGFW.
Even if a supervisor preferred someone else, when it's promotion time, it would be impossible for the supervisor not to promote TGFW, since his boss, as well as everyone in the hospital, would know that the supervisor is playing some nasty games.
The supervisor is forced to promote TFGW because TFGW has such a stellar reputation that TFGW has power even vis-a-vis his boss.

This is especially true if your reputation has moved upward to the executives.

So between "keeping your knowledge" and "seeking to become TGFW", I'd definitely recommend the latter.
Even if you fall short of TGFW status, you still gain lots of reputation, status, and power that you can use to defend yourself against supervisors' fuckery.

  • Smart sharing

However, some strategies can still help.
For example:

  • Share a bit less when it's only peers
  • Share all, and as eloquently as possible, when it's executives around
  • Share with some compliments to the team / reporting line when a supervisor is around (you've already done that, indirectly, when you said the more experienced ones can skip some steps)

If all of them are around, then share all, plus embedding some compliments for the structure / organization, and do it with "us frames" (ie.: "in this hospital, we focus on... ").

  • Targeting the execs

Man, in those situations your best friends are executives and owners.

People who have a stake in the well-being of the organization want to promote talent, and that's why they are so crucial.
If they get to see your talent, drive, and skills, that will insulate you from supervisors' and peers' jealousy.
But of course, just to be sure, you still actively minimize the opportunities for competition and jealousy with them (compliments, collaborative frames, friendly relationships, etc. etc.).

  • Maximizing self-promotion

Those situations when you are explaining, John... They are SUCH, wait, SUCH huge opportunities for self-promotion and increasing your power in the workplace.

And it sounds like you're already doing a great job.
You'd just be handicapping yourself if you didn't give it your best.

Indeed, you should ask yourself:

How to present while showcasing talent even more?

You can definitely think of ways to present your knowledge in ways that further showcase the work you have done beyond school.

As a matter of fact, try to think of some and feel free to share here for feedback.

 

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?
Hello Lucio,
excuse me for the delay: I wanted to have enough time in front of me to answer properly. Once more, I was blown away when I read your answer so I'm very grateful for your enlightening answer, sincerely.
Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on August 18, 2020, 6:57 am

Hey John,

This is a very important question indeed.

I think the approach of "the team to win" is wonderful. And it's great for all, including you... When you're playing with a friendly team and within a system that promotes true competence.

Obviously, we know that's not always the case.

When you're also in competition with others, including non-team players, then some power dynamics and Machiavellian strategies can help. Not just help you win, but also help the system, since it's better to have you with more power, than some of those "value black holes" who play selfishly and take without giving.

Very very important conditional remarks. That's also why I'm not shy to say (outside of work) that I want more power. It's because I know that my goal is to use it for the greater good as I do my best on a daily basis to do already do it. AKA NOT "WHEN I'll have the power, THEN I'll be kind and generous. In the meantime I have to be an asshole because, you know..."


One realization that lowers the risk of sharing

Have you thought about this:

  • You're not sharing ALL your knowledge, even when you share ALL medical knowledge

Keep in mind that you are sharing your medical knowledge.
You are not emptying all of yourself there. You are not sharing power dynamics, and you are not sharing effective life, work, social, and Machiavellian strategies.

And we might argue that those are as important in advancing at work as your medical knowledge is.

This simple realization could make you far more willing to share medical knowledge since your peers are only learning 50% -or less- of your true added value.

No, I never thought about that. This is the idea that blew me away. This motivates me even more to learn the interpersonal skills, so paramount to a social species such as ours.

Strategies

I'm throwing a few quick ideas for now:

  • Becoming "too good to be fucked with"

When I was working in IT, there was one guy who was a well of knowledge.

His knowledge was so deep, and he used it so well for his work, that he had sky-high reputation in the whole department.

Even if you wanted to talk bad about him, it was difficult, since everyone knew he was just so good and knowledgeable at his work.
It wasn't the case, but even if his boss didn't like him, it was impossible for even the boss to get rid of him without taking a big risk on himself.

Le'ts call this strategy "too good be to fucked with" (TGFW).

Now imagine you become TGFW.
Even if a supervisor preferred someone else, when it's promotion time, it would be impossible for the supervisor not to promote TGFW, since his boss, as well as everyone in the hospital, would know that the supervisor is playing some nasty games.
The supervisor is forced to promote TFGW because TFGW has such a stellar reputation that TFGW has power even vis-a-vis his boss.

This is especially true if your reputation has moved upward to the executives.

So between "keeping your knowledge" and "seeking to become TGFW", I'd definitely recommend the latter.
Even if you fall short of TGFW status, you still gain lots of reputation, status, and power that you can use to defend yourself against supervisors' fuckery.

Boom. So boom that Cal Newport is clapping  and cheering from the other side of the atlantic ocean to this, as we speak.

  • Smart sharing

However, some strategies can still help.
For example:

  • Share a bit less when it's only peers
  • Share all, and as eloquently as possible, when it's executives around
  • Share with some compliments to the team / reporting line when a supervisor is around (you've already done that, indirectly, when you said the more experienced ones can skip some steps)

If all of them are around, then share all, plus embedding some compliments for the structure / organization, and do it with "us frames" (ie.: "in this hospital, we focus on... ").

So powerful, it's not even fair.

  • Targeting the execs

Man, in those situations your best friends are executives and owners.

People who have a stake in the well-being of the organization want to promote talent, and that's why they are so crucial.
If they get to see your talent, drive, and skills, that will insulate you from supervisors' and peers' jealousy.
But of course, just to be sure, you still actively minimize the opportunities for competition and jealousy with them (compliments, collaborative frames, friendly relationships, etc. etc.).

Thanks to you, I realized that with forum/PU. In the beginning I thought that they were the most conservative ones, but I was very wrong. I think that you are right, the layer just above me I must have as good as a relationship with them that they don't parasite my reputation with the executives. We don't want that: Executive: "John did a great presentation the other day, too bad you missed it". Supervisor: "Really? Well I hope it was better than when he gave the wrong treatment to this patient" (imaginary situation).

  • Maximizing self-promotion

Those situations when you are explaining, John... They are SUCH, wait, SUCH huge opportunities for self-promotion and increasing your power in the workplace.

And it sounds like you're already doing a great job.
You'd just be handicapping yourself if you didn't give it your best.

Indeed, you should ask yourself:

How to present while showcasing talent even more?

You can definitely think of ways to present your knowledge in ways that further showcase the work you have done beyond school.

As a matter of fact, try to think of some and feel free to share here for feedback.

Wow. Just wow.

There is this part I did not really undersand: "You can definitely think of ways to present your knowledge in ways that further showcase the work you have done beyond school."

You mean self-development? Or my knowledge of engineering? Anything that makes me look more valuable? Could you give an example please?

If I understand well, you mean in the context of giving a presentation?

Many thanks for this post. Instant mind upgrade.

Hey John,

Glad it was helpful, and yes, great catch and quip there, the "Too Good to Be Fucked With" could indeed be seen as a subset of "So Good They Can't Ignore You".

By "showcasing your knowledge beyond school", I mean to showcase the knowledge that you acquire by yourself, with your own studies and with your own intelligent dot-connecting skills.
Because both of them -dot-connecting skills and seeking knowledge far beyond the textbooks- say a lot of great things about you.

So ideally, you would present to others by dropping hints that you have gone far beyond what was expected. When doing that, indirectly you are saying that you are far more advanced than your current role and position. And of course that does a lot of good things for your status, plus bodes really well for your career.

But ideally, you don't want to be too obvious about it, or you come across as bragging -plus you give easy ammo for the frenemies-.
And that's why I said "think of ways to... ", since you want to be strategic on showcasing your value-adding input, without coming across as bragging.

 

Stef and superleo60 have reacted to this post.
Stefsuperleo60
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Powerful idea, thank you very much!

Stef and superleo60 have reacted to this post.
Stefsuperleo60