Push vs. pull knowledge strategy

Knowledge flow is always a burning issue in organizations and even more so in inter-organizational settings. Modern technology and social media open new channels for knowledge flow but some basic rules apply.

First, knowledge transfer still is a process involving two actors, the sender and the receiver (individuals or organizations), and occurs through different media. Thus, in order to effectively transfer knowledge we need to consider who transfers knowledge to whom.

Second, some knowledge is easier to transfer than the other. We need to consider the content – what are we trying to transfer?

Third, there are different contexts where we try to deliver our message. An important aspect to be considered in a hectic environment.

Fourth, the importance of selecting a suitable medium has increased.

Literature of knowledge management, and knowledge transfer in particular, has studied the phenomenon for a long time. I have made my own contribution to the academic discussion but still struggle with the practice.

I have been learning the basics of Twitter and blogging during the last year or so. I’m also present and somewhat active in Linkedin and Slideshare. I have tried several approaches; Finnish, English, formal, informal, figures and photos. I have changed the timing, length of the message and tweeted my own content as well as retweeted others.

I have tried to consider my audience, paid attention to the content and differentiated my message according to the channel. Just like the literature advices. I have also read practical instructions and followed the guidelines of “twitter-gurus”. However, my experiences are not very encouraging.

I have received some ‘thumbs up’, retweets and favorites. My follower count has more than doubled. However, quite many of the new followers are just fishing followers for themselves and disappear if I don’t follow back. Most popular tweet categories are photos on flowers, Finnish winter or the beauty of the city of Tampere not to mention Voice of Finland.

Unfortunately, my actual message receives very little attention. However, for my delight, there has also been some improvement in this.

There are of course differences between disciplines. It is not very surprising that social media, IoT and digitalization are popular themes in social media. Public administration or municipalities and their performance are not as sexy topics.

However, I’m improving. Every now and then I see some light. I believe that there definitely is potential in social media from the knowledge flow viewpoint. But, it seems to take fairly long time to build such an audience that the needed effort will pay back.

The question of whether the needed effort will pay back is often bypassed. For a long time you are trying to be social with yourself and just screaming into the void.

Breaking out of the bubble, enlarging you social network and reaching the appropriate audience seems to be far more difficult than I made myself understand in the first place and by reading gurus’ advices. It takes a lot of effort, requires continuous presence and participation, extreme patience and something very snappy to say in order to get noticed by others than those you have already sold your ideas to (in some other medium).

And above all, you need change from the ‘push strategy’ to ‘pull strategy’. Here this means that you should not only focus on polishing your own ego, instead you need to participate and embrace the customer perspective (your readers).


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