A couple of days ago I met my old friends downtown for a beer, some of them having key positions in successful companies. “I remember how cool it was 5 years ago”, one of them said, thinking about how much he had learnt while working for a startup. That small business grew into a multinational company and its culture changed accordingly.
We imagine a startup like a college dorm room, where young people share papers, books and ideas, whereas a company feels more like a place for middle age adults wearing suits and having fun in an organized manner, light years away from that energetic and vibrant mood they were so familiar with in the good ol’ days.
Truth be told, startups have a built-in ability when it comes to sharing. That feeling of family, where everybody sweats for the common goal, often arises. People help each other and are eager to learn different skills out of ambition and out of enthusiasm. You call someone at 3 am telling them about that brilliant idea you can’t wait to share until the morning. And that person is happy you did so.
Sometimes, that effort pays off, and the little startup grows bigger and bigger. Friends no longer work in the same room and no longer split that last can of beer. The company has an office in New York, one in London and plans to expand in Hong Kong. Different people, different time zones, different cultures.
As days go by and companies expand, it seems more and more difficult to save that collaborative attitude that shaped the startup in its very beginning. Fair-play and team spirit are words you get in almost every employee’s resume, but sometimes barely see at work.
Yet, open minded people, with a positive attitude, who value other people’s work and know how to show it, who encourage colleagues to speak and share their ideas and knowledge, often save the day.
And it’s never too late, nor too hard to make amends. People with connected jobs can share their knowledge and questions regardless of their time zone with the help of Enterprise 2.0 solutions. The infamous bridge between the head of department and its subordinates vanishes along with geographical barriers and that college dorm room culture is restored. All it takes is will.
Happy Knowledge Sharing!