Lost in translation

I suppose it’s not surprising because of my job that a lot of people ask me, “So, this Knowledge Hub, what’s it all about?” And my answer…?

Well, it doesn’t vary much; it usually goes something along the lines of “It’s a digital platform that enables people to collaborate with each other, to share information, good practice, experience and ideas, hopefully with the outcome of improving the part of public service that they work for.”

The response is sometimes, “Well, yes, that’s all very nice if you’ve got time, but what’s really in it for me?

“OK, well, it’s a secure place full of other people just like you, often geographically dispersed, or prevented from coming together face to face because of time/cost constraints, where you can get answers to questions and find solutions to problems quickly that help you in your everyday work. Knowledge Hub can end up saving you time – and money.”

Of course, Knowledge Hub is essentially a piece of technology, but that’s really just the tool to help you do what you want/need to do. The lifeblood of the platform is the people who join it – people working together, collaborating across boundaries and helping each other.

Again, all very nice, but at the end of the day, why should people bother to get involved? Especially when at the coal face of our public services, people are working flat out doing at least their own day job – and probably part of someone else’s as well. How on earth are they supposed to have time to collaborate – and online too?

And that’s why I’ve called this blog ‘lost in translation’. Because, somewhere along the line, for some people, the message about what participating in Knowledge Hub can achieve for them has been missed. Perhaps it was never shouted loud enough in the first place.

It’s not just about wasting time having nice conversations with people – it’s about sharing valuable information and advice that you might not find anywhere else. Just imagine if you’re the only person in your organisation carrying out your particular specialist role. Where can you go to get support and learn from those who are more experienced? It’s about facing public service challenges together and supporting each other so that the wheel doesn’t always end up being reinvented (probably for lots of money). And it’s about those sparks of innovation that might really change the way we do things in the future. Let’s face it, unless you’re a genius, you rarely get those moments on your own; you nearly always need someone else to help you formulate something practical.

Don’t get me wrong – I understand what it’s like to feel as though you just really don’t have time, but I have learnt that trying to make sharing second nature as part of the way I work, is far more valuable to me than trying to solve everything myself. I only have to go back to the reason I started using online communities in the first place – to ease an administrative burden on me – to see how much time and effort that first brave step saved me.

So, how can we start convincing people that collaboration is not simply a nice to have; it’s got to become part of the day job? I want us to start shouting loud about what working together with others across organisational and sector boundaries can achieve. I know there are lots of stories with a real outcome in Knowledge Hub and I want to find them – not least because I want to celebrate people’s achievements, but also because I want non-members to know what they’re missing out on. Dimple and Caron are already planning to speak to a number of Knowledge Hub members in detail about their experiences of how online collaboration using Knowledge Hub has really led to change and improvement for them, their group and their organisations. And of course we plan to share these stories back with everyone.

But I’d like to do something a bit more quick and dirty… (no rude comments please!)

I’d like to ask Knowledge Hub members for two favours…

  1. Tell us in a few words – no more than a sentence, but maybe as little as one word, what Knowledge Hub is all about for you. Just add them to a comment on my blog please. (And yes, I know we all have frustrations with the technology from time to time, but if you can raise those in the KHub Connects group rather than here, I’d be grateful.)
  2. If you think you know someone else who might benefit from getting involved with Knowledge Hub, try our new ‘Invite a friend’ tool on your home page. Just stick an email address or several in the boxes and click ‘invite friends’. Simples!

Thanks for reading – and participating!

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