Although I’ve been in the private sector, I have spent most of my career in the public sector. I am often told that the type of networking that I did while I was in the private sector — sharing best practices even with other organization — was a unicorn, a myth. “Sure, sharing best practices is fine if you’re in the public sector.” Because, COMPETITION.
What? I didn’t say, “share your customer lists” or “send over the major details of your new pharmaceutical patent.”
I just got back from the Cloud Connect China conference. At breakfast, over my Singapore buns and green tea cakes and his bacon and eggs, I met a guy who works in the power generation business. Apparently, the major for-profit power producers in the APAC region take turns hosting a networking conference where they share best practices and hold their suppliers’ feet to the fire. He shared with me how they’ve saved millions by doing crazy stuff that I don’t remember with turbines bigger than my house. None of which would have happened if they didn’t collaborate outside of their organizations.
I understand that you don’t want to give a competitive edge to your competitors. There is loyalty to your company, and there are relationships within your company. But there is also loyalty to your profession, and relationships in your profession. We don’t stay at the same organizations anymore. You hurt yourself and you actually hurt your organization when you don’t share information outside of your organization. Be smart about it, of course.
I saw the HubSpot culture deck this morning, “Creating A Company We Love.” “Power is gained by sharing knowledge.” Right on.
Sharing information is not linear and it is not a zero sum game. When I share with you, at a different organization, you reflect that information back at me, perhaps in an amplified and different way. Said another way, you filter information through your organization’s perceptions and biases. When another person who works elsewhere looks at that, they filter it in a different way based on their perceptions and biases. Somewhere along the line, these filters transform the ideas and sometimes make them better.
Or, your work group could collectively stick its head in the ground and hope that new ideas or innovative approaches just appear without interaction with others. But I kind of doubt that will happen.