Socialize your findings!

Chances are high that you have some tool to remember the things you stumble upon, be it blog posts, tweets, news articles, infographics, and more. Having such a tool gives you the confidence that you will be able to retrieve interesting items later when you need to get back to them.

It's also quite likely that while at work, you have some way to tell others about what you think is important. You forward some snippet of information to your co-workers or project partners, because you think it will be valuable not only for you but also for them, and you like to help them make their job. In a sense, you socialize the information: you turn a blog post or a Web page into something that people will start thinking and talking about. It turns from an anonymous document on the Web into a common ground for discussion, a seed for creativity, or something to give a good laugh at. It turns from data to information. And information is always a good reason for people to come together.

But wait, how do you do this? Do you send emails to groups of people and hope they'll read them — or even respond to it? Do you upload documents to some file share — and hope that someone, someday will discover it while searching for something completely different? Do you tweet or post to Facebook — without having a chance to point exactly those people who you think might be interested to your snippet?

To effectively socialize your information, it's quite important that this is done timely: information that is important today will probably be of much less relevance in a few days. So, you will want your team to be aware of your input as quickly as possible (but, of course, without distracting them too much — they already have too much to do). On the other hand, it's crucial that shared information does not get lost: a long-term memory will help you and your teammates to build up deep expertise and wide knowledge about a topic, and it will save you much work when you later need access to your thoughts from the past. In the end, this is how effective information sharing in a team looks like:

  • information is shared in a timely but unobtrusive way;
  • shared things are delivered to the people who actually can benefit from it;
  • sharing drives social communication and joint thinking about information;
  • socializing information starts a process of sharing thoughts and mindsets, both online and offline;
  • shared things go into a long-term memory that digs out stuff from the past in the right moment.

So, think about it: how well do the tools that you currently use support these requirements? Do you have means to quickly share what happens without annoying your team members? Do you have a place where your colleagues can meet, discuss, and follow-up on the things you (and they) share? Do you have a tool that remembers stuff that came up in the past and that helps you doing things now? If your answer to one of these questions is "no", then you should seriously start thinking about re-framing the way you deal with what you find interesting, because you may waste lots of time and potential at the moment.