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For Business
December 17, 2013

Three tools and one technique for sharing skills and knowledge

The social dynamics are a pleasure, and the individual expertise on display is second to none.

But how can you go a step further, to build an environment where just being a member of the team improves the performance of the people that comprise it?

The benefits of this kind of pooled experience are numerous. It helps to strengthen team bonds and increase feelings of value and happiness. It also improves the autonomy of each individual, making them more likely to be able to perform tasks without need for assistance as their familiarity with a broader spectrum of work grows. Ultimately, a team where the members teach each other is much more likely to flow than one comprised of isolated expertise-silos.

There are many excellent techniques and tools available that make it easy to share skills and knowledge among colleagues.

Pixar University

One great example of a hugely successful skill sharing initiative can be found at the animation giant, Pixar, with its internal “Pixar University” programme. It offers numerous courses related to filmmaking, the arts, health and more. Anybody that’s interested can attend a session, taking up to four hours of classes each week.

In class, people meet and build relationships with other Pixar employees that they wouldn’t normally meet, building a stronger team and a greater sense of belonging. Receptionists can frequently be seen shoulder-to-shoulder with CxOs, to learn how the character-design department perfects CGI faces, how the marketing team promotes upcoming releases, or even how the in-house caterers bake their own fresh bread on site.

Digital idea exchange

Of course, this technique doesn’t suit every team. If your colleagues frequently work remotely, or are even based in other countries, it can be difficult (or even impossible) to gather together and take part in a learning session.

Fortunately, communication technology provides a wealth of digital alternatives, making it a snap to let your colleagues know what interests you, and learn from them in return.

Nokia Lumia smartphones feature a People Hub, allowing you to group contacts together into ‘rooms’ in order share questions, ideas and pictures in real-time. It’s great for giving a team that isn’t in one location a way to come together, digitally.

For desktop working, Diigo is a beautifully simple web-tool that allows for easy in-browser sharing of interesting and relevant articles, flagging of useful quotes and references in a group space, without the need to clog up your colleagues’ inboxes. When reading an article in-browser, just open the Diigo extension, tag it to a group such as ‘Innovation’ or ‘Design’, and it will automatically be waiting for the rest of your team members when they next log in.

Of course, there will be times when it’s helpful to cast the net even wider. In those instances, you might want to turn to Quora, which uses a social-forum to crowdsource solutions to virtually any problem you might face.

Users simply post their question under the relevant topic, and let experts from that field answer them. The most popular answers get voted to the top through a simple peer-review system, making sure that you don’t get led astray. It couldn’t be easier!

If you’d like to read more about team flow, why not download our free Teams That Flow ebook?

Image credit: Ambernectar13