• David Griffiths

KM Insights: Is unplugged connectivity the secret to knowledge sharing and motivation?

Knowledge sharing and motivation blog

Knowledge sharing & motivation | Unplugged Connectivity

This blog is about thinking different. Instead of focusing on knowledge sharing and network connectivity as a technology challenge, think of it as a face-to-face unplugged connectivity challenge.

The ultimate quest for any Knowledge Management programme is influencing people to share knowledge. To achieve this end, Knowledge Managers need to consider what motivates or drives people to want to share knowledge in the first place.

To impact knowledge sharing, to get people motivated to share, you need to start by asking yourself what makes you tick?

Knowledge sharing & motivation | Do you have a Good Life?

If you are an average person, you will spend 90,000 hours at work during your lifetime - that's 1/3 of your life! If you want people to be motivated - driven - to share knowledge, then you need them to be as happy as possible during this time, which means understanding their identity, and what brings them meaning (drive and motivation).

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing (Anne Dillard)

If people are spending so much of life at work, how can you maximise the happiness they derive from it, the feeling of a good life, and how can understanding a good life improve knowledge sharing?

Knowledge sharing & motivation | Harvard University's 'Good Life' study

Fundamentally, a Good Life is a sense of happiness or deep-seated satisfaction with the life you live - a feeling that your needs are being met.

  • 50% of your happiness is determined at birth

  • 10% is dictated by circumstances

  • 40% of your happiness comes from the choices you make

(Lyubomirsky, The Myths of Happiness)

Have you ever asked yourself, what brings you a feeling of happiness or satisfaction with life in general - a Good Life? Because that question is key to motivating people to collaborate - to share knowledge - and is what researchers at Harvard University have attempted to answer over the last 80 years in the Harvard study of Adult Development. The Harvard study found that people at the start of the careers, including Millenials and Gen Z, believe that a Good Life - that sense of needs being met - is reliant on fame, wealth and achievement. However, something changed with time. The study found that these were NOT indicators of a Good Life. Instead, people who leaned into relationships with family, friends and community were more likely to experience a greater sense of good health and wellbeing, and, therefore, the Good Life. Two critical aspects of a 'Good Life' experience that links happiness to longevity were found to be:

  • Connectedness (social interactions) - where social interactions amplify identity and belonging

  • Quality of social interactions - where social connectedness and connectivity increase meaning and achievement

Social connection, therefore, is not only critical to knowledge sharing but also physical health and emotional wellbeing.

A telling study by the University of Michigan showed that lack of social connection is a greater detriment to health than obesity, smoking and high blood pressure. Quality social connection can lead to a 50% increased chance of prolonging your life, strengthening the immune system and helping us recover from disease faster. People who feel more connected to others also have lower rates of anxiety and depression. But keeping people connected doesn’t come without effort, it takes investment of time and energy and sometimes money (if coffees are involved). In other words, unplugged connectivity takes ‘drive’.

Knowledge sharing & motivation | The Good Life needs Drive!

He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how (Nietzsche)

Quality connections with people reinforce your sense of identity, meaning and belonging. Still, your sense of achievement is about something more. That something more is motivation or drive.

Your sense of drive is not about working to live or living to work. Why? Because living a Good Life is intrinsically linked to a sense of Good Work. Think of yourself as an adventurer in a perpetual quest for happiness, where life and work go together like bees and honey.

People who label themselves as motivated tend to be more:

  • engaged

  • involved (collaborative)

  • productive

  • creative

  • happy

More motivated people also have a greater sense of wellbeing, and derive pleasure, an inner glow, from a sense of achievement and flourishing (their needs being met).

Your sense of achievement, and the pleasure it brings, is closely linked to drive and motivation. You can explore what drives you and others by understanding why levels (identity):

  • Level 1 | Individual why: the sense of achievement you get from attaining goals for yourself (e.g. a job promotion)

  • level 2 | Family why: for example, the sense of achievement you get for doing things for your children

  • Level 3 | Community why: the sense of accomplishment you get through connectedness with the world around you - a feeling that your contribution to the world is part of something bigger.

  • Level 4 | Values why: the sense of achievement brought about by an alignment of beliefs, values and standards, bringing you a deep-seated sense of your needs being met - in other words, you are flourishing. (Reivich & Schatte, The Resilience Factor)

Your ability to flourish is closely linked to your sense of why across these four levels. Think of it as an alignment of identity, meaning, belonging and achievement. So, as a Knowledge Manager, ask yourself, what can you do to trigger the happiness benefits found through a higher sense of engagement, involvement, creativity, productivity and wellbeing? If you can do this, you will improve motivation, collaboration and knowledge sharing.

It might be something as simple as replacing screen time with people time or livening up a stale relationship by doing something new together, [such as] long walks... (Robert Waldinger, Director, Harvard Development Study)

Which brings you to the world of ecopsychology, unplugged connectivity and a Good Walk.

Knowledge sharing & motivation | Unplugged connectivity: a Good Walk helps you to find a Good Life One of the best ways to improve motivation and knowledge sharing, with added benefits of improved physical and mental health, and overall wellbeing is to get outside.

A landmark study, involving 20,000 participants, found that people who spent a minimum of 120 minutes engaged green or blue exercise (green spaces - parks etc. - or blue spaces - lakes etc.) felt more healthy and had a stronger feeling of wellbeing. Importantly, people who didn't achieve the 120 minutes of green or blue exercise felt no benefit.

The studies “point in one direction: Nature is not only nice to have, but it’s a have-to-have for physical health and cognitive function.” (Jim Robbins, Yale Environment)

Blue or green exercise is also known to improve motivation, where you experience a sense of connectedness or belonging to something bigger than yourself. But did you know it can improve your ability to learn, and learning is critical to core high-impact KM principles? Studies have found that adults who learn outdoors are more engaged and affected by the experience, feel more self-directed and more competent as a result.

Now consider that studies have linked your cognitive performance to exercise. Harvard Business Review, reporting on studies from Stanford University and Leeds Met found that you can expect the following benefits from a programme of regular exercise:

  • faster learning

  • sharper memory

  • improved concentration

  • prolonged mental stamina

  • enhanced creativity

  • increased productivity

  • smoother interactions with colleagues

  • increased energy levels

  • better time management

  • a feeling of satisfaction at the end of the day - a sense of Good Work

You have already heard that social connections are essential to not only knowledge sharing, but a feeling of a Good Life. Still, there are other benefits, such as mental toughness and resilience. For example, friendship leads us to perceive mountains as less steep. Researchers asked volunteers to meet them at the base of a hill and asked that they either come alone or with a friend. Those who were accompanied by a friend – especially a friend they were close to and knew a long time – judged the hill to be less steep than those who were alone. As a Knowledge Manager, working on unplugged connectivity by taking a Good Walk offers you quality time to build better relationships within your organisation and meet new like-minded people with whom to share you challenges, making them appear less daunting (much like the hill).

If you want to learn more about the links between unplugged connectivity, motivation and knowledge sharing, drop me an email (david@k3cubed.com) You can also take a look at our Good Life+Work project unplugged connectivity tee-shirt collection in our online shop.