Elizabeth Keserauskis

Building relationships and making connections

Knowledge is Power

You might think this post title indicates prose on the importance of continually educating yourself on changing technology, your customer behavior and trends, and other marketing speak. On the contrary, this post is about the importance of institutional climate and culture, and specifically the importance of internal communication at an organization.

Have you ever been in a workplace where people flaunt the fact that they have knowledge about a topic, new process, upcoming change, etc? Rather than taking the opportunity to educate others, build consensus for the direction of the company, and overall support the mission, people tend to “collect” knowledge as people in medieval times collected property, slaves, etc to show their wealth, position and power. While my life experience is relatively average, I believe this is more rampant in higher education than in any other sector. I also believe that higher education places less emphasis on the importance of an internal communication strategy than other companies. Perhaps the decentralized nature of the typical higher education structure fosters this.

While I spent a good two days stewing over my recent specific experiences with this “knowledge is power” phenomenon, my take-away (or “aha” moment or life lesson or silver lining, blah blah blah) from this is that I need to circle my communication wagons and rejuvenate my push for a more robust, comprehensive internal communication strategy for the institution. I am going to stop wishing that people would just “get it” and stop collecting knowledge as power. Since I obviously have no control over that, I’ll focus on that which I can control (and happen to be good at)–communication.

Any suggestions for how other institutions help proportionately allocate/expend resources on internal communications?? Any help is welcome!!!

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February 10, 2011 - Posted by | communication, connecting, higher education | , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. If I had to identify the reason and the problem I would call it competition. If every department was appreciated and treated with equal consideration this probably wouldn’t be a problem. If you can convince every department that they are all a part of the same mission, and then get them to also appreciate and feel connected with the goals of that mission then I feel people would be more willing to share their knowledge for the betterment of the institution. Also consider making the institution’s goals more specific. I am all for achieving excellence, but are there specific goals each year at the institution?
    Just a thought: Maybe make it part of the institution’s mission to innovate. If we truly want to compete, why don’t we create the competition? If this was part of the mission and was expected by each department to put forward new ideas, you could have an online bulletin board of sorts that would allow people to put their opinions and ideas towards problems that exist in the institution. Another possible way to accomplish the sharing and collecting of knowledge would be to set up a mentor program with students. Similar to the take your professor to lunch program, have faculty meet with students to discuss current institution obstacles and possible solutions. After the lunches they could post to the online bulletin board or a place where they could share their thoughts. The connection between students and faculty will strengthen the unity in the organization and allow students to feel they are being included. Let’s not forget my favorite aspect of all; the publicity the institution would gain for innovating and going beyond what other institutions do would be very beneficial to the reputation and image of the institution.

    Comment by felix0826 | January 16, 2012 | Reply

  2. Thanks Felix. If it was truly a competition for resources driving this, I might agree with the appreciation and consideration example. Additionally, each “head of the department” or dean, director, etc at a higher ed institution, is responsible for helping their team understand their role in the greater mission/purpose of the organization. Admittedly, internal communication is lacking at most organizations, and higher education is probably even worse than average. Thanks for the feedback!

    Comment by Elizabeth Keserauskis | February 7, 2012 | Reply


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