Sharing is a very critical issue as it refers to Knowledge Transfer. There are too many times when consultants don’t share their knowledge or expect to be so knowledgeable that there isn’t anything left to learn. That hurts the clients for a number of reasons:
1. It belittles their own employees. You were hired to HELP, not intimidate. Now that’s for consultants. If someone hires you to do a job, that’s a different story. I want you to renovate my kitchen. That’s a different scenario.
2. It creates a glass house for consultants. With few niche areas, it is impossible for one person to be aware of everything. By not sharing your knowledge and showing that you are continually learning, you show that you are not a one-trick pony. You are infallible and great ideas come from different sources.
3. High and dry. Imagine buying a new appliance but without instructions or getting a car without a manual. If you aren’t providing solid knowledge transfer, then you’ve effectively not completed the job.
When I started in the industry, knowledge transfer with clients relied primarily on written documentation. YouTube certainly didn’t exist (at least as a business avenue) but even video wasn’t used that heavily. Even at developer conferences, while speakers made topics come alive, it was the accompanying materials that helped ensure attendees could act on what they had just seen. Magazines also provided more details on how to best use a product with tips and tricks. I’ve been fortunate enough to do all of the above. I’ve been speaking at developer conferences since the mid 90s. Writing for FoxPro Advisor in the 90s-2000s honed my writing even further, working with editors and bringing new technologies to a large audience on a monthly basis. The downside of this emphasis on written was that in tech, very few topics or even products stay evergreen. Each new version of a product or project required brand new documentation which never built on previous versions.
Fast forward thirty years, written documentation isn’t as conspicuous as it once was. Developer conferences don’t print materials – you download the PDFs. Information also takes the form of online articles, blogs and wikis. Conference sessions are streamed and can be viewed multiple times well after they were first presented. Videos, whether they be on public display via YouTube, or intranets. Wikis keep things fresh (as long as they are updated regularly) but they also allow others to get involved. AKSEL has been working with video for over twenty years, building everything from screen walkthroughs to animated online video. Our videos have been published on YouTube but also used internally for training clients on using products and ensuring new developers are brought up to speed as quickly as possible. These videos were further enhanced through SCORM quizzes. It may seem a bit strange to include a quiz in training videos but it serves as a way to ensure everyone is understanding what is being done.
Regardless of the medium, a consultant who doesn’t share their knowledge and encourage sharing on their own is hurting not just their clients but also their own reputation. Many of the developers you see on YouTube embrace that – it’s the learn in public strategy. You can google this term – in fact, there’s the link. I’m used to putting direct links in my posts – but many posts end up being dead links. That can be frustrating – so the Google link will give lots of choices. For developers though? Here’s an entire site dedicated to coding in public.
But the best part about sharing? It’s when you see clients start creating materials on their own and embracing sharing for themselves.