Business & Technology Nexus

Dave Stephens on technology and business trends

5-Time Team MVP….

with 3 comments

Who are your MVP employees? Many managers would say that the most important person on the team is the one that holds the most information or knowledge. As a product manager, I knew that Person A could be counted on to know everything about Product whenever I got a tough question, I knew I could go to Person A if necessary. Person A was indispensible.

But nowadays, walking encyclopedias seem a lot less desirable. In fact, I now realize that Person A was holding back progress and operational efficiency of the team. Our new employee MVP’s are people that share, not hold, the most information. And we need systems, processes and rewards that recognize this shift – ones that encourage, support and value sharing.

I’ve been at companies, big and small. Accomplishing work always involved finding your way to the key information, or better said, finding your way to the key people. It’s never been easy. For example, I was talking to my friend who works at a major consumer electronics firm. His team sets the price for one of their key product lines. When he joined, he was frustrated with the friction to share within his own group. It’s not that his colleagues weren’t willing to share when approached, but he had to do all the leg work, hunting, etc. Naturally, his ramp-up time was slower than it should be.

But beyond his immediate group he was even more frustrated by the lack of infrastructure to support sharing among the different pricing teams at the firm. If he had to build a model to reflect competitive price factors, his manager told him to try to get a meeting with Person X over in this other group. Maybe you got the meeting, maybe not. Person X seemed to be the competitive pricing guru, but her methods were her own. Next maybe it was a promotional pricing model…and he had to find out who to talk to for that. You get the idea.

The company was in the midst of rolling out a new software application for price modeling. But even this failed to address the information sharing problem. If anything, it further fragmented knowledge in the company.

Why was it so hard to proactively share information? To start with, we don’t give bonuses or other rewards to “sharers”. We also fail to make it easy enough to share. Putting together an internal website for your team is useful, but enough of a headache to maintain that they more often than not turn stale. And of course a website is for information broadcasting more than information sharing and improvement. Now, technologies like Wikis are definitely helping but there are limitations.
One of the biggest problems is that the ability to share, search and retrieve knowledge is absent from the core applications that we work on. Sharing systems, when glued on to the real systems in which you do work, can only go so far.

Enterprise systems must evolve to handle information sharing much better in the coming years. In Procurement in particular, there are golden opportunities to improve the level of sharing with the procurement group, with related teams (ie., finance, legal) and most importantly with the end-users that they are serving. So get ready to use the lessons you learned way, way back when you were a kid. Because sharing what you know is more valuable to your company than being a know-it-all.


Written by Noah Eisner

07/5/06 10:21 AM at 10:21 am

Posted in Opinion

3 Responses

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  1. MVPs are those who have wisdom/intelligence to use the knowledge. Not just those who have knowledge or can share it.


    07/5/06 6:08 PM at 6:08 pm

  2. I think you are right that A-players are the ones are that know how to apply knowledge to make a difference. But too often the purpose is to get the work done for you/your team solely. It doesn’t tend to build the collective capabilities of the organization. We all know that not everyone is an A-player (unless you grade on an easy curve), so how do we make the majority of the organization more productive? In my opinion, this is where sharing can play an important role.


    07/5/06 7:50 PM at 7:50 pm

  3. Sharing is fine but A-players are typically the ones who are accountible for the job getting done. So they have to know. Sharing that knowledge can be a challenge, especially on a disfunctional team, which does not have a process for sharing the knowledge. And also, quite often there is nobody able or interested to accept the knowledge from the A-players.


    PS: It is great to see another enterprise application blog out there! Keep up the good work!

    Marian Crkon

    07/9/06 9:29 AM at 9:29 am

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