Blogging as a way to “capture” tacit knowledge – a twist

In my last post I put down some thoughts about how blogs could be used as a form of tacit knowledge capture since it documents the thought process in the development of many different ideas, many times in pursuit of a “finished” product. Catching up (who am I kidding? I’ll never catch up) with my reading this evening I found Knowledge Jolt with Jack: Your blogging obligaton, which in turn pointed to Mospos: Blogging to become legal obligation?.

A couple of key quotes:

the starting point is that «knowledge belongs to the company». If I understood correctly, this means that a recruited employee should specifically state the different aspects of the experience he brings to the company within the knowledge domain he was hired for and then relinquish all rights to the knowledge developed thereafter in this domain, whether explicit or not (a.k.a. «background information» in joint ventures). If the employee happens to leave the company to work elsewhere, he can be exposed to legal action if he is found to be using any form of knowledge acquired in the previous company, whether explicit or tacit.

On a practical note, this has quite simple implications. Let’s ask ourselves what happens when an employee leaves a company to develop his ideas in another one. Well, if it is proven that he withheld information from his former employer to do that, he should be sued. But if he had this great idea and shared it in the company, but nobody cared (happens all the time!), is there a good reason why he shouldn’t be allowed to leave and maybe start a company with this idea?

In the end, it might well be that the best interest for both parties is to have every employee keep written logs –one per community- of everything they do. The employee can then use the blog records to prove that he did not withhold information from the company. If he cannot, well, too bad for him.

Aside from this one aspect of knowledge in companies, the post has analysis of the whole concept of who owns knowledge in a company, how/if it should be controlled, etc. The implications of this specific case is unique (for now) to France, but is good food for thought for anyone interested in these questions.