Tom Bertels writes:
>I think the aversion towards sharing information is learned. This may be
>rooted in the power knowledge gives to the knowledge owner (whe you refer
>to Machiavelli's "Il principe" or even older Sunzi's "The art of war". I
>think the invention of writing and specially the inention of bookprinting
>developed it further on. To know something which another one does not know
>makes you superior and gives you power. I think possessing power is one of
>the fundamental wishes of people. The only way to overcome this is to make
>people learn that the power of a team which shares knowledge is much
>bigger than the individual power of every single person.
Perhaps it is a fundamental wish of people to have power, but any power
that we have is because it is given to us by other people. In other words
I have power over you only if you give me that power or vice versa. I
believe that you or anyone would only do that if you thought it was in
your best interest for me to have power over you. Realizing that, I
better do things that will make you want me to continue to have power,
which, for me, means I better be doing a good job of looking out for our
mutual interests and that of the organization we're part of. If I don't,
you can be absolutely sure I will lose whatever power I have sooner or
later because it will no longer be in anyone's interest for me to have it.
Shrot term, all that information hoarding may seem to work, but time after
time we see that it eventually fails.
The irony of power is that by sharing it, you maintain it. The more you
make people feel good about themselves because you make it possible for
them to perform very well (by sharing information, etc.) the more they
will want to retain your power and authority.
In the long-term, hoarding information, being secretive, and so on is
really the formula for losing power, not to mention formenting mediocrity
and all the other stuff that can make organizations the unhappy abode of
Finally, consider this other little irony of power from a parent's
perspective: As soon as you tell your kids what not to do, you have given
them the exact information they need to control you.
-- John Woods email@example.com