Protecting Your Empire and Shortermism

bookshelf-29811_640Followers of the blog know that I’m far from being an expert at APEX, but I recently did an APEX presentation at work. As a follow-up I sent out an email with a bunch of links to online tutorials, YouTube playlists and documentation etc. One of my colleagues replied saying,

“It’s really wonderful having someone so knowledgeable who actually shares knowledge here as well as at these conferences !!!”

I was thinking about that comment this morning and it raised two questions in my mind.

  1. Do any people contribute to the online community and present at conferences, but not do knowledge spreading in their company?
  2. Does anyone still believe that withholding information for the purposes of protecting your own little empire is a successful strategy these days?

Regarding the first question, I think it would be pretty sad if people are doing knowledge spreading in the community, but not giving their colleagues the benefit of their experience. At minimum they could be pointing their colleagues to their community work, but it would be better if they could personalise it for their colleagues. In the case of my recent presentation, I used applications from work in my demos that I would never show at a conference. I think that helps put things into context.

The answer to the second question interests me a lot more. When I started in IT the internet as we know now didn’t exist. The only way to learn anything was using the manuals (typically out of date paper copies) or asking a colleague. At that point it was possible for people to protect their empire by hiding information, which I saw happen many times. Typically the people who did this were despised. What’s more, at the first opportunity they would be cut out of the mix for future projects, for fear of them expanding their empire of secrecy.

Fast forward to today and I can Google just about anything. The only thing you could possibly try to hide from me is company-specific information, but if your company allows you to do this they are fools.

Trying to protect your empire by hiding information stinks of shortermism. You may be successful in the short term, fooling people into believing you are indispensable, but in the long term they will realise what you are doing and you will fail. I’ve never been in a position where knowledge spreading and being open with information has lead to a negative result. Theoretically it makes you easier to replace, but in practice that is not the case. It allows people to see what you are doing, what else you are capable of doing and that you are not the sort of dick that will try to hold the company to ransom in the future.



PS. Please don’t ask me questions about APEX. I’m rubbish at it and I’m just going to point you to the OTN APEX Forum where the real experts play.