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Knowledge-empowered companies? Together, we can inspire the future.

December 6, 2022

By Carlota Ribeiro Ferreira

Whenever I travel, I take a bunch of papers, magazines or books to stay on top of things that interest me. This weekend I went to visit my eldest son in Groningen, where he studies, and the subject I took with me is a very dear one as it concerns exactly the future of teaching and learning, and more interestingly, how can any entity – company or other – become a knowledge center for its stakeholders, including society at large, and why it matters. And why is this so dear to me? Well, this is not only what I do as a knowledge curator but what I am passionate about doing. And this is what we, at WIN World, do with our clients – assist them in building their knowledge strategy, designing and producing high-impact experiences based on knowledge. The areas of knowledge are immense, the models and formats to explore too. And it pays to be bold and creative because there is service and growing in the journey, individually and collectively. Whether we are in the media industry, health, energy, banking, retail or ceramics. Every company can be an active promoter and facilitator of knowledge, and this empowers everyone.

And there we go: knowledge-empowered companies, as I came up defining these brave organizations. When skills and wills go beyond business, addressing the planet’s most urgent needs and humanity’s most fundamental inspirations, a company finds its purpose and becomes one of the most meaningful movements of our time. And all this really matters. Because if on the one hand, we have global warming putting the planet and populations at risk, natural disasters proliferating, green areas being devastated, the air becoming increasingly polluted, health being based on more volatile variables, inequalities at the starting point imposing disparate and unfair paths of life; on the other hand, we have a greater degree of awareness and knowledge of things, we have science and technology with solutions that allow us to fight some damage and create more efficiency and well-being, we have a society that wants a better and more inclusive future. It happens that this larger society also wants to play a bigger role, and to do so it also needs to be inspired and energized for the mission. And this is where a sense of joint responsibility comes in and the fuller role that companies can play for a fuller existence.

And why does this greater role for companies sound so good to me? As I read in an article this weekend, organizations are often compared to living organisms and just like a living organism their borders with their environment are porous. Well, this great connection with reality infers in the degree of practicality of the knowledge that a company manages to pass on and in the way in which it manages to do it – which is generally also more simple, direct and attractive; easier to touch and involve audiences in a certain field of action. And the fact that corporations are not teaching institutions per se, allows them to be freer and more independent in the formats, being able to assume the modernity of the times, training and inspiring more effectively. From my analysis and experience, and from what we do for and with our clients, a few things I find important to follow while growing a knowledge-empowered company:

Identify the knowledge areas to be explored – one company cannot address all fields adequately, so choosing those truly linked to the industry and business development and those that are of great importance for the development of the stakeholders and of society, can define the horizons of the knowledge territories to be considered. Finding focus on a certain range of subjects is important – deep down we also have to be aware that everything evolves very quickly and that there is a lot of richness in interdisciplinarity, so it is necessary to dare in the frontiers of the areas of study.

Get to know the targets to reach – and what they like and need, understanding in advance that people today love to learn from everywhere, but they have extremely busy lives and their span of attention is quite limited, meaning companies really have to curate great content, sometimes in bite-sized formats, if they want to impact and involve people on their knowledge action.

Find the best knowledge sources, such as researchers, authors, influencers, institutions, universities and media – yes, to do the best job, we really need to be close and collaborate with the best knowledge sources of our fields of interest. And that takes a while to set, it’s a demanding process, in which we have to identify the most complete and credible sources. But from the moment we have a good base of sources in place, things grow organically, and some things lead us to others. It is very important to always keep the circle of credibility as it helps combat the crisis of confidence in sources that has arisen due to the excess, and sometimes underqualified, information in circulation.

Develop bold formats for knowledge-sharing – this means doing the best to expand minds through different and innovative ways. Think about doing a documentary on a deeper and more structuring theme; a series of podcasts for easier and more instantaneous technical topics; a public summit on crucial issues if you want to assume a more aggregating role and with more media attention; a program of digital masterclasses to allow people to learn at their own time and pace; a line of immersive workshops where you can bring knowledge into action in a more participatory way, eventually using VR or AR for truly engaging and appealing experiences. Options are endless and as I’m always saying to my teams, let’s not stick to the obvious, let’s dare in content and format to evoke emotions and better mindsets for learning and interacting.

Create a knowledge center – this is an important step towards placing knowledge at the heart of the organization and as a visible engine for its development and that of those around it. Here, knowledge is centralized, investigated and organized, and from there it is transformed into all those training, inspiring or interactive formats that reach people in an attractive and exciting way – summits, workshops, retreats, masterclasses, videos, videocasts, podcasts, articles, papers, influencers and so on and so forth. Having a knowledge center inhouse, means having an intentional knowledge strategy and a high commitment to inspiring people for the future.

Launch a newsroom – a repository of the various contents that are being created, organized under a certain editorial philosophy that applies to the knowledge disciplines and formats that one decides to embrace. And as a media brand, companies can also make it beautiful and accessible. From the newsroom, we can send newsletters with updates, make posts on social networks, broadcast content in the way we find interesting, scaling the reach. Here’s WIN World Newsroom just to have a look and feel of what can be done as an active hub of content, updated daily.

Understand the powers and the synergies, providing a virtuous and inspiring knowledge cycle across the organization and over time – always allowing us to keep up with times. Ultimately what we need to teach and learn are knowledge, skills and tools, that are relevant in new, changing and unknown contexts. And let’s keep in mind that if on the positive side, knowledge sharing is fundamental for everyone’s empowerment; if we don’t create and share knowledge, we feed a black hole because misinformation and distance from reality are a big risk for development and progress at all levels – individual, organizational, economic and social.

Complex? Not really. The idea is not to make knowledge complex, confusing or frightening. But the opposite. It is to deconstruct it and make it accessible. And if things can start with a deeper reflection, the definition of a strategy and hence a whole plan of concrete actions designed in an integrated way from the start; it can also happen that we start by taking small initiatives that we are sure make sense and from there we create, implement and grow at the same time that we make and feel the way.

I really think that when a company intentionally plays a role as a learning center, providing knowledge and tools to its stakeholders (and again, societies at large if ambition wills), it is also doing its best for its business and growth. We all know the more we teach, the more we have to learn, meaning a whole culture of curiosity and permanent learning flourishes in us and around us.

Also, when companies share knowledge, they extend their influence to broader audiences, and they learn back from more people. As we create moments for joint learning and growth, we set new communication channels with new people and this expands us all. We became more open to listen, learn and grow with others. We grow ourselves, our business, and our brand. And yes, our employer brand too. In such a competitive market in terms of talent attraction and retention, there’s no doubt that by growing a knowledge-empowered company, our influence and magnetism grows.

For all this and much more, I truly believe in knowledge at the heart of organizations, in the creative work of its expressions, in the positive impact on the various stakeholders. Corporations committed on sharing, training, inspiring and mobilizing, are corporations that matter because they energize leaders and teams, individuals and families, students of different ages, other companies and entities, to play a role. And together, we are able to change and inspire the future. At a larger scale, with a greater impact, doing all our best to take the planet and humanity further, leaving no one behind.