One way of making the creation of knowledge within an organisation easier is to have multiple people work on the same topic – multiple subject matter experts. Seems like a sound way to speed up the process and reduce everyone’s workload. But how do you make it work?

Can you have multiple subject matter experts share expertise together?

Personally, I think you can. However, you need to follow a few guidelines to make it work.

One topic, one way

The golden rule here is that the expertise being captured or shared must be consistent among the experts. This sounds simple, but its usually the cause of most problems – especially when your subject matter experts may be positioning for leadership or recognition. All the experts must agree that one way is the best and that way will be the basis for the learning topic.

So as a simple starting point, either (a) tell your experts what that way will be and ensure they agree with it or (b) allow your experts to gather and agree upon a set way. There has to be consistency in the information in the topic, so all experts must be sharing and promoting the same knowledge.

One way, one explanation

The other golden rule (!) is that the experts must agree HOW that one agreed way will be explained to other people. Not only must the knowledge be consistent, but the way in which it is explained must be consistent.

This is where something like Tribal Habits really excels as it requires that each topic adopt one structure to share its knowledge – steps, ideas, rules etc… It’s not a matter of a ‘right’ way in sharing the knowledge but in a ‘consistent’ way. So once again, either (a) tell your experts how you want them to explain their knowledge or (b) ensure your experts have agreed a common structure or method to explain their parts of the knowledge.

One way, many parts

Next, carve up the topic into its pieces – rules, steps, parts etc… – and assign them to your experts. Make sure the divisions of each piece are clear so each expert knows where to start and stop in sharing their knowledge. This avoids overlap, confusion and wasted time. So the divisions between each piece must be logical and clear to each of your experts.

One way, two choices

You then have two choices.

  1. Each piece is created in sequence. So the first expert completes their piece before the second expert completes their piece. This reduces risks of overlap and improves consistency. However, it is slower and it means the first expert will set the ‘tone’ for the rest of the topic (so a lot is riding on that first expert).
  2. Each piece is created simultaneously. All experts create their pieces at the same time. This speeds up the overall creation process and creates a bit of energy/competition between the experts, especially if deadlines are set and/or they can view each other’s work-in-progress. By viewing the work of 2-3 other experts, it can provide inspiration for experts who are a bit stuck. But you risk a more disjointed topic with changes in tone and voice.

There’s no right or wrong way. It will depend on why you are involving multiple experts. If it’s a speed issue, then choice 2 is obvious. If not, then consider choice 1.

What do we do at Tribal Habits?

Tribal Habits handles multiple experts easily as a knowledge sharing platform. First, you can have multiple experts enrolled to create or edit any topic. Next, you can either allow the experts to brainstorm the topic outline together or you can dictate the topic outline, structure and pieces in advance. Experts can work on topics simultaneously, editing their piece while reviewing live updates of work being created by other experts. Or you can have one expert finish their piece and then invite the next to continue.