In this short but important TED talk (The Military Case for Sharing Knowledge), General Stanley McChrystal challenges a paradigm that displays itself not only in the military, but in organizations of every type. As change practitioners, one of the more frequent tests that we face is the siloed nature of our clients. Knowledge is power echoes from top to bottom of each silo, but the walls tend to be impermeable. It is possible that it even echoes within the change teams we are a part of as well.

McChrystal tells the story of capturing classified information on the battlegrounds of Iraq, and the decision that drove a culture shift from knowledge is power to sharing is power. “We had to change the culture of information…from ‘Who needs to know?’ to ‘Who doesn’t know?’ and tell them as quickly as possible.

Why was this shift so important on the battlefields of Iraq? McChrystal states it this way. “Information is only valuable if you give it to people who have the ability to do something with it.”

How important is it that your clients shift their culture regarding silos and the sharing of information? How important is it that you and your change team do likewise with others who are engaged in supporting and executing the initiatives that you are engaged on?