You’ve probably heard the old question, “If a tree falls in a forest but no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?” (This famous thought experiment is attributed to George Berkeley, an 18th century philosopher, although those words are not his.) It’s a question that has prompted a lot of debate over the years; however, I’m much more interested in how you would answer a different question:
If a person has valuable knowledge and experience but no one else knows about them, is value lost?
It’s an important question, because Koch Industries has more than 120,000 employees worldwide who help us conduct business in at least 70 countries. Ours is not just a big workforce, it is a tremendously diverse group of people, all of whom have the potential to make a significant difference thanks to their varied experience.
But your potential to contribute and your ability to self-actualize will be unnecessarily limited if others in the company don’t know about your capabilities. That’s one of the reasons we created EverLearn. We wanted a more effective tool for sharing knowledge, building knowledge networks, improving communication and connections, and enabling people to make a bigger difference across all of Koch, regardless of role, company, location or tenure.
EverLearn reflects our Republic of Science model, which calls for all our employees and groups to share knowledge and help each other for the benefit of KII as a whole. The more we share and collaborate, the more innovations we will create, enabling us to succeed and self-actualize.
As you will read in the following pages, our results from EverLearn during its first year have already been impressive. But we can do better — much better. If you haven’t yet, I want each of you to make a point of building a strong profile on EverLearn.
When you add specific information to your profile — such as details about your areas of expertise, capabilities, background, interests and unique experiences — you make it possible for us to multiply the value of your expertise exponentially.
Building and maintaining knowledge networks outside our corporate walls is also vital. As I wrote in “Good Profit” six years ago: “A company must develop effective external networks to monitor ongoing changes in technology, methods, markets, politics, strategies, and people’s values.” Those who tend to work in silos and fail to learn new concepts — not just from outside Koch but from outside their own company or capability — are unlikely to make significant new contributions.
I look forward to seeing how you will use EverLearn to benefit the company and further realize your potential.