Cronycle’s Crystals are a great way to exchange and grow knowledge within organizations, in a trusted team. Cronycle empowers its users to keep up with fast-changing business environments, whilst continuously developing knowledge and fostering team collaboration. This post describes the value, audience, content and usage of Crystals on boards and how it can mobilize teams.
Why use Crystals to grow knowledge? (and who can do so)
Constant learning is recognized as a key to success in today’s fast changing world. Whilst this may be going well for many individuals, it is significantly harder for organizations. That’s not surprising when considering this definition of “learning organizations”:
“A learning organization is an organization skilled at creating, acquiring, and transferring knowledge, and at modifying its behavior to reflect new knowledge and insights.”David A. Garvin on HBR
Throughout all its steps, collective learning requires better flows of information and general mobilization. Unfortunately, we know from studies (such as this one) that knowledge is often hidden. This is particularly the case if there is a lack of trust between members of this sharing space. This is where many corporate social networks fail. Trusted environments need to be small cells, as described by John Hagel:
“If we are talking about learning in the form of creating new knowledge, deep trust-based relationships are really important. Because that kind of learning involves a lot of failure. And I’m going to be much more willing to fail if I’m in a group that I really trust, versus a group that is maybe out to get me. So, coming together in those small work groups is absolutely critical to accelerating learning. (…) the unit is 5 to 15 people.”John Hagel
This is why we decided to create Crystals on Cronycle boards. They enable teams to mobilize and grow knowledge. Also, boards enable sharing to larger audiences in a controlled manner.
What are Crystals, and what knowledge can they contain?
Our boards are safe places where ad hoc or permanent teams congregate to collectively collect, enrich and filter information. Now, with Crystals, you can also ask questions, hold discussions, answer and help each other. Crystals are the perfect way for teams to explore difficult subject matters, dare to express their lack of knowledge, or answer to a complex problem – ultimately growing shared knowledge.
As the name suggests, a Crystal results from a transformation process – where knowledge crystallizes. The process starts from an initial statement or question, followed by the addition of raw and incomplete information from different contributors. By discussing this information, a small group can assemble, create and capture new knowledge. However, a crystal is fragile, it does require great care from the contributors to fully form (and not melt away).
So we designed crystals primarily as discussions. This format is important to gather information from multiple perspectives, without the writer’s blank page effect one may have on wikis. We even know that individuals share knowledge more easily when they enjoy the sharing process. And people love conversations.
You may argue that this is not very different from messaging apps such as Teams or Slack. That’s only true in the first step of the process – sharing bits of information. The main difference lies over time, in the transformation and retrieval. We are all facing loss of knowledge shared through messaging apps, in the deep depth of conversational noise. Cronycle specializes in organizing, filtering and enriching content, so we built on these capabilities for Crystals.
Like for articles and other content types on boards, you can tag Crystals. You can use these tags later to filter, alone or in combination with other filters. Additionally, you can search terms, and do all this per board or across all boards.
Crystals are also specific to knowledge sharing and growth, a bit like wikis, but without the formality. Finally, links to accessible online content appear as preview tiles so contributors can easily understand what the content is and where it comes from.
How to use Crystals to grow knowledge?
Crystals are available to our Enterprise plan subscribers with both curator and admin roles, whether for companies or networks. Contact us if you want to do a free test period with an Enterprise plan, or book a demo.
Any curator or admin can create their own board and start adding other contributors to participate, making it very easy to create ad hoc teams.
Initiate a Crystal
To start a Crystal, go to a board and start writing the question, problem statement, or subject of wonder in the blue input box.
The original statement is limited in length. Keeping it concise makes it easy to scan when looking at the board. You can always add extra information in a reply afterwards.
In the original statement, you can also add a link to any online article, post, pdf, video, etc. This is optional and you can add additional links in a reply.
Once you post the original statement, the Crystal becomes visible on the board. All board contributors, including yourself, can now reply.
As each person takes part in the discussion with their own replies and references, the team is gradually exchanging & growing knowledge through the Crystal.
When adding a reply, board contributors can type any text, @mentions, and add links. In this case, once a contributor posts a reply, web links appear as tiles, so everyone can easily get an idea of what the it is about.
Like for any other type of board content, board contributors can add tags, upvote or downvote Crystals. The engagement score in the bottom right shows the total amount of actions – replies, tags and votes. Over time, important crystals with rich information will show larger engagement scores.
You can moderate via direct communication, editing and deleting. This is easily feasible in small groups where trust is strong. The person who created the initial statement of the Crystal (the Crystal “owner”) can edit the initial statement or delete the whole Crystal. In this latter case, it permanently deletes all replies and links.
Each contributor can edit their own replies or delete them. The board owner has one extra moderation power – s.he can delete a Crystal s.he does not own. Nobody can edit someone else’s initial statement or reply. After a contributor modifies a reply, the mention “edited” appears in the header. We have the same logic for the initial statement.
With Crystals, we took the best of the wikis and messaging apps to mobilize teams to exchange & grow knowledge. We have ideas on how to continue developing Crystals, and welcome feedback and suggestions!