ConocoPhillips’ intranet culture: ask questions, don’t hoard answers

Its management sets the tone for its internal community, which is full of people unafraid to say they need help or can offer it.

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“It’s not about the technology or the version or the whiz-bang,” Dan Ranta, director of knowledge sharing at the company, told the panel on this month’s IBF Live broadcast. “What we’re focused on is the behavior.”

The behavior that ConocoPhillips is looking for is a bit unconventional for a huge company where people are assigned complex, technical tasks. What it’s looking for are people who can admit not knowing something.

“Demonstrating vulnerability—it’s really positive behavior,” Ranta said.

ConocoPhillips’ executives lead by example, he said, encouraging employees to seek out “the power of many.”

Bill Ives, partner at Merced Group, said, “You’ve got to be able to promote that culture of asking questions, not just hoarding answers.”

ConocoPhillips has also been giving employees incentives for collaborating since the inception of its knowledge sharing program, Ranta said, linking participation with its bonus structure. “We’re the only company I’ve heard … that has taken this direct step,” he said.

The company also has an annual awards program for outstanding collaborators.

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