20/02/2013 Leave a comment
Identifying, sharing and embedding good practice and learning into everyday organisational processes is a core knowledge management activity. There are many approaches to so doing, but all are underpinned by the belief that, as Paul Miller puts it in the introduction to his book Mobilising the Power of What You Know, “on any given day, in a large organisation, there are many people working on the same problem – duplicating work, re-inventing the wheel or, worst of all, failing to use what the organisation already knows. If only we could harness it all…” (There are a number of books on knowledge management listed on this site for your information.)
One of the barriers to embedding good practice and learning is the organisational push-back of ‘not invented here’, i.e. this is not our learning; not our good practice; and in any event, our context is different! Sometimes this barrier can be raised further if the practice is positioned as ‘best’.
That said, in any organisation there are aspects of work activity that are ‘common’ and where business benefit (effectiveness and efficiency) can be gained through the use and adoption of good practice. One of the skills a knowledge manager requires is to know where and when to apply good practice, and where and when business or operational variation dictates that other approaches are required.
For me this challenge can be described in terms of ‘levels of connectedness’. That is to say, when should your knowledge management effort and energy be made trying to join up and connect parts (processes; activities; functions) of an organisation, and when should they be ‘left alone’ and dealt with in a different way.
The challenge of ‘levels of connectedness’ is often impacted by a change in technology – a change which makes that which has gone before less necessary or redundant, or which requires radical change for it (the technology) to be of use.
One such example (and a good change/knowledge management related story to boot!) is that of the railways and of the need to establish standard time and time zones in order that the railway system could operate and function (for the benefit of passengers) effectively and efficiently. This story is taken up in a Lessons Worth Sharing video clip from TEDEd.
What are the ‘standard time and time zone’ equivalent examples that require change and improved levels of connectedness in your organisation? It is likely that these are the places where the identification, sharing and embedding of good practice will have the most beneficial impact.