07/01/2014 Leave a comment
Anyone who can recall the general knowledge TV quiz game show The Weakest Link will be familiar with the line “you are the weakest link – goodbye”. In essence the quiz centred on the ability of the contestants to correctly answer a number (a chain) of questions, and where an incorrect answer resulted in a break of the chain and the loss of the money accumulated up to that point.
The proverb ‘a chain is as strong as its weakest link’ and the story about the game show are examples that can be used by knowledge managers to help their organisations think about the importance of knowledge flow, and take action to identify and then strengthen ‘weak knowledge links’.
‘Weak knowledge links’ to watch out for include:
- Poor handover practice between steps/stages of a process or project
- A key ‘go to person’ moving to another organisation
- A subject matter expert about to retire
- A lesson documented, but not applied
- Not learning before, whilst, and after doing
- Working practices that do not encourage and support knowledge sharing.
In the game show contestants vote for who they think is the weakest link (or as the game comes to a conclusion, the biggest threat) and the person identified leaves the game. In the context of knowledge flow in an organisation, the existence of a weak knowledge link could result in duplication of effort, repeating mistakes, or the failure to use what the organisation already knows – or perhaps worst of all, the risk of saying “goodbye” to business critical knowledge.