Monday, 24 November 2008

Knowledge management analogies & stories Part I

I don't know about you, but I often find that people have a preconcieved notion of what knowledge is, which prevents them from having a useful conversation about how it might be managed. I'm not convinced that it can be "managed" - maybe, using the same differentiation between leading and managing people, knowledge can be "led"? Anyway, the point is, I've been collecting analogies and stories to help me explain what I'm talking about re: KM in general, and to explain why I feel so strongly that tacit knowledge cannot, in essence, be captured (see this post and this post). I thought I'd share some of them with you.

The Salad Analogy - Information & Knowledge & Wisdom
Borrowed from Mr Mike Kelleher, senior consultant at the British Quality Foundation
Information tells us that that red round thing with pips in is a tomato is, knowledge tells us that it is a fruit, wisdom tells us that despite the fact it is a fruit, it doesn't go well in a fruit salad.

The Driving Analogy
Intuitively developed by me despite the fact it's used by many other people...
When you learn to drive a car, you do so by actually driving a car. The theory of road use can be gained from a book, but any real ability to drive is gained by driving. That is the difference between theory (information) and practice (knowledge). However, tacit, intuitive knowledge comes to us when we've had many years of idiot drivers pulling out of the middle lane of the motorway without warning. It's a feeling, a sensation of "better watch that car!" and cannot easily be articulated so that someone else could practice it. However, many frequent and long distance drivers know what I'm talking about...

Teaching by the book
A lovely analogy from Larry Prusak, on his site, tells of how he was once on a baseball team, but "was by far the worst hitter on the team". His father gave him a book on The Art of Hitting. Despite pratically memorising the book, he still couldn't hit. This is, as Prusak says,
"...a story I tell people who insist that knowledge can be codified, that humans are interchangeable. There are still many facets of life and work that are art not science, and wise managers understand how to manage both."

I'll post these as I come across them, and I promise to test them first, after all, it's not just about theory, it's about practice...

1 comment:

F said...

Thanks for these...very useful!