by Simon Terry
“What we learn from experience is stored, not in the form of answers, but in bits and pieces of the experience we have accumulated, sometimes over years. What we think of as tacit knowledge is really the human ability to draw on our past experiences to respond to new problems or questions.” (Nancy Dixon)
Much of our working life is obsessed with preventing the death of knowledge. Many of the practices of our working life accelerate the loss of knowledge.
Is your knowledge alive?
Organisations are haunted by the idea “if only we knew what we know”. We invest huge amounts in capturing, cataloguing and storing knowledge but still knowledge dies at an alarming rate. This occurs because too often knowledge is divorced from very human experiences, treated as something independent of its authors and stored in a static form. In this way knowledge is often allowed to die by never seeing use again, despite the effort invested in its creation & storage. Knowledge that stops moving among people is dead.
Too often this dead “knowledge” is well and truly buried on a private hard drive or in hard to search paper files, quietly lost to everyone. Some of this dead knowledge is in the heads of employees whose tacit knowledge may never be known or called into action.
We can bring our knowledge to life by treating it as a flow. We can bring it to life by creating ways for people to engage with it again, use it in some new way and create a new memorable experience. Our efforts to put knowledge into flight again create the experiences that enable us to remember better, develop the knowledge, keep it current and continue to use it. The best of these experiences enable many people to openly engage with knowledge, creating a collaborative learning environment where knowledge is shared and grows for a group. In these experiences, knowledge in flight can interact to create new hybrids.
Creating new conversations around knowledge will generate narratives and stories to fly that knowledge into the future. Relevant knowledge in your stores will get swept up into these conversations bringing them back to life and meaning again. An enterprise social network is an ideal place to generate a new conversation, to share it with many others, putting knowledge back into flight.
In my talk at DISRUPT.SYDNEY, I will explore these concepts in the context of organisational silos and how we can create a more vibrant knowledge culture in our organisations.