Tuesday, 22 February 2011
One of the biggest challenges in working with knowledge is that it is invisible.
Nobody can tell what you know by looking at you, and nobody can tell what you need to know either, just by looking at you. Two people can pass each other in a corridor, one of whom possesses the solution to a problem that is taxing the other out of their mind, and they don't even realise the need to talk, because the knowledge and its need are invisible.
I have been in a number of settings where we have made the knowledge visible, and also where we have made the knowledge gaps- the questions - visible. In a setting like this you can just watch the interactions start to happen.
One was in a conference, where we asked people to write, on their name badge, an issue or problem that was taxing them. Then, as people circulated for coffee, others who had ideas or solutions to the problem could introduce themselves, and knowledge exchange could start.
Mars did a similar exercise, using electronic tags which lit up when someone with similar knowledge or interests came near.
Then we have done Knowledge Markets, where people host a poster listing their knowledge issues and their knowledge offers, and others circulate, looking for answers to their problems and problems they can answer.
The ultimate vision will be to introduce a system at work where both knowledge and questions are visible. The first would be a yellow pages system, where people can identify what they know, and where you can conduct searches based on knowledge. The second would be a system of broadcasting questions, such as a Q&A forum, or using Social Networking status labels. In Knoco we use Yammer as a way to tap into the knowledge of our world-wide colleagues.
The more we can make the knowledge visible, and make the questions, or knowledge gaps, visble, the more we can put people together with others to improve knowledge transfer and solve problems.