Friday, 22 July 2011

"I don't know, I'll create" vs "I don't know, I'll ask"

DunnoWhat do you do if you don't know what to do?

Do you ask for help and advice, or do you make it up as you go along - invent something, be creative?

Answer my poll on the right, and lets see which is the more popular approach.

That's the core tension in KM - creation or re-use. Creation in the wrong place is called re-inventing the wheel. Re-use in the wrong place is called flogging a dead horse.

Part of our job as KM professionals is to drive the following behaviour.

  • If you don't know what to do, then firstly find out whether a solution already exists that meets your needs, and if it does, then follow it. 
  • It there is a solution than nearly meets your needs, adapt and improve it, then share your improved version.
  • If there is no solution, then be creative. Create a solution. Then share your solution.


tisonlyme said...

I have to say, I voted...and voted for the 'seek the existing solution' option.

Having said that, I think there comes a time when you need to get on and do something. You can spend a lot of time seeking, be it through formal research or asking questions of your network but of your network is too small or made up of the 'wrong' people or your research is misdirected, that time can be wasted. Sometimes you probably need to cut your losses and do something.

Unfortunately though, the doing something yourself is often the start point rather than a point you reach in 'good time'

Mark (@Mark_Harbor)

Gerald Meinert said...

Often and effecient and effective solution comes from the combination of both approaches.


Mark Gould said...

This is a really interesting question, but I don't think there will be a consistent answer.

There are all sorts of situations where people face a problem and they have no personal knowledge of how to proceed. In some situations, the obvious choice (for them) will be to look for an existing solution. If, for example, I needed to change the engine in my VW Beetle (as I did 23 years ago), I would not start from scratch. Instead, I would (as any self-respecting Beetle-owner should) open my copy of John Muir's fine book "How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive".

On the other hand, as someone who is experienced in my field, I can spot quite quickly when I face a problem that doesn't have a clear existing solution. That is when creativity is absolutely necessary.

However, what can happen is that people may (consciously or not) consider themselves to fit firmly in one or other of the preferred categories. So whilst I absolutely agree with your three-point description of good knowledge behaviour, I think the real stumbling block is to get people to be realistic in their assessment of the kind of problem they face. (I think the Dunning–Kruger effect is absolutely relevant here.)

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