Friday, 18 September 2015

Telling vs "finding out" in knowledge management

When it comes to transferring practices, people are more receptive to knowledge they discover for themselves, rather than being told by someone else.

As an example, imagine staff in a hospital have developed an improved process for patient administration. This could be shared by hospital management in one of two ways.

Firstly the hospital managers could publish this to their patient admin staff as an example of good practice. My guess is that the rate of take-up will be low.

Secondly they could say to their staff "these people seem to have found a way to solve some of the problems we are having. Go and find out how they are doing it, and come back to me with some things we need to change".

The first option is Knowledge Push, which often meets the brick wall of "not invented here". The second is Knowledge Pull, where the knowledge receiver plays an active "investigator" role rather than a passive "copier" role.

The second is reminiscent of the Toyota principle of "Genchi Genbutsu", translated as "go and see".  This is the principle that if you really want to learn something, you need to go and see, and not wait to be told.

What this allows, is the pleasure of discovery.

If you want to transfer best practices, encourage people to discover them, don't force-feed them.

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