Wednesday, 18 November 2015

How KM and continuous improvement work together

Somebody asked me today what the link was between Knowledge Management and Continuous Improvement. I think the answer lies in the diagram shown here.

Diagram from a paper I co-authored
for the Society of Petroleum Engineers
"Implementing a Framework for Knowledge Management"
Continuous improvement (CI) is an attitude and discipline for always seeking to make work better. The Plan Do Check Act cycle is at the heart of CI, sometimes shown as a Plan Do Measure Learn cycle.

Knowledge Management (KM) is an attitude and discipline for organisational learning.  The KM cycle is sometimes expressed as "learn before, during and after"

KM and CI intersect at the Learn step, as shown in the diagram.

The link here between KM and CI emphasises three things.

  •  Learning comes after doing. You need experience from which to learn, and that needs to be either your Doing, or someone else's. 
  • Learning comes after measurement. It is through measurement (of whatever indicators you use to determine success) that you know whether the Doing was successful, and you know what needs to be improved or repeated in future. 
  • Learning comes before planning. Although the Deming cycle is usually described as "Plan-Do-Measure-Learn", it can equally well be described as "Learn-Plan-Do-Measure". Start with the Learn, and Learn before you Plan before you Do.

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