Thursday 7 July 2016

Building a body of knowledge

For any tasks or activities or conceptual frameworks which have to last beyond the limits of reliability of the reliability of human memory, you need to start to build a Body of Knowledge. 

Image from wikimedia commons
Using human memory as a long term store of knowledge is a risky strategy. Unless that knowledge is frequently refreshed and discussed within a community of practice, you run the risk of falling foul of the illusion of memory, the illusion of confidence, and the illusion of knowledge. To avoid these risks, an organisation needs to build a shared and documented body of knowledge. #

Wikipedia describes a Body of Knowledge as "the complete set of concepts, terms and activities that make up a professional domain, as defined by the relevant learned society or professional association."  Within an organisation, the "relevant learned society or professional association" is usually the relevant community of practice or community of technical experts.

  • In Shell, the Body of Knowledge is represented by the Shell Wiki and the documents linked from the wiki. 
  • In Pfizer, the Body of Knowledge is summarised and indexed by the Pfizerpedia wiki
  • In DaimlerChrysler it was the EBOK - the Engineering Book of Knowledge
  • In BP it was the Engineering Technical Practices and the accompanying Guidance Notes.

One of the better online examples is the NASA body of knowledge. In fact every technical discipline within NASA has its own body of knowledge. We can see for example

and so on. 

A Body of Knowledge is what we in Knoco call a "Knowledge Asset", and needs to have the following:

If you feel your organisation needs to build a Body of Knowledge, contact us for help and advice. 

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