Thursday 22 June 2017

KM as distillation

I heard a useful metaphor last week - Knowledge Management as distillation.

Image from wikimedia commons
Knowledge is involved in almost everything we do at work, and the work products we create contain the outworkings of that knowledge. However just collecting work products is not Knowledge Management, as that knowledge is scattered and diffused across so many documents.

Similarly connecting people is not enough, as the knowledge remains scattered across many heads.

When the knowledge is scattered like this, then every knowledge seeker must do the same task of sifting, sorting and distilling out the knowledge. With commonly-used knowledge, this is wasteful, and it is better if someone (a subject matter expert or a community of practice) does the distillation in advance.

Distillation of knowledge could include:
  • Looking through community discussions, and drawing out the conclusions
  • Reviewing multiple proposals and compiling the best and most successful bits of each
  • Searching a collection of Lessons and turning them into guidance or checklists
  • Comparing many version of templates and finding the best
  • Holding a knowledge exchange to compare multiple practices and co-create the best
Providing such a distilled knowledge product is far more useful than expecting people to search through multiple sources every time they need guidance.

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