Saturday 30 May 2009

Knowledge Management vision

Holga Telescope Cliche
Originally uploaded by boliston

I was giving a training course yesterday in Stockholm, and almost as an afterthought, when debriefing the Bird Island game, I mentioned Lord Browne's vision for knowledge management, which we used extensively within BP, and which he mentions in his article "unleashing the power of learning" (a fantastic article, well worth the download fee, and still fresh after more than a decade).

His vision was as follows

“Most activities or tasks are not onetime events. Our philosophy is fairly simple:
Every time we do something again, we should do it better than the last time

One of the participants came up to me afterwards, and said that this had been an "Aha!" moment for him, and that this simple vision had graphically linked KM and business value.

It reminded me again of how powerful this particular vision is. It is something everyone can buy into - nobody wants to do things worse than the last time! - but it carries significant implications about KM. Because, to do things better than last time, we need to know HOW it was done last time, WHAT was identified last time as improvement opportunities, and HOW these opportunities can be put into effect. We need a complete set of knowledge from "the last time", then we need to innovate beyond this if necessary. And don't forget - "the last time" may have been in another country, or done by another team, or done several years ago.

So there needs to be a system of identifying new knowledge and new lessons as part of activity, and there needs to be a system of carrying this new knowledge and new lessons forward to new activity, and there needs to be ways and means of assessing these and looking for further innovations and improvement opportunities, and there there needs to be a system of performance metrics behind all this. That's what will drive down the learning curve.

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