Wednesday 5 May 2010

Facilitating internalisation

Originally uploaded by eflon
Of all the steps in the SECI model proposed by Nonaka and Takeuchi (which we all know is not the only model in KM, but is still a good one), the most poorly documented step is internalisation.

We all know about Socialisation, the use of social structures such as Communities of Practice, and the use of social software.

We all know about Externalisation, and the use of dialogue-based techniques such as After Action Reviews and Retrospects to enable teams to externalise and capture deep Knowledge.

We all know about Combination, and how eternalised and/or captured knowledge can be combined into new forms, and organised and sorted and sifted using wikis (for example), and how processes such as Knowledge Exchange can combine knowledge from many sources.

But how much do we know about internalisation, especially the internalisation of captured and documented knowledge?

I often think we assume that people will just naturally do this for themselves, and read some lesson, or guideline, or set of tips and hints, and do all the internalisation naturally, without any help. And yet this is the part where KM approaches so often fail - the externalised and documented knowledge seldom gets passed forward into action.

Last week I wrote my post about the four facilitative roles in KM, it was easy to identify the roles that facilitate socialisation (the community facilitators, the contact brokers), the roles that facilitate externalisation (the facilitators of the After Action Reviews and Retrospects) and the roles that facilitate combination (the content owners, the process owners, the content managers.

But who facilitates internalisation?

This was brought back to me again recently in our famous Bird Island exercise, where instead of giving people the Knowledge Asset to read, we talk them through it, and emphasise the key points, and tell them what to consider, and what the impact will be to them. This is a key part of helping them internalise the knowledge. And yet do we ever do this at work?

In the Military sector, they do. They do it through exercises and training. Any update in doctrine - any new knowledge from the front line - is immediately incorporated into training and exercises. The trainers help the troops internalise the learning, often with post-training after action reviews.

In the oil sector, they sometimes do this. Through toolbox talks, pre-shift meetings and other briefings, new process knowledge and new safety knowledge is discussed and internalised before work starts. WHoever leads the talk, has a role to help people internalise.

But does this happen elsewhere? Does anyone else know of any examples of the facilitation of externalisation?

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