Monday 29 November 2010

The missing skill in KM

Sometimes knowledge has to be transferred in writing or in a recorded form. Sometimes you need to create a written or recorded Knowledge Asset in order to be able to store knowledge, and to be able to broadcast it widely. And if knowledge is to be transferred effectively in text, then some of the core skills required for this are writing skills.

Now many organisations do not select people for their writing skills. Engineering organisations, sales organisations, manufacturing organisations, do not necessarily select or recruit for skills of journalism, or text-based explanation. Many of the most skilled engineers or salesmen or operators can be fantastic experts, they can have huge quantities of knowledge, but they can lack the skills to pass it onwards effectively in text form. When they write it down, the value is lost. I recall Nancy Dixon coming to review KM at BP a few years ago, for example, and concluding that what BP needed to support KM was more Technical Writers.

If transferring knowledge in writing is an important part of your KM framework, then you either need to develop technical writing skills through training and coaching, or you need to provide technical writing services, almost like in-house journalists, to be able to help transform tacit knowledge into writing without loss of value.

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