Wednesday 27 April 2016

When being right is wrong

Sometimes placing value in "being right" can get in the way of learning. 

Being effective in knowledge management requires a degree of humility.

The knowledge management culture change needs everyone to be open to the knowledge of others, and to be open to the possibility (maybe even the probability) that someone else probably knows more about any given topic than you do.  Certainly when you look at the totality of knowledge in a community of practice, that's almost certainly bound to be greater than the knowledge of any given individual.

Therefore any culture that puts store in a person "being right" at the cost of learning more, is a big risk to Knowledge Management.  This is what we describe as the Knower culture, as opposed to the Learner culture.

Even the expert needs to let go of "always being right". The expert needs to realise that although they know a lot, they don't know everything. They need always to be open to learning more. If they think they are always be right, then they are wrong! I have already argued that an expert is a bit of a dying breed; that experts are "dumber than the crowd" in many cases, or dumber than computers in others, and that the expert role is changing.

The role of the expert in KM is not to know everything, and not to be always right, but to be able to access and assimilate new knowledge as quickly as possible, and to be able to reliably assess the impact of new knowledge. They need to know all the context, and to be able to fit new knowledge into it. The expert needs to know that they are not always right - that their knowledge is provisional and partial - but they need to have access to the best provisional knowledge, and to make this available to others.

 The humble, learning and sharing expert is a massive asset in Knowledge Management.

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