Wednesday 21 September 2016

When you need knowledge "just in case" rather than "just in time".

There is a lot to be said for "Just in time" Knowledge Management. However sometimes you need to capture knowledge "just in case"

Image from wikipedia
Often it can be a good principle to drive knowledge management by "knowledge pull".
When people need knowledge, they seek for it and find it. Knowledge is drive by need, and delivered "just in time". Just in time knowledge and knowledge pull is a very efficient approach to KM.

But sometimes, it's just too urgent to "learn before" and to rely on "just in time knowledge".

Imagine a disaster - a fire, or a rail crash, or an accident. Here, time is at a premium. There is no time to pull knowledge, and no time for "just in time". Unless the knowledge is at your fingertips immediately, it will be too late. In cases like this, the knowledge needs to be prepared in advance - just in case it is neeed.

Think about an aircraft that gets into trouble, for example. There is no time for the pilot to get in touch with other pilots and ask them for advice, or to call headquarters and ask what to do. The knowledge has to be prepared in advance, just in case its needed. And for the majority of airline incidents, that knowledge has already been prepared as checklists.

Read this transcript from a cockpit voice recorder (from Atul Gawande's book "the checklist manifesto") and see how the pilots, faced by an emergency situation, reach for their checklist.

BANG (explosive decompression of cargo doors, windows blow out of business class, 9 passengers lost)CAPTAIN “what the f*** was that”FIRST OFFICER “I don’t know”FO “put your mask on, Dave”C “Yeah”FO “Honolulu Center – did you want us to turn left?”RADIO “Continental One Heavy Affirmative”FO “Turning now”C “I can’t get any oxygen”FO “What do you want me to do now?”(Unidentified voice) “F***”FO “You OK?”C “Yeah. You want me to read the checklist?”FO “Yeah, I got it out. When you’re ready”C “Ready”

In a situation like this - when a plane explodes, a train crashes, an oil rig blows out, a factory catches fire - you had better have prepared the knowledge in advance, because there won't be time to "learn before".

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