Thursday 28 June 2018

Knowledge visits- think like a spy, not a tourist

Knowledge Visits are a great way to learn things if the mindset is right; treat them as if it was industrial espionage.

Image from wikimedia commons
A knowledge visit is a great idea - a team goes to visit another company or another team, sees the way they work, and picks up some new ideas and new tips and hints.  It's fun, it's interesting, it's "time out of the office", it's like being a tourist.

Unfortunately, this is the wrong mindset.

People should not go on a knowledge visit and think like a tourist, they should think like a spy. Think like James Bond.

Learning is an active process, not a passive process. A person on a Knowledge Visit should be working hard, hunting for knowledge, actively seeking it out, questioning, probing, scanning documents, taking copies, photographing machinery,  looking for the secrets of success which they can take away and apply. The only difference between a knowledge worker on a visit, and James Bond in Goldfinger's lair, is the behaviour of their hosts. On a knowledge visit, your host wants to help you. Unlike Goldfinger.

Imagine if James Bond acted like a knowledge tourist. You can picture the conversation afterwards.

M - well Bond, what did you learn?
Bond - I saw some very interesting things, and met some interesting people. You know they've developed a death ray mounted on a satellite?
M - fascinating - how does it work?
Bond - I'm not sure. There was a big button which seems to control it.
M - did you get the plans? Did you copy the specifications? Did you get any photographs?
Bond - well, I didn't like to seem too curious.
M - Grrrrrr!

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