Sunday, February 25, 2007

What Tacit Knowledge?

Knowledge Managers say they're after "tacit knowledge" for that matter they have formed "spaces for stories to be told and listened to".
I have always looked at Knowledge Management from the "why would I share knowledge for free" point of view. However, even when I do want to share knowledge, I find out that it isn't so easy.
Saying that I have a story to tell means - I hope - that I know how to get something done. It does not mean that I have a story to tell. Moreover, it does not mean that I am aware to the fact that I have a story to tell.
How would I know that I have tacit knowledge to share?
If it is tacit, I have probably never discussed it with no one. It is not on emails, not on the notes I am writing myself - not explicitly, that's for sure. It is somewhere else and it probably pops-up whenever I need it. Since I don't communicate it, I am not aware to its importance. It fully pops-up up only when I am asked questions like "how do you know this" and "how do you do that".
Well, to expose this tacit knowledge, all the Knowledge Manager has to do is to ask me to carry out some task. But wait, ain't I getting paid for carrying out such tasks in the first place? I am (hopefully...), so I'd replace the previous credo with "... to expose this tacit knowledge, all my manager has to do is to keep asking me to carry out my job".
This way, the job keeps getting done, and no one has to wonder what am I hiding when I reply with "What Tacit Knowledge?".

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

No more printed documentation

We're going to lunch. At the dining room there's a little traffic jam by the cash. So I haste to pick a main dish from one of the isles , some carbs from another isle, a salad or two from the salads isles, skip the bread isle and the soup isle and rush to catch us a table. 10 minutes later the guy I am dining with are arriving at the table. "What took you so long?" I stare at the trays that are so similar to mine.
"So many isle and so many variants to choose from". they say.
Lesson #1: don't force people to think and choose. Fascist, but works fine.
At that very day I made our printed documentation obsolete and made my friends stick to On-Line Help only. Sure, it took me two years to fully carry this decision out, but it passed rather easily.
Next: what's wrong with printed documentation?