Track Knowledge in Flight

Man’s flight through life is sustained by the power of his knowledge. – Austin ‘Dusty’ Miller

Too much knowledge dies in storage. Much is lost in people’s heads or files never again to be used. Any dead knowledge will be painstakingly and wastefully recreated, only to be lost again. Knowledge management systems that are about creating new stores of knowledge rarely realise their potential.

Knowledge isn’t a stock. We need to focus on its flow. We need ways to see or track knowledge in flight so that we can better use it.

  • Movement means visibility: When knowledge is put into action, especially in collaboration we have a chance to see it. Often an organisation does not know what it knows until its people begin to discuss and answer questions
  • Movement means relevance: We are rightly more interested in the knowledge that is being used by others. The fact that someone else finds it relevant and wants to share and apply it signals that it is of value.
  • Movement means context: Documents and files can lack the context that is necessary to fully understand and use information. This is one reason that effective knowledge management systems focus on the role of people to provide context. Seeing information move provides a path of people who can share context.
  • Movement means others: Action attracts attention. That is likely to draw in others who can add or leverage the knowledge.

There are many ways we can accentuate the visible movement of knowledge. John Stepper talks about the power of ‘working out loud’, sharing work in progress to enable others to see and collaborate. Social tools provide a platform for moving and recording movement of knowledge in a public and searchable way. Communities of practice can become bazaars of knowledge movement and custodians of rich records of use.

Where is knowledge in flight in your organisation? How can you make that movement more visible?

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