Studies have shown that those who spend time structuring their knowledge and even teaching it, enhance their performance as professionals and leaders. Capturing knowledge enables us to move faster in repeat performances, helps us focus on problem solving, and allows us to run our projects more smoothly.
Knowledge management is about cultivation and consumption.
The cultivation part directs us to accumulate and capture experiences, articulate them through narratives and illustrations, and finally codify and make them easily available. For a project to be considered truly complete, the experience gained from it must be documented; its lessons learned must be identified and stated. Or else, one leaves much wasted value on the table.
I am reminded of a quote by Socrates: “Life not contemplated is not worth living.”, To paraphrase, “Projects not contemplated are not yet finished.” A project may not offer its full value if it does not have its own knowledge management champion, or comprises a team who are not knowledge enthusiasts – leaving the experiences uncultivated and undocumented.
The consumption part is the actual use; socializing and analyzing the knowledge to use it as is, or build more knowledge and insights by combining and correlating the various findings. All this for the purpose of making the best decisions and taking the right actions.
Someone once said, “The value of knowledge is in its use.” This may sound like motherhood and apple pie, but there are some hidden implications to consider: We should make it a habit to drill down into our cultivated knowledge – not only to learn from it for our specific needs, but also to learn about what is going on and to develop situational awareness. Furthermore, if you take the information found, drill into it, and compare and combine the pieces – voila! You’ll have exposed some implicit insight that was not quite visible just beforehand.
Sometimes we may not know exactly what we are looking for, and that is OK too. Not every search in the knowledge base generates a specific desired result – and that is not problematic. In fact, these unstructured investigations expand our horizons, trigger more curiosity, and send us to search more, to find more, and to understand more. They force us to think and to turn ambiguity into insights and innovative approaches.