In my previous blogs I describe how knowledge flow requires:
1. Making knowledge assets operate and
2. Deploying knowledge assets in the enterprise where they will be used.
Now I will discuss another requirement for knowledge flow.
3. Any knowledge flow infrastructure must have adaptation as a key requirement.
Beyond the laws of physics, is there anything these days that stays the same for very long?
As an example, consider a manufacturing floor. A machine is broken and maintenance has been called. The first thing the mechanic does is ask the supervisor if anything has been done to address the problem. Based on the supervisors report, the mechanic goes to work using a decision aid (an operating knowledge asset) designed specifically for the broken machine. The decision aid steps the mechanic through a proven trouble shooting process taking into consideration the supervisors report, environmental conditions and the machine’s history.
Two hours later the mechanic discovers the problem and solution. It is a novel problem based on materials from a new supplier. The knowledge wasn’t in the decision aid because the problem hadn’t been faced yet. How did the mechanic diagnose the problem? What are the conditions for the problem? From the decision aid we know exactly where in the problem solving the new knowledge and experience can be incorporated. The next time these conditions are faced the mechanic will save two hours of down time and go directly to the solution.
This same story could be applied to
- an Army platoon planning a patrol,
- a financial analyst predicting fraud,
- a nuclear engineer designing a power plant, or
- a data analyst monitoring sales.
My point is that people conduct problem solving (planning, diagnosis, prediction, monitoring) in the context of their environment, knowledge and experience. People learn and adapt in the context of their environment, knowledge and experience.
Most of us work in a collective environment where people must share knowledge to be successful. Knowledge assets should be designed to incorporate new experiences and knowledge where the problem solving is happening. Then, the new knowledge can be pushed at the right problem solving moment.