Tucker, a practitioner in knowledge management has coined the phrase,
“ Communication is human nature, knowledge is human nurture.”
Alison is part of a growing number of professionals in the field
of knowledge management. Today’s business community is interested
in knowledge management from a productivity and efficiency perspective.
It is a matter of survival in a highly competitive world. Author
Carla S. O’Dell provides insights on knowledge management
in her book If Only We Knew What We Know. She talks about
formal and informal knowledge and defines knowledge as information
in action. Becoming aware of this emerging field and exploring its
fundamental principles, triggered reflection on how these same principles
apply to non-business aspects of society.
An important aspect of knowledge management is cultivation of communities
of practice. A community of practice is a group of people who share
concern, problems, or deep commitment to an ideal and who deepen
their knowledge and expertise by ongoing interaction. Communities
of practice have been existed throughout human history from the
corporations of Ancient Rome and guilds of the middle Ages to the
civic organizations and hobby clubs of today.
a era where we have three or four generations interacting for the
first time in human history, there seems to be great value in examining
this idea of knowledge management in the context of everyday life.
Each person has unique knowledge that may be formally or informally
stored. For example, a family recipe that is written down is an
example of formally stored knowledge, while a family recipe that
only one person knows how to prepare is informally stored. It is
pretty clear that for a family, let alone a community, to benefit
from this valuable information, a community of practice needs to
be established to insure that the information about preparing the
recipe is not lost when the holder of the information is gone.
is a three-step process for knowledge management that individuals
can employ. The first step is to identify the knowledge they hold
that they do not want to be lost. Second is to identify an opportunity
to create an informal or formal record of their knowledge. The third
step in to create a way to transmit the knowledge to others.
Fishing, camping, hunting, gardening, quilting, carpentry, auto
repair, strategies for financial or business success, and cultural
practices are kinds of knowledge that individuals in families and
communities possess. Many of these kinds of knowledge can be stored
formally in printed forms, however the knowledge is best transferred
by human interaction or nurturing. Information is most likely to
be retained if transferred to the right person at the right time,
which makes the ongoing interaction aspect of communities of practice
is easy for those who hold knowledge , which can sustain power or
assure success, to allow barriers to keep them from transferring
the knowledge. These barriers are mindsets or presumptions like:
one is paying attention to what I am saying.
can’t believe they need to be shown how to do that!
is a family secret.
will take too much effort to record the directions.
don’t think anyone else really needs to know this.
I give up this information I will no longer have the power of
saying I’m the only one who knows.
is a business theory that contends that increased access to knowledge
produces 20 times more benefits. Assuming that is true, how can a
person allow their knowledge transfer to be hampered by these mindsets
ways these mindsets or presumptions keep the people with family
or community knowledge from transferring the knowledge are:
children not to bother us as we prepare food for family celebrations.
participating in the caucus system or in advisory groups at one’s
place of worship.
into diatribes about how unskilled and unworthy the younger generations
Jung wrote, ”In the final analysis, we count for something
only because of the essential we embody, and if we do not embody
that, life is wasted.” Based on this, the challenge is to
identify the knowledge that must not be lost and take advantage
of every opportunity to show and tell that knowledge. In today’s
technologically centered world there are so many ways to show and
tell. Photographs, emails, and video diaries are just a few examples
of ways to show and tell if person-to-person and face-to-face are
not possible for all those who are interested. Visualize twenty
members of younger generations developing a passion for fishing
or becoming accomplished quilters or twenty new people becoming
politically active. Start today to assure that all your unique knowledge
will produce a twenty-fold increase in family and community benefits
instead of being lost completely.