How data ‘networks’ come alive from bytes to brain-cells.
“All men by nature desire knowledge.” – Aristotle
Who has the knowledge?
Knowing is great. Next best thing to knowing is to realize where to find the knowledge.
- Every employee in a particular team with a defined Job Role and determined KRA.
- Subject-Matter-Experts such as a specialist in a technology/ sector/ industry/ etc.
- Business Leads
- Your project emails and circulars
- Your HR and intranet/internet website contacts
- Client representatives – hear it straight “from the horse’s mouth”
- The person in the cubicle next to you
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“Information is not knowledge.” – Albert Einstein
What is knowledge?
There are facts, statistics, news, and a whole range of information in varying media, which flows around and changes and adapts and is of little use unless you can turn it into your advantage.
So, how to differentiate knowledge from information? Look at it this way – there are utensils (tools) and there are ingredients (resources) and then the recipe (process) to cook your food. Information is that list of objects and elements. Knowledge is being able to use this information to serve your client the palatable food (customer-centric, customized) he demands.
- Differentiate and classify your data.
- List specialist skills – your unique know-how is knowledge to enable your team.
- Consider writing down project progress in brief every week – input your “lessons learned” and “success stories”.
- Talk to colleagues in the same field and get them to discuss/contribute to “knowledge building” – a base of information that can be utilized by all of you as valid practical knowledge.
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“The great end of life is not knowledge but action.” – Thomas H. Huxley
Can the Knowledge be Implemented?
So you have managed to source knowledge-base for your task. Now if it is practical, you can implement it. To do so, there are factors such as – time constraints, budgetary constraints, client-specific needs, scope of project, etc. to consider. So the fact that there is knowledge in a team doesn’t guarantee extraordinary output from that team.
Implementation requires either the relevant experience (from you) or the expert guidance (from others). If you have the right knowledge-base to refer to case-studies, whitepapers, one-pagers on industry/sector or project showcases on the technology being considered – then you have the prerequisites to attempt to replicate the success or even exceed it.
- Refer relevant knowledge repository
- Refer the specialists
- Refer to the client-demands
- Note the constraints and expectations
- Maximize the project rollout gains from the existing knowledge gathered from above sources
The popular Nobel Prize winning physicist, Richard Feynman, has been critical of traditional information gathering where no practical implementation of knowledge occurs. Do you really know your function?
“You can know the name of a bird in all the languages of the world, but when you’re finished, you’ll know absolutely nothing whatever about the bird… So let’s look at the bird and see what it’s doing — that’s what counts. I learned very early the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something.” – Richard Feynman
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“We’re drowning in information and starving for knowledge.” – Rutherford D. Rogers
Is the Knowledge Concise and Precise?
You have little time to fret over tons of data as is with others in the organization/ industry. Hence it is all the more important to develop the knowledge-base such that it is a handy ready-reckoner for varying activities, assignments, reports and presentations.
- Learn to take notes for various activities/ projects
- Classify this into relevant segments such as by technology, by function, by sector, etc.
- Prefer to provide step-by-step approach so that someone outside your role/expertise may be able to utilize or learn from it
- Be precise with the input you provide in your documentation (case studies/ whitepapers) and articles
- Don’t leave out crucial/ critical data just to ensure brevity. Half-knowledge is worse than no knowledge.
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“If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed.” – Mark Twain
Knowledge Reliability – perspective and truths
So, how to ensure that your knowledge is reliable and not in any way corrupted by changing time/ technology/ market/ etc.? Basically the person creating a document for knowledge-base is the owner for that content. In an open and learning work-culture – these documents should be up for peer-review.
Peer-review refers to the vast number of employees on the intranet portal or knowledge-management portal who can access these documents, read it for interest or project-needs and then give feedback through ratings and/or comments. So each document should preferably be user-rated and reviewed. Peer-review is globally accepted norm. The function head/ lead can act as guide/ mentor to moderate or add value to the documents – apart from sharing his/ her own expertise by contributing to the knowledge-base through similar documents.
Data, information, statistics, etc gets updated or changed regularly and so what you know now may not be applicable next year. An audit for such documentation needs to be scheduled bi-annually or for critical knowledge-resources – at every quarter.
- What is the source of the information?
- What was the outcome of the project/ assignment from which this knowledge comes?
- Is there a contact person from that “knowledge-group” in the organization whom you could consult?
- What does the market say about this? Latest trends and technologies.
- Can this be adapted to your client’s needs?
- How can you improve or add upon this knowledge-base?
- What is the outcome of your knowledge-pursuit in this field/ technology/ function?
- Follow up on changes and progress of the information over a period of time and update it
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“Zeal without knowledge is fire without light.” – Thomas Fuller
Do you value the Knowledge-base?
All business is for profit and other gains. Knowledge-base is not a charity or voluntary activity. It needs to be functional, practical, feasible and profitable just as any other element in a corporate organization.
For this, the employees, teams and departments need to analyze and contemplate the “value” from such endeavors. This knowledge-repository is for you, should work for you – enabling and increasing the efficiency and productivity for individuals and groups.
When you find that applying this knowledge has created better opportunities for your project/ client/ individual-successes/ etc. then you should not only maximize the latent-knowledge potential but also be an ambassador for the knowledge-base in your team/ function/ organization.
- Many people deem whitepapers, case-studies, and writing articles as a tedious and time-consuming activity
- What they don’t realize is that they only need to list a few points on their own special skill-sets and functions and “project learnings”
- Thus writing and creating such a knowledge-repository should be easy, natural and productive (and profitable in the long-run)
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“Think big, think fast, think ahead. Ideas are no one’s monopoly.” – Shri Dhirubhai Ambani
Knowledge and Creativity – change knowledge & create knowledge
Yes, you can create your own ideas. Well, we all know that. But this is especially important for people who have quite a few years of relevant experience in any field. If you are a specialist – you need to have “Thought Leadership” on your specialized role.
Creating new ways to do business, new ways to deploy or employ technologies, or even alternatives and workarounds to known business problems.
- Look ahead – go beyond the accepted trends and norms to anticipate future solutions and opportunities
- Know your base-information – the knowledge-repository is a ready-reckoner to help you analyze changing industry needs, the scope for growth and “raising the bar” in performance & efficiency
- Create new benchmarks or study redundancy of existing ones
- Adapt existing know-how for current situations
- Thought Leadership through monthly brainstorming sessions
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About the Author: Ujjwal Dey is a Life Coach, Motivational Speaker and Corporate Trainer. Call +91 9322005050