All 10 entries tagged Knowledge

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April 24, 2009

Tacit to explicit

One of the greatest challenges of any KM policy is how to transform all the huge amount of tacit knowledge that is part of an organisation in explicit knowledge. People want write manuals or fill in systems. The most practical way to do that is through communities of practise or creating in-house training. Based on what I have seen over this years, if a company wants to to somehow make people write down or fill useful information of some sort that has to be connected with some bigger aspect (some prize or being considered a natural part of some other activity). A few years ago we had a structure to allow all projects conducted on the company to leave some kind of information. We managed to have over one hundred projects properly completed on our database. Quite a good number. We did that by establishing that in order to be appreciated over one recognition program we had, all information had to be filled. Some other people also filled because they believed on the idea (and we set example, doing the same on the projects conducted by us). The problem, looking back, was how useful, how frequently those information was used and valued on other initiatives.

But the challenge of making people share and use the available knowledge by turning tacit to explicit persists.

Knowledge Audit

Have you ever performed a knowledge audit on yourself? That is a concept I came accross while working on the mini-project for KBAM. Like many other concepts, is common sense the idea that I should think and know about what I should know. But have you ever done it consciously? Well, for all of us MBE students the answer is yes. At least it should be because every time we are doing a mind map and planning an PMA or the project we are doing some kind of Knowledge Audit. We are identifying what we know, what we need to know and how to do it.

BEsides that, recently I did a different and more complex version of the Knowledge Audit. I was talking to some former colleagues and to some people from the company I worked for and they enquired me if and when I was returning. I knew this question would come so before hand I gave some thought to the the question. And one of the things that came to my mind is that in order to know that, I needed to know what I wanted, what I was looking for. That was something I already knew (see the entry about my personal vision and mission for that answer). Them what I had to think was, what do I needed, what was missing, what were my improving points in order to get to this level. That was basically a knowledge audit with a slightly different connotation. What I needed to have and know here was more closely related to professional experience (a form of knowledge) them to formal academic knowledge.

I think constantly performir personal, honest, realistic audits is a valuable experience to any human being. And I`m not talking about academic or professional experience, more important them all that is making a personal audit, reflecting were I am, were I d like to be and what I need to get there as a human being. 

April 20, 2009

Writing in books….

Never liked writing in books. Them some years ago I had a teacher on university who stimulated me to do so (in my own books, of course, not library ones). So while reading about knowledge management one of the techniques that is often discussed is that people just register conclusions taken from meetings, actions or facts as soon as they happen (Toyota, for example, stimulates that). The idea is that it allows more details to be remembered, real information's to be collected (and not post-fact impressions changed by personal impressions) etc. I related one think to the other. The idea of writing thoughts and ideas on the book as the information is readden relates in an individual level to the same concept. Is a technique for individual knowledge management but that builds in the same ideas used for organisations.


April 10, 2009

Maintenance, Management, Life–Cycle, KM…

Writing about life-cycle costs asset management for my PMA. Actually came to my mind that the basic question of management is always related to the basic question of Life-Cycle. It`s such (or it at least should be) a basic thing, the idea that a manager should make decisions thinking about the life-cycle consequences of those decisions that is sounds funny that somebody has to be remembered of that by a whole body of knowledge. 

But is certainly something we human beings tend to forget. I had a teacher on my MBA who was an specialist on Ethics. He wrote a very interesting book about how the basic question people`s life (and for extension in all business related sciences) is always about spending more, enjoying the moment or saving for later. Reminds me of the old rock`n roll motto that used to say you should have a fast, crazy life and die before being 30....Well personal decisions are personal decisions, but when managing an organisation in which several people depend on you you need to have a non-r`nr approach and think about life time implications and decisions...

March 12, 2009

How much would you pay for all the knoweledge in the world?

I did my MBA in finance. I did not particularly love it, but it was useful. But there was one specific module called asset valuation that I liked. I was particularly impressed with a book called "Value at Risk"by an Indian-American scholar called Damodaran. He is a major expert on the subject (Actually pretty much all his writings are available for free in his web page ) . It was fascinating the way he worked solutions to try to put a value on everything (on a economical sense, of course). For example, how to measure the value of an organisation that never profited? Or of something that is still a plan? He discuss it. 

Of course that is interesting only for people that enjoy financial matters (And important to say not all economists understand or like finance. Several economists are dedicated to historical questions, or development, or marketing related issues, etc etc). But that idea of trying to find a way (creative, often) to measure things often comes to my mind.

All techniques we study recommend (and that is quite logical) that measures should be established to measure the evolution of the initiatives. Fantastic. How to measure knowledge? Of course there are processes and suggestions in several papers. You could measure number of improvements taken from knowledge present on a database, or number of ideas collected from employees, etc etc. BUt is that a good measure?

One could also think about how much money was taken out of an database, or how many bytes on a database..all numerical measures. But are that a good wat to measure?

Of course the best way would depend on the circumstance, on what you are using Knowledge Management for (and a very important feature is that you have to know EXACTLY what you are using it for, exactly what you are expecting to gain from it.

But is something hard to measure...


March 02, 2009

Knowing is more them having

About 1,5 years ago I decided to go overseas to study. I had that dream for a while but for one reason or the other I had not done it. However that moment seem very appropriate.

I started looking for it and found all the information's needed. I liked everything but one thing. It was a very expensive thing to do.  I looked for scholarships and they were available however if I wanted them I would have to wait at least one more year and that could have completed cancelled the possibility of coming due to several personal and professional issues.

The thing is, I had money for that. I`ve been working since I was a teenager and I managed to save money for that. I had just enough with a certain margin of safety (and of course if something REALLY out of control, a special Cause happened, I had some emergency alternatives in place). But was it worth? Would not I be better off keeping it, or using it to help me buy a flat or something else?

The first answer to my problem came from my financial background. I calculated what this degree could bring to me in terms of salary increase and compared it to what the overall amount of money would give me interest-wise in a low risk application (if you prefer, made an economical cost calculation using the cost of opportunity concept).  It made sense to spend it that way.

Second I had a very nice conversation with an uncle I have.  And he reminded me of something I always said but had forgotten. What you know is worth much more then what you have. That is specially true when we are young. Knowledge is the best possible asset. No one will never be able to take it away from you. And in this digital workd even more. That was the killing argument, and perhaps the main reason why I am here in the first place.

Therefore it makes all sense the people and organisations should do their best to manage knowledge, to try to make the best out of it. That`s actually what they are paying for when hiring people, specially expensive ones.

October 16, 2008

About the books of the last entry

I was asked this morning about the books that I`ve talked about in the last post. Sorry about it, I forgot to list them. I`ll put a few of them (I won`t remember them all since all my books are in Brazil...)

The Wealth and Poverty of Nations 

By David S Landes '

Wonderful book. The writer is a British historian and economist that does some brilliant analysis about why some countries became rich and some poor. Landes has a very liberal/rightist way of looking at the history and is everything but politically correct. Great book.

Guns, Germs & Steel

By Jaired Diamond 

Espectacular. About the development of the great civilisations, how they appeared and why they appeared where they did. I`m a big fan of Jared Diamond is an American evolutionary biologist,physiologistbiogeographer...

Another great book by him is


The history of civilisations that collapsed. Some for not taking care of the environment, some for because of wars, some because of bad political decisions...fantastic! 

Age of Extremes

Eric Hobsbawn

A famous ans classic book about the history of the XX century

That are some of the books that is some way refer to the subject I wrote on the post bellow.

October 15, 2008

Knowledge in civilizations, societies, forums, blogs, MBE Students….

I like reading. I think like is not the word, I LOVE reading. But I`m not crazy about any particular subject, but again that`s quite  unfair. I`m crazy about almost all subjects. But my taste is quite seasonal. For a while I decided I just wanted to read classical novels (Don Quixote, Moby Dick, Karamazov Brothers, etc etc), and them just biographies, etc etc. There was a moment on my life when I just read history books specially about how some societies have developed quicker  and some didn`t, how some empires fall, what is usually the difference between success and failure in societies (I suggest a few books about that matter in the end of the post). There are a few common reasons in all the histories, but there`s one point that is almost always present in all the history of success and in failure.  That point is about the degree of importance given to research and education in the societies. The more valuable knowledge is for that society, the more important it is, the better that society goes. I`m not going to get in the details about the fact that real knowledge requires free thinking , acceptance of mistakes , no fear of trying, etc etc. But there is one detail I`d like to get into. That`s the fact that even though knowledge is perhaps the most valuable asset it is one of the only (if not the only asset) that the more you use, the more you give and the more you share the more you have. 

That`s clear in the history of the human kind. All the civilisations and societies that have given attention to knowledge and that have opened they`re doors to knowledge sharing have evolved. When China was de most advanced society in the world, Europe imported fundental knowledge from there (powder, paper, etc). At the same time, China was not interested in learning from other places because the thought that by being the most advanced the have nothing else to learn. That was the main cause of the decrease of the importance of the Chinese science ans economy for a long time (that is being reverted in the last decades). The same thing happened to several countries in the middle east. For centuries the science in those countries was very advanced in all areas. They invented the numeric system we use today (and the fundamental creation of the concept of the number 0), knew a lot about astrology, metal welding, etc etc. However due to several political and religious restrictions many of those countries have decided to close themselves to foreign knowledge and science. hat certainly has a major effect in the decay of many of those civilisations. Even within Europe that can be found. One of the theories that explains the industrial revolution and the economical growth it brang states that protestant countries were more open to experiments, science, knowledge them catholic ones due to persecution made by the catholic church  to  scientists (Galileo Galilei being a great example) that`s one of the reasons why England, German became richer countries them Spain or Italy for example.

The bottomline is that it`s is important to share knowledge. And that`s is very easy to explain. The more people sharing they`re experiments and explanations the more work is being done in the same direction, smaller possibilities of commiting the same mistakes, etc etc.

Well, vey nice. Sharing knowledge is certainly something desirable, etc etc. And MBE students with it? 

Well, something that Paul stimulates us to do is sharing knowledge. Blogs, team work, forums...I completely agree with it and specially with the argument he uses. But I have a suggestion. Why don`t have a coletive forum? Instead of each team discussing on one forum, why don`t having all of us talking in just one forum? I understand that the basic idea is being able to better evaluate and mark the work. But that could be made by analysing the contributions each one of us made on it. Of course it would be harder to do, but it`s possible. I know we are going to share our knowledge during the presentations, but I still think we should share it by writing, exchanging files, etc. Another reason for that would be following one of Demings principles that states that cooperation is better them competition...

Just to finish that post, something interesting happened. I began writing this post yesterday. Today I went to the tutor dinner and had the chance to talk to several great colleagues. At one moment I was the only non-Chinese in the table. And I had the chance to learn a lot about China, to talk about some sensible questions, etc. It`s funny that in a determined moment we talked about the history of China and we got to the point about China having closed they`re doors several centuries ago and having payed for it (as we said above). The nice thing is that they agree with that, and knowing were you get it wrong is the first step to get it right next time!

Anyway, I`d like to thank all colleagues for all the knowledge sharing so far. I hope that I`m able to contribute to that sharing as well! 

October 10, 2008

Quick one about questioning ouserlves!

Just a quick one (actually I`d have many entries I`d like to put in here, but pretty tired today)

I`ve also worked during my whole academic life, and coming here for that degree have a lot to do with that. And you work you usually kind of build some "certainties"some stuff that you are pretty sure that you know. Of course you try fighting this kind of behaviour, but is very hard to avoid it always.

So I`m really enjoying questioning some of my beliefs. Lot`s of examples but the thing that I am really not accepting easily is Deming saying we should not have targets, numerical targets. I`m not crazy about targets and I do think that you have got to be very careful when setting one. The wrongly set target can surely work against what you really wanted any "target using defender" would agree with that. But no target at all is something I still have to read more, understand better. I`ve already understood the logic, the philosophy behind it, but I`m still not fully convinced one should not use numerical targets when they are goodly designed (for instance instead of having month targets having longer terms ones so that some of the problems of having them are avoided...)

Gotta think more about that



October 07, 2008

A hint

Writing about web page

Just for those who are looking for material about Deming, I`ve found this website. It has lots of interesting material including some of the material that was used in MBA`s based on Demings`s work.

Of course care must always be taken when using net sources, but it seems like a useful resource.

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