2 November 2011

LIKE 30: Making it stick

A slight change of plan for LIKE in October as some works at the usual pub forced us to relocate to the sister pub, the nearby Castle conveniently located next to Farringdon Station.

And a very slight change of plan it proved to be with similar d├ęcor and an identical menu.

Even the headlong rush back from Cardiff went to schedule and I arrived nicely just before the business session started.

Our guide for the evening was Gary Colet, of Warwick University Business School, who lead us through some of the complexities of his chosen subject of Knowledge transfer: making it stick.

Gary opened by considering the currency and value of different sorts of information and drew my respect by doing this in a 2 x 2 matrix (that's THE tool for proper consultants).

Low value/immediate information includes most emails; low value/long term information is things like user guides; high value/immediate includes market information and high value long term includes things like contracts and patents.

Most effort is in the high-value long term quadrant. This is where libraries live. Gary's interest is in the high value immediate stuff that does not fit standard KM solutions (like libraries).

We were then given a little demonstration of the problems caused by intermediation.

A prepared short story was read twice to a volunteer (selected by Gary) who then had to repeat it to another, who repeated it to somebody else, who repeated it to somebody else, who repeated it to us.

We kept score as the story was passed on.

Not too surprisingly we got something along the lines of "send three and fourpence, we're going to a dance" but the punchline of the story did make it through to the last retelling.

And that's the point. We each decide what part of a story matters most to us and that's what we remember and pass on.

For example, the fact that this story came from the New Scientist was not relevant to this audience and so was quickly forgotten.

Hence Rule 1: Knowledge should be passed directly from the owner to the receiver; the role of the knowledge consultant is to facilitate not to mediate.

One way that the consultant can do this is to use OPEC, i.e. ask questions that Open the discussion, Probe for detail, Examine the subject and the Close the conversation.

Gary talked us through some examples then gave us some time to explore the technique in pairs. And thanks to Rachel I now know a lot more about wedding planning than any man should. Not sure that she learnt that much about working in Cardiff from me though. I never was a good patient.

The real value is in the dialogue but this can be supplemented by taking notes (much as most of us were during the session) but these are aide memoires that helps us get to the knowledge that we already have and are not a substitute for the knowledge itself..

All too soon Gary's excellent session was over and we had to divert our attention to the food, drink and conversations. I stayed for another beer and lots more conversations and the customary mingling after that too.

I got some genuinely useful insights and techniques from the session as well as having a lot of fun with great people. This is what LIKE is all about.

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