Monday, 23 June 2014

Knowledge Assets (or, how to enjoy a pint in the sunshine a little bit quicker)

Edington is a lovely Wiltshire village tucked into the northern edge of Salisbury Plain.  It’s famed for its old and beautiful Priory Church and now has a very popular pub and farm shop, frequented by locals and visitors alike.
Two weeks ago, Edington held its annual summer fair and I helped with some of the setting up on the night before the fair.  There were 5 or 6 marquees of varying sizes that needed to be put up and about 16 of us grappling with them with varying levels of success.  The plan had been to get them erected as soon as possible and then enjoy a pint or two in the warm evening sunshine.
Unfortunately, it soon became clear that few of us were familiar with the marquees and those that were clearly hadn’t struggled with them since the last summer fair.  On asking if anyone really knew what they were doing, I was told, “No, unfortunately the people that really know how to do this are away on holiday.”
‘Long’ and ‘short’ poles differed only by a few centimetres in length and were not marked in any way help us tell which belonged in the ‘spine’ of the marquee (the short ones) and which were the supports (the long!).
Consequently, we had several unsuccessful attempts, with canvas being stretched almost to breaking point and a good old pointless thwack here and there, to try and make things fit in ways for which they weren’t designed – all the time observed by a happy few sitting in the sunshine, supping their drinks and occasionally calling out ‘suggestions’ of dubious relevance.
Still, we got there in the end and, before putting the canvas on, I took a few photos of the marquee frame and its component parts.  My plan is to use the photos in a one-page ‘how to’ guide, which we can laminate and pop into each of the marquee boxes, ready for next year.
Such a document would be a form of 'Knowledge Asset', the purpose of which is to provide the means by which one team or person can transfer their knowledge to many teams or people, separated in time and distance.  At Knoco, we help clients produce Knowledge Assets, which minimise the risk of the critical knowledge being stuck in the heads of one or two vital people who might resign, retire or fall under a bus at any time – or, in our case, simply go away on holiday at an inconvenient moment.
Knowledge Assets help clients to work more safely, more quickly and more cheaply – or, in our case, will help us get to the pub a bit quicker next year.  Nice one.

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