Tuesday, 13 October 2015

KM down on the farm - or, have tent and KM, will camp!

A few weeks ago I went camping in Dorset with my family and that of my brother. He and his wife have been camping a few times and have a lot of the necessary gear.  My wife and I have not, so we borrowed loads of bits and pieces from a friend – I wasn’t going to spend a small fortune on the latest tent technology only to be informed that we would not be camping again.

As things turned out, the week was a great success, despite the pouring rain for much of it.  Furthermore, the whole experience proved a useful vehicle for demonstrating the value of knowledge management.  A few examples:
Knowledge is most useful when recent and relevant – I served for over 10 years as an officer in the British Army and have spent more than my fair share of nights outdoors, under canvas, under trees and under nothing else but the stars.  Now, some of my experience was, and will always be, useful for a domestic camping trip but I will be the first to admit that my brother’s more recent and directly relevant experience was far more useful.  This should be borne in mind when planning a Peer Assist, for example.  Having him on hand when it came to erecting and collapsing our tent proved invaluable and, whilst both operations were time-consuming, they’d have taken far longer had I not had his knowledge on hand or, worse still, had I wanted to ‘do it all myself’;
  • Lessons are not learned until you change something – throughout the week, we all noticed things that either did not go as well as we had hoped (e.g. an inflatable mattress with even the slightest hole in it will leave you lying on the cold ground come morning) or far surpassed our expectations (e.g. portable ‘fire pits’ (i.e. the inner metal rim of a lorry wheel) are excellent and well worth the small charge to hire them).  When this happened, someone would invariably sing out, “Ha, a lesson learned!” only for me to boringly respond, “No, a lesson identified. It’ll only be learned if we change things next time round.”
  • Clothing and equipment lists can be valuable knowledge assets – this first time camping as a family was a bit of a leap in the dark as we weren’t 100% sure what we needed and ended up with far more stuff than necessary.  I need to create a list based on: what we used and was invaluable; what we had with us but never used and what we lacked but would really like to have with us next time around.  The problem is, I’ve not yet created this list and already my memory is fading, demonstrating my next point, namely:
  • Wait too long to capture knowledge and its gone – when we got back from our trip: tired, in need of a decent shower and still just about on speaking terms with one another, the last thing I wanted to do was sit down and write up the lessons of our trip.  But I should have done it there and then because with every passing day my recollections become less reliable and I run the risk of filling in the gaps with rubbish, as sometimes happens when project lessons capture sessions are held far too long after the project is finished.  Perhaps I’m being harsh, most projects don’t capture lessons at all so some late and inaccurate ones might be better than nothing.
So there we are: camping holidays – not for everyone but as a way of demonstrating how KM helps us save time, stay dry and have fun, they’re great.
Now, I wonder if I can book a beach holiday in the Caribbean on the company, just to compare and contrast….
For a conversation about KM, Peer Assists, lessons learned (or otherwise) and Knowledge Assets, do contact me direct or visit the Knoco website.

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