Tuesday, 25 October 2016

6 connections between good cookery and KM

I cooked a Sunday roast dinner for my family at the weekend - something of an (all too infrequent) family tradition now that the autumn is upon us here in the UK.

As I cooked, much like when I went camping last year, I was reminded of several things about knowledge management (KM):
  • In conversations with clients, I often use a 'cooking analogy' to explain the difference between information and knowledge.  For example, a recipe in a cookery book usually contains 2 main elements - a list of ingredients and a method.  The list of ingredients is 'information'; the method is 'knowledge'.  Both are essential to cooking a good meal.  If all we do is share information with one another, people will certainly learn 'about' stuff but not how to do stuff, which of course is at the heart of KM.  Analogies like this are handy when explaining what remains KM which, for most organisations, remains an unknown discipline.  Other tools to explain KM that this blog has already covered are the infographic mentioned here, and the video that I put together, linked here.
  • Again with regard to recipes - these are effectively 'knowledge assets' and the best of them contain plenty of photos to help the would-be cook to understand the techniques being described.  As with recipes, so with work - when creating guidance material for ourselves and colleagues, we should use plenty of pictures, diagrams etc. to help convey the knowledge. 
  • Wikis and blogs are great ways of communicating new knowledge with colleagues and should always contain attractive and relevant visuals to encourage the reader to continue to scroll down - a friendly and funny cookery blog, for example is this one by up and coming cook, Olivia Potts, with stacks of high-quality photos that show us all what the dishes look like.
  • Having cooked a particular dish, I always seek feedback from the family, perhaps not in the formal sense of a Retrospect or After Action Review (that would be a bit much!) but there is certainly a learning loop in play, with their comments and my own thoughts giving me a great chance to improve next time.
  • I have many recipe books but am increasingly drawn to finding a recipe online; I tend to print one off and then, having gone through the learning loop mentioned above, I scribble notes on the page and keep it for next time, so as not to forget the knowledge that I've gained.  This is an example of knowledge synthesis, explored by my colleague, Nick Milton, in his blog here.
  • Finally, there are some aspects to cooking that are not well reflected in a recipe.  For example, knowing how long to parboil potatoes before roasting them or, indeed, what a good roasted potato looks like - these are examples of tacit knowledge that is acquired with experience and harder to unpick.  Mentoring or a thorough knowledge harvesting interview might enable the finer details to be revealed and the recipe updated accordingly.
Of course, the main thing is that my efforts went pretty well and my daughters went to bed with full tummies, having cleaned their plates twice!

For a conversation about introducing KM tools into your workplace, kitchen, school, factory, hospital, barracks, airport, hotel, office, trading floor or charity please contact me direct or via the Knoco website.

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