Thursday, June 21, 2007

The zen of hiking and managing knowledge

We all know that managing knowledge is easiest when we are passionate about the subject or if the knowledge we are managing is immediately useful. The motivation intensifies and we almost forget that what we are doing is KM. One example of this is the website and resource list for hiking trails around the world:

You'll find trails described for places far and wide, some with pictures, others with excellent descriptions. You'll also find blogs and sites of hiking enthusiasts that provide a tool to share experiential knowledge of the trails and hiking in general. Vendors also have a place to showcase hiking gear and accessories.

There is no doubt this site is driven by a passion for hiking. As we strive to manage knowledge in our own companies, we need people who have a passion for the work and for what is being learned. This also means we need people with a passion for the organization, or at very least for the mission of the organization.

If you do not have that, if there are no people with passion, managing knowledge is not the answer. Taking a deeper look at the organization itself may well be called for. It is most likely time for an organizational assessment-- Is your mission clear and well articulated? Is it one the employees can grab on to and go with? Does organizational trust exist?

You want to manage knowledge like these hikers do. I am not necessarily referring to how they have structured the data. I am referring to the enthusiasm of a group who are driven to share what they know so others may benefit from the lessons learned. Through the site, these folks help others not make the same mistakes others have, and to be more productive with their hiking time. That is what you want. You have to have the passion to begin to manage the knowledge coupled with the need, and then you can follow the lead of the hikers.

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