Thursday, January 18, 2007

Learning to Fly

This post is to capture some of my learnings from the book Learning to fly by Chris Collison and Geoff Parcell. It’s all about British Petroleum’s (BP) KM strategies and approaches as it was a few years ago. I may not be far from the truth if I say that this is probably one of those few books that give people practical advice on KM practices. Something that you can read, understand, and start applying almost immediately.

Chris and Geoff have moved on, parted ways (surprisingly enough) and become independent KM consultants since then.

Okay. Back to this post’s deliverables…..

· BP’s core KM philosophy hovers around learning Before, During and After doing whatever you’re doing.

· The methods/ideas/practices/approaches include

o Connecting people through practices and tools: this involves identifying areas of concern, identifying the components therein, rating teams on each of these, arriving at levels of competency and plotting these on a graph to identify which teams can teach and which learn – I think this is a very nicely designed and ready-to-be-adopted idea

o Peer assists (check with someone who can help using a system that will allow you to find who can help)

o Reflection- also called after action review – the four key questions that need to be asked being what was supposed to happen, what actually happened, why was there a difference, what can we learn from this

o Retrospect (Changing this based on Chris' comments in response to this post! As he says, 'Postmortem' has a negative flavour to it :-) – different from the after action reviews in the sense that it happens not after a single task/activity but after a project. The key questions being…what went right and why and what went wrong and why

o Expert locators – who’s who – the intranet personal profiler

o Communities and networks – there is a focus on quick wins here. And there is a clear difference between communities of interest, practice and innovation

o Capturing knowledge – some down-to-earth and effective methods of capturing knowledge being well-conducted interviews. Storage is in tapes and documents. Checklists play an important role.

PS: I read this book a long time ago and prepared this draft of a post a few weeks after I read the book. But I kept postponing this post for later as I wanted to do another quick review of the book to look for any other important points. Which, I am sorry to say, I still haven’t done…partly because I think I have captured most of the points I personally want to remember. :-)


Chris Collison said...

Thanks Nimmy, glad you enjoyed it!

One small correction - Post Mortem should read "Retrospect" - otherwise someone has to die before we can learn...

I'm actually planning on visiting Bangalore this June, to spend two days with Robert Bosch India.
Might be able to catch up with you then?

Nimmy said...


Wow...honoured to see your comments in response to this post. I shall change postmortem to retrospect right away! :) Sorry about that...just that we used to call it postmortem in my previous company to indicate that it was after everything was done and over with.... :)

It would be simply great to meet up if you're here in Bangalore...will write to you to find out more... :)