Sunday, October 14, 2007

K(M)others! :)

Many a time, when I attempt to convey what embedding knowledge in processes means, I end up not being so satisfied with the conversation/debate/discussion. For some strange reason, I almost always come away feeling that my partner(s) in conversation was(were) not exactly on the same wavelength. Only perhaps a person with a good process-orientation and an exposure to process improvements/enhancements/design/re-engineering would get the message in the way it might be intended? So, I was quite excited by what I came across this morning. I came across an example that I think is worth a mention in order to understand what KM professionals mean when they say knowledge needs to be embedded in processes rather than be a separate ‘activity’ altogether. The example popped out at me from a programme on TV. As far as I am concerned, it was an Aa..ha! moment. :).

The anchor of the programme was pointing out that while in the western culture, people celebrated “Mother’s Day” as an exclusive event to honor and celebrate one’s relationship with one’s mother and used it to demonstrate one’s love and affection for one’s mother, in the Indian context this is rather a value that is ingrained in the culture in multiple ways. We have mythological stories that bring out the beauty of motherhood, communicate the value of a mother-son/daughter relationship, instill respect and love for mothers etc. We also have regular rituals and practices that involve paying obeisance to our mothers, specific festivals that celebrate motherhood etc. Moreover, we have plenty of maxims related to the importance and value of a mother that get handed down from one generation to another by default. Now, isn’t this a clear example of ‘knowledge’ as an exclusive/stand-alone event versus knowledge ingrained and embedded in processes??? I think so....!


Deepti said...

Excellent and very innovative simili... impressed by your insight and I must say conveys the point exactly as intended.

However, that makes me keen to know... what accordinging to you would be example of embedding knowledge into the process.

What for you symbolises knowlege:
- the know how of how approach a business process
- Standard work instructions on the process / job
- Learnings that one must take from it

What is the essense of knowledge in processes.

If we go back to the example presented by you, it gives me a very clear understanding that some things become a perception, a value, ethics. To that concept I can apply your example.

But if i segregate ethics from learnings, i am not able to place the statement, knowledge as a process.

Nimmy said...

Hey Deep-tea! (Hope you don't mind me calling you that! ;))

Kind words from you! :) I did think it was an Aa..ha! moment when I 'discovered' the analogy. And your question makes me think harder! Good one!

Knowledge is typically defined as something we gain through, if we've learned how to do something well through experience and have incorporated that in a procedure, then so be it - that is very much knowledge! But, I must add that, it is believed that the "How" and "Why" of things are what comprises true knowledge - as opposed to the "What?", "When?", "Who?" and "Where?". So, if today's children don't understand *why* the relationship with his/her mother is important, what we do (rituals, bowing before one's mother etc) is not knowledge but something meaningless...! So, I guess it is very important to weave in the Why and How of things if we want to embed true knowledge in our processes.

If we ask project managers to look up similar projects before they begin their's, it would be good to say why they ought to do money, time, effort, learn from the past etc. That would be a better reflection of embedding knowledge in processes than simply telling PMs to look up the historical database. (I need to think of an example where the 'Why' is not as obvious as in this one ;))

Have I answered your question or am I running on some other track??? :)

Deepti said...

What is the essense of knowledge in processes... IS THE QUESTION

The why and how is understandable as a part of the answer.

I know sometimes it is hard to write the whole thing up when you are brimming with answers...but i get the point. Though your answer gets slightly confusing at the end.

BTW ... i love being called DEEP TEA. hahhahhaha

Lets meet up yaar, maazah aayegah. Let me know if u drop by US anytime

Nimmy said...

:) Hmmmmm! What is the essence of knowledge in processes? Essence of processes? E of K in P??? Enormous food for thought!! (You're a good cook deep-tea!) :P

Could we perhaps say that a process qualifies to be a 'knowledge process' if it has evolved into one - based on past learnings, introspection and collective thinking - where the knowledge sources and knowledge destinations blend to allow for efficient and effective flow of knowledge amongst them? It is also one which accomodates for activities revolving around continuous or radical improvement. Note: Knowledge sources and destinations could be content or people (Psst...Do you still want to meet me?? Think again) :D

BTW, I was in the US last month, but I was in SFO. While there, I thought of you and wondered if I'd get to travel to Michigan sometime. :) Will surely give you a shout if I happen to come over. :)

Nimmy said...

Still thinking about your question and whether I got it right... :)

Essence of knowledge - something that contributes to efficiency and effectiveness....but also helps you understand why you are doing what you are doing....something that teaches you what is perceived to be one of the better ways of doing things....!! What?

Anonymous said...

Goodday, (I was searching for some other Lotus an old band: "Peace and Harmony ... Love, Respect they seem cliché ... but they're still my guide...)
The term 'knowledge management' that sounds interesting, I wanted to read what was meant by it.
(haven't found it yet, but the october 14th contained several things that had me wondering. Thanks, for 'showing me those avenues of thought'.)

I think, with todays machines (more complex than say an electric-saw).
I will be able to do complicated tasks without knowing the actual process, the 'device/machine' will do the work.
All I have to know is how to operate it.

E.G. a dough-maker/breadmachine.
The succes of dough depends on the (is that properly called?) yeast-ing process.
This process depends on some 'ingredients', in specific proportions.
(instead of bread, alcohol would be a good example as well.)
Anyone can follow-the-recipe, we needn't understand that knowledge behind it for succes.

Sofar I might have argued that -to know specifics isn't important-
That's not be my intent.
If we forget about knowledge behind the things, we'll dumb-out.

There's the process, the everunfolding 'now'.
And there's the minds ability to conceive-outside-the-process / or forego the senses.
(search for vritti -s, I think you will dig.)

Nimmy said...

Interesting comment, Anon! :) I liked the write up on Vritti on Wikipedia....interesting stuff indeed!!! I guess there is a need to re-visit and understand the fundamentals of everything that's ingrained in the system. Many a time, even a little bit of introspection is enough to reveal the truth in such a case....right?