Someone asked a question that is probably very key to the existence of Knowledge Management. “How do we convert individual learning into organizational learning?”. It could surely have been the root cause why KM was conceived and is now being pursued seriously within organizations. KM is not only about individual learning and competency development but also about converting it into something that the entire organization understands and can act upon. It exists on the premise that each of us learn different things and have our own unique strengths. When many of us come together to accomplish a common goal, we can only do things a lot more effectively and efficiently due to the pooling of knowledge, skills and expertise [provided we genuinely want to contribute and avoid herd mentality and are open to learning from others]. But how easy is it to convert individual learning into organizational learning? It, admittedly, is a very complicated affair. And whatever can be achieved can anyway be done so only after years of effort and passion.
A very quick response to that question would be:
- Mentoring and coaching
- Shadowing (You let the knowledge-seeker shadow the 'expert' and watch and observe what he/she does rather than just restrict it to focused conversations and training sessions)
- Communities focused on collective thinking and learning
- Tools and utilities that you find on the Internet these days - allowing you to share your bookmarks, videos, articles, notes, ideas, book-reading habits, friends and so on. [Which basically means you begin to understand how individuals learn, from where they get their material, who the connect with and learn from, how they think etc]
Takes me back to my previous post on Calvin and Hobbes wherein Calvin wants to learn to be a Tiger and Hobbes tells him it is instinct and cannot be taught. Calvin’s retort is to look up the topic of Tigers in the Encyclopedia. The result of that exercise is anybody’s guess. So, there’s clearly a limit to what one can do to convert individual learning into organizational learning….