Knowledge Work is the product

Johanna Rothman recently provided some insightful thoughts about Project Work vs Product Work. While focused on software, Johanna has some points that are valuable outside of software as she focuses on the importance of long-lived teams, applying a product work mindset to team functions.

The more we create long-lived teams who have already learned how to work together, the easier it is to work together. Even if that work is project-based work.

I think the critical thing for me is how much we have to view each team, each project as having as one of it’s key deliverables knowledge management.

However, we also need to recognize that in this day-and-age the modern corporation is  a transient collective. Companies do not do a great job of showing loyalty, there are a lot of options for the modern knowledge worker, and people regularly move on.

For me, this is why it is so important for not just projects, but day-to-day work to have as part of the inherent ways of working, processes to bring the tacit to explicit. The lessons-learned is a great place to start but we should be constantly be striving to identify “what have we learned”, “what do we need to make explicit” and “how do we make it explicit” as part of our work.

Knowledge management Circular_Process_6_Stages (for expansion)

Returning to the 6 stages of knowledge management:

    1. Have a way to capture what knowledge bits. For example, if you have a visual board, make sure this is explicitly part of the board. Make it part of your day-to-day.
    2. As a team assess the collected captured (and generated) knowledge and determine what is suitable for retaining.
    3. Share it – pass it up, pass it down. Make it available by tying it into your companies knowledge management system.
    4. Turn it into artifacts that are reusable. Pre-job briefings, procedures, work instructions, whatever is relevant.
    5. Live it. Confirm you are using it.
    6. Remember knowledge management artifacts are living. Things change and need to be updated. We can always refine. Continuous improvement is key.

 

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