Using Technology to Improve The Sharing of Knowledge
Blog: Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog
My career has been largely shaped by the pursuit of better ways to communicate. I grew up surrounded by those seeking to improve management (Bill Hunter, George Box, Brian Joiner, Peter Scholtes…). When I was in grade school that focus was largely on statistics and the value of multi-factor experiments (Dad was a statistician who wrote the “bible” on design of experiments, with George Box and Stu Hunter: Statistics for Experimenters). As I moved into high school Dad was doing much more direct management consulting (it was also a combination of statistics, engineering and management but the emphasis shifted over time) based on Deming’s ideas.
The knowledge of how to properly experiment on system with multiple important factors to experiment with (nearly all experiments) has been around for almost 100 years. Yet, even so, still many college level courses talk about the need to adjust one factor at a time (OFAT) and many businesses still experiment this way. The rate at which we incorporate new knowledge is still very poor.
Technology can help improve our adoption of better understanding. Creating a climate and expectation of continued learning is also important, but I won’t talk about that in this post.
I published and presented (I think at an ASQ conference though I can’t recall which one right now) a paper on Using Quality to Develop an Internet Resource in 1999. The purpose of that internet resource was to share knowledge about quality management and the article provides insight into both those ways of looking at what was done (using quality ideas to create a resource and using the internet to spread quality ideas).
A few years later I started this blog to help people find knowledge that would make them more likely to succeed with efforts to improve management. I believe deeply in the value of Deming’s ideas on management but see so many companies make poor attempts to improve management. There are many things needed to improve the success of organizations improvement efforts but I believe the right knowledge (the ideas talked about by Deming, Ackoff, Ohno, Scholtes, etc.) will help a great deal.
Intranets are great tools to share knowledge within your organization. They can also be powerful tools to connect people to internal resources within your organization.
Wikis are a great tool to share a knowledge base (and to maintain things like standardized work, visual job instructions etc.). Wikis are a wonderful technology because of how easy they make the management of shared knowledge. It may well be you print out various things to post and make more visible (depending on what makes sense for the work environment).
Websites (including blogs) are a great way to share information with a wide audience. Like all tools a website alone isn’t likely to create better organizations. But if a large audience has a desire to improve and you provide easily accessible knowledge that can help them be more effective then they are likely to be successful and then want to learn more and then be more effective and a virtuous cycle is created. I firmly believe a great deal of the very poor results of management improvement efforts is due to people following bad advice. I hope my efforts with this blog (and management websites) make a difference by helping people find knowledge which will help them succeed.
One old method of sharing knowledge I still think is very important and is also very easy – reading good books. Reading the books written by great management thinkers is a powerful tool to help those interested in improving management. It might seem too simple to work but it is not. Most of your co-workers and peers (at other companies) won’t bother. By bothering to do so yourself you gain a huge advantage in helping your organization succeed. Start with The Leader’s Handbook by Peter Scholtes (and then make it a handbook you refer to often) and here are more suggestions.