How knowledge can be "the thread through the labyrinth"

“The thread through the labyrinth” is a metaphor for allowing others to follow our steps safely. This is what Knowledge can do. 

When Theseus negotiated Daedelus’ labyrinth in order to kill the Minotaur, he left a thread behind him (provided by Ariadne, daughter of Minos) so that the way through the Labyrinth would be clearly marked.

Cave divers do something similar, unreeling a line behind them as they explore the labyrinth of flooded passageways; both so they can find their own way out, and also so that others can follow the path without getting lost, or without having to explore the same dead ends and blind alleys that the first divers did. 

Sometimes, negotiating our projects feels like making our way through a labyrinth, especially when the project has to negotiate complex regulatory or bureaucratic hurdles, or technical difficulties.

When we successfully negotiate these hurdles, which sometimes can be long and taxing, we need to leave a thread behind us for the sake of the next project.

Imagine the first project of its type in a country – the first factory, or the first branch office. Imagine you have eventually worked your way through the maze of rules, regulations and red tape, contracts and logistics. The thread you leave behind is not string, but the collected knowledge (the “knowledge asset“) that enables the second factory, or the second branch office, to successfully follow the path of the first.

That knowledge might include;

  • The list of activities you need to undertake
  • The order in which to undertake them
  • The people you must contact, and how to contact them
  • The letters you must send, and how to write them
  • The evidence you must collect, and how to best present it
Without leaving this trail of knowledge behind you, the second factory or the second branch office will approach the maze of logistics and legislation with the same ignorance as the first, and may get just as lost and confused.

If you are the first to try something, then leave a guideline of knowledge for others to lean from.

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Shared by: Nick Milton

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