The twin KM approaches of Connect and Collect
I have blogged quite a bit recently on Connect and Collect approaches to KM, aka the transfer of tacit and explicit knowledge. Here is a reprise and extension of a useful table which describes the two.
Three of my recent blog posts have touched on
- Charts and pilots,
- Why transferring knowledge through discussion is over 10 times more effective than written documents, and
- Why a conversation with experienced colleagues is better than re-using captured knowledge.
Each of these deals with knowledge transfer through tacit and explicit knowledge, comparing the use of the two, its efficiency and its effectiveness. These two approaches to knowledge transfer are the connect approach, where knowledge is transferred by connecting people, and the collect approach, where knowledge is transferred by collecting, storing, organising and retrieving documents.
Each method has advantages and disadvantages, as summarised in the table below and the blog posts referenced above. Effective Knowledge Management strategies need to address both these methods of knowledge transfer. Each has its place, each complements the other. These are not “either/or” choices, they are “both/and”.
Allows transfer of non-codifiable knowledge
Allows the knowledge user to gauge how much they trust the supplier
Easy and cheap
Allows systematic capture
Creates a secure long-term store for knowledge
Knowledge can be captured once and accessed many times
|Disadvantages||Risky. Human memory is an unreliable knowledge store
Inefficient. People can only be in one place at one time
People often don’t realize what they know until its captured
|Ineffective. Much knowledge cannot be effectively captured and codified.
Capturing requires skill and resource
Captured knowledge can become impersonal
Captured knowledge cannot be interrogated
|Transfer medium||Conversation, whether face to face or electronically mediated, or in team processes such as knowledge exchange, retrospect, peer assist||Content in the form of documents, files, text, pictures and video.|
|Need for balance||Managing conversation without content leads to personal rather than organisational learning. Unless new knowledge becomes embedded in process, guidance or recommendations, it is never truly “learned”, and without this we find knowledge becomes relearned many times.||A focus on content without conversation results in a focus on publishing; on creation of knowledge bases, blogs, wikis, as a proxy for the transfer of knowledge; on Push rather than Pull. But unless people can question and interrogate knowledge in order to internalise it, learning can be very ineffective.|
|Types of knowledge suitable for this form of transfer||Ephemeral rapidly changing knowledge, which would be out of date as soon as its written down
Knowledge of continual operations, where there is a large constant community
Knowledge needed only by a few
|Stable mature knowledge
Knowledge of intermittent or rare events
Knowledge with a large user-base
|Organisational demographics which suit this approach||A largely experienced workforce||A largely inexperienced workforce|
|Comments||One traditional approach to Knowledge Management is to leave knowledge in the heads of experts. This is a risky and inefficient strategy.||A strategy based only on capture will miss out on the socialization that is needed for culture change, and may fail to address some of the less codifiable knowledge.|