Learning in public

In a succinct post on the nature of knowledge management in a knowledge-intensive field, Jasmin Fodil looks at how rocket scientists learn. She shows how workers at the NASA Goddard Space Fight Center reapply their knowledge:

Goddard is doing a pretty good job of knowledge sharing:

The Knowledge Management life-cycle at Goddard seems solid to me; the focus is on the individual’s learning processes, structures, and needs, rather than content management systems, which is already leaps and bounds ahead of the curve, and there are many practices and resources to facilitate the process. Because of that, the system is unique in that is dovetails nicely with a socialized knowledge management system. People are already used to residing within a learning organization, and social software will enhance the on-the-ground process that are already so robust.

Notice that, “How Can I Learn It?” does not include sharing through information flows, such as blogs, wikis or micro-blogs (social media). As Fodil asks at the end of her article, I also wonder how much more effective the organization would be if most learning was in public, or was a “socialized knowledge management system”. Of course, Goddard may already be doing this. If not, there can be a lot of knowledge loss between discrete events such as the development of case studies or the collection of lessons learned. Workshops and case-based events may not be frequent enough. All of these are knowledge “stock” and I think there is much potential, in most organizations, to improve knowledge flow to connect these events.

PKM is my suggested framework to enhance knowledge flows in the organization by first focusing on the needs and desires of the individual and then making each person’s flow public (Seek-Sense-Share). Network learning requires sense-making in public. But, as Fodil concludes:

Sometimes learning in public is a difficult process, but the feedback, support, and resultant improvements are worth it.

Transparency is the first, and perhaps largest, hurdle in creating new management frameworks for a networked world. Learning in public makes our work transparent and can help us develop critical next practices in our increasingly complex workplaces. We all have to start thinking and working like rocket scientists.

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