Title: Learning to Fly: Practical Knowledge Management from Leading and Learning Organizations
Authors: Chris Collison and Geoff Parcell
Before 2016 and the publication of The Knowledge Manager's Handbook, (see previous post, Book 17 of 30)) I would have said Learning to Fly is the book to give as a practical how-to handbook on Knowledge Management. My copy is an "updated edition with free CD-ROM", which tells you something about its age. Published initially in 2001, I see it as the first comprehensive how-to handbook.
Between Nick Milton, Patrick Lambe and Chris Collison, you probably have the three best known KM consultants combining many, many years of hands-on experience. Although, perhaps they are better known in a general sense precisely because they've written books and are very active on social media. I think of them as generalists. There are others in the field who have either less global name recognition or who work in narrower niches within KM. Now that I think of it, two women come to mind and they've also written books (Nancy Dixon and Katrina Pugh). It's also quite possible that my perception is heavily biased by who I follow or don't follow on social media.
One of the stronger concepts or terms I've relied on that probably came from this book is "learning before, during and after." I haven't necessarily used that phrase but I like the emphasis on learning (rather than managing knowledge), and since I've worked mostly in project-based environment, the before, during and after framework worked well. We learn from prior projects to plan our new project well, we learn during the project to make course corrections as necessary, we reflect after we're done to not repeat mistakes and to allow others not to repeat our mistakes. This is oversimplified but it really helps projects get a sense that you don't just collect lessons learned at the end of the project before moving on to the next task.
Over the years, I've learned that a group reflection conversation (AAR or whatever else you want to call it) takes on different characteristics depending on where the group or team is in terms of the project life cycle. Newly formed teams have different conversations from teams that have worked together for years.
- If I'm going to be a successful consultant, I should write a book.... (Not so fast... do I actually have anything unique and valuable to say?). Not right now. It's brewing. It needs to percolate. It needs active percolation. My semi-sabbatical year should help. No pressure.
- Write down some insights about how the timing of a group reflection activity along the project life cycle affects the nature of the conversation and perhaps should affect the facilitation.
- Do a review of who I follow on various social media as KM experts and who I consider a KM expert but don't follow. Adjust as needed.