Thursday, January 30, 2020

Knowledge Management and Critical Thinking

Tara Mohn led a presentation and discussion today at the monthly face-to-face meeting of the KM Community of DC Meetup about mindful KM facilitation.  The discussion reminded me of two related discussions:

1. Words matter in KM conversations and the terms mindful and mindfulness are so often associated with meditation that they may not be appropriate for some workplace cultures.  There are alternatives that can get the same message across.  One such alternative is "critical thinking."

2. Some components of KM, such as the development of job aids, best practices, templates, etc... which are designed to ensure that employees do not unnecessarily reinvent the wheel can go overboard by being too prescriptive.  Equally important, and potentially dangerous within a younger and less experienced workforce, SOPs, templates and similar knowledge management tools can lead to "mindless" cut-and-paste and the absence of critical thinking, which in the end is the opposite of what a knowledge management effort should encourage.

When pressed to deliver under tight schedules, employees are looking for shortcuts.  Knowledge Management efforts need to find the right balance between facilitating access to job aids, templates and SOP on the one hand, and the critical thinking that is required to use those tools effectively, knowing when and how to adapt them to specific needs.