More on Best Practices-Does reuse inhibit learning?

Arun Venkataraman with whom I have lenghty conversations about doing KM the right way suggested yesterday that a “reuse culture” may inhibit learning and innovation. I have been trying to see what people do after they find a knowledge asset(This could be a document, a video, a piece of code etc.,) in the best practices repository. They end up doing one of the following:

1. They see that the knowledge asset solves the problem out of the box. There is no difference in the context in which the knowledge asset was judged to a best practice and the current context. This is kind of classic reuse.

2. They see that the knowledge asset does not seem solve the current problem out of the box. They may find that the context is different. They call/IM/email the author and go into a Q & A mode trying to understand the original context and to see how the knowledge asset can be used in the current context.

3. They see that the knowledge asset does not seem solve the current problem out of the box. They may find that the context is different. They decide to discuss this with someone in the team to see if this can be customized in some way to suit their requirements. At times the best practice per se might not help but may lead to other ideas that solve the problem at hand.

Does learning take place in the above scenarios? I believe it does. Inevitably all of the above scenarios involve some form of learning listed below.( From Dave Pollard’s blog)

  1. Apprenticeship (“Watch me, and then you try it”)
  2. Being told (listening, reading)
  3. Classical conditioning (associative learning — “Aha, this always seems to correlate with this”)
  4. Coaching (“Next time try this”)
  5. Concept learning (learning to learn, putting two and two together — “Aha, I know what might work”)
  6. Emulation (“I see what he’s doing, but I think I know a better way to achieve the same end”)
  7. Imitation (“I can do that — watch”)
  8. Latent learning (“Well, that’s interesting, but it’s not immediately useful”)
  9. Local enhancement (“I see. That must be the right thing to do”)
  10. Model/rival learning (“The teacher is showing the other student how to do that. I get it. And I could do it better”)
  11. Observational enhancement (“I see. I know what I could do with that”)
  12. Operant conditioning (reward learning — “Give me another doughnut and I’ll do it again”)
  13. Playing
  14. Practice
  15. Question & answer (interviewing)
  16. Role modeling (“Wow, that’s good. Can I try now?”)
  17. Serendipitous learning (“Oops — hey, that’s interesting, we can use that”)
  18. Social facilitation (“Hey, that’s fun — you mean it’s also useful?”)
  19. Stimulus enhancement (“That got my attention, maybe I’ll try it sometime”)
  20. Trial and error

I guess reusing(or trying to reuse) a knowledge asset opens new avenues of learning rather than inhibiting it, provided one doesn’t blindly follow the suggested path.


2 thoughts on “More on Best Practices-Does reuse inhibit learning?

  1. The three options you list are all quite positive. What happens when someone comes across a knowledge nugget that appears to fit only to discover it doesn’t after further analysis (or by trying its recommendations)? One failed attempt, and many people give up.Regards,Jack Vinson

  2. JackThanks for pointing this out.The case you refer to happens if enough ground work is not done to ensure that a knowledge nugget is reusable.I agree that there was an assumption in my mind that only knowledge nuggets that have gone through some kind of a “reusablity check” (either by peers within the team or by a community) goes into te repository.Having a light weight process to do these checks would help reduce the number of failed attempts to reuse knowledge and build trust in the system.Usually a core team of subject matter experts could cull out patterns that can be used across a number of scenarios and get this validated by the community.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s