I wash my hands of those who
imagine chattering to be knowledge.
Silence to be ignorance,
and affection to be art
– Gibran Khalil Gibran
It has been said that knowledge is a matter of people, it has been also said that the amount of knowledge we share is about 20% where the other 80% remain untold and unshared hidden in our minds, I personally believe that to be true.
Knowledge is luckily unique, even for people working the same kind of job, skills or trades. As long as it is a matter of people, each person collects and retain that knowledge accordingly to nature, personality and comprehension, we may also add according to the nature of exposure, etc.
Our knowledge is similar to a bank account, the savings start at birth and keep growing as our mind and consciousness is nurtured at home, school, social and professional steps in our lives.
When a senior goes on retirement we tend to think the loss is the employer’s in the case there is no mechanism to retain such critical knowledge that would benefit the industry. I do agree, yet I believe that the person who leaves for retirement is also losing an occasion to make this valuable knowledge benefit other people as well.
If some think that storing information is collecting knowledge, thus keeping safe important information for a business, to tell you honestly it would be burying tons of files and documents into these ultra-sophisticated virtual vaults for no benefits at all. How many people within the organization would be aware, would be able to reach such information. The person who made me discover the principles of Knowledge Culture used to say (repeatedly) “once knowledge is confined in a document it is virtually lost, keep in mind Knowledge is a matter of people talking to people”.
I confess I felt annoyed at first to hear that same phrase on and on, but soon I found out how right he was! I’ll explain using a simple example. I do not like tinkering, thus I call the plumber or the electrician when I need to make some repairs at my place. I once called for an electrician, a senior guy came, amazingly knowledgeable, a person who spent a lifetime fixing, helping desperate clients, but also a person who learned will the bells and whistles of the trade, those “thingies” no book or no course will ever teach. During the time he spent to finish the repair, during the time we had a little chat at the end he expressed his disappointment, calling it his “failure”, as we was on his last couple of years before retirement but had no apprentice whom he had trained and made sure his trade will continue. It is hard for a senior specialist to admit, in such cases, his own responsibility.
I kept thinking about this incident, trivial in appearance but how critical and important: a wealth of know-how was a risk to be lost.
The words my mentor used to drown me with, came back, Knowledge is a matter of people speaking to people.
Every person owns a fair amount of knowledge, every person needs to care sharing it with others (peers) also before such knowledge becomes obsolete… Knowledge culture is dynamic, there are almost no records stating knowledge is stored for the centuries to come.
I like the expression: Pay it forward, it describes in simple words the true sense of Knowledge Culture.
So who is next?
Until the next chat,
Michel – July 3, 2015