Photo: busy bees hungry for information on the best nectar

I was facilitating a workshop on knowledge management (KM) practice in May. Through a storytelling process the metaphor “hungry for communication” was created; meaning that collaborators are appreciating the “open door” culture in the office allowing to share and exchange their tasks and challenges within the team. Working in this open door culture where information is flowing allows the collaborators to see the big picture. Each is a specialist in her/ his field of work, responsible for different programmes. There was a strong ‘we-feeling’ and the team was proud about it. Behind this dynamic and successful team spirit is work as well as the awareness that a culture of mutual sharing needs constant nurturing. Setting time aside to reflect on the way of working and doing business is not self-evident. The two days workshop is prove that the management cares about team collaboration. And the team says thank you by staying “hungry for communication” to jointly achieve the best results.

At the end also the slogan ‘Stay hungry, stay foolish’ came up, the famous Standford speech of Steve Jobs where he has motivated the graduate students to stay curious in life, to explore the unknown. The same is true for knowledge management, it has a lot to do with openness and the desire to explore new and better options. It’s the culture within, within the organisation and within each of us that is challenged.

So what does the “hungry for communication” metaphor tell us about knowledge management?
In my experience the metaphor shaped by the team goes right into the heart what knowledge management is about.

  • KM is about communications. Knowledge management facilitates natural information and knowledge flow within and across a team and an organisation. It allows staff to access the information and knowledge they need to get the work done.
  • KM is about meaning. Challenging situations in the programme work become clearer and more understandable through joint reflection. Being in conversation allows seeing emerging challenging situations from different angels and in the bigger picture, allowing to make sense of them and facilitating finding solutions.
  • KM is about identity. Who we are as a team and as an organisation, what we are striving for. KM strengthens this togetherness, the joint vision and mission.

Which metaphors on KM did you shape or come across? What do these metaphors tell you?