Thank you for your response to my posting. I learned something new about
the danger of abstracts: they're abstract!
> You mention something in your abstract, however, which I consider an
> inaccurate and narrow interpretation of corporate - or any other -
> memory and a necessary condition for that to occur or work. That is
> the statement "to be captured and managed this information must first
> be made explicit."
> Can anything but a small portion of that knowledge ever be made
Your concern about making knowledge explicit is well-founded. Aren't
we perilously close to making the error of treating *knowing* as
merely *having* certain discrete chunks of *information*?
Well, that's not my intention. My whole focus is on using a shared
display of a conversation to help create shared understanding. It
turns out that by making certain key elements of the problem solving
process explicit, you can help each speaker better understand what
they're trying to say. And by putting these key elements in a shared
display, you help everyone on the team see the *relationships* between
all the different points of view in the room. In addition to the rich
tacit knowledge of each player, you have a dynamic map which is a
model of the conversation (with all of its confusion and
inconsistency), and the model helps creates shared understanding. (I
sense I'm being dangerously abstract here. Well, I guess I'll find
The central claim of the paper is that by making certain specific
conversational elements (i.e., IBIS: questions, ideas, pros, and cons)
explicit, you cultivate an environment of sharing and learning, and
you create, as a *byproduct* of this process improvement, the kind of
"explicit informal knowlege" that is needed to make organizational
memory effective. Put another way, you facilitate a large-scale
conversation, and the resulting "narrative database" provides the
until-now missing element of *context* to the organizational memory.
(I'm fairly certain that's too dense.)
To be more concrete: one use of these maps is in helping a person or
group tell a story about the decision they have made. We view a
decision (any decision) as simply a choice based on feelings, and
backed up with a story that, ideally, makes the decision compelling
for the people impacted by it. The IBIS map depicts the rationale
behind the decision, so as people learn about the decision they can
see the process that went into making it, including the options that
were considered and rejected, and the reasons why. The rationale
becomes part of the narrative that goes with the decision, and gives
others in the organization a sense of participating (in "fast
forward") in the process. If there is additional input, or even if
the decision has to be "unmade" or remade, the map permits anyone to
jump in fully informed and expand on the exploration, adding new
information, points of view, whatever. The context is preserved, and
other knowledge workers who come along later do not have to wonder
"Why did they do it THAT way?," nor to reinvent the wheel.
As a bit more context for my work: my company has been doing a meeting
facilitation training course called "Creating Collaborative Meetings"
and most of these ideas have grown up over the years within the
course. The book I am working on, tentatively titled "The Information
Paradox: When Information Defeats Understanding", puts the learning
from the course into book form. The paper on Organizational Memory
which I offered on this list is meant to be a chapter in the book.
-- Jeff Conklin, Chief Scientist, Corporate Memory Systems, Inc. 11824 Jollyville Road, Suite 101, Austin, Texas 78759 512 918/8000 Voice 512 918/9600 Fax Email: email@example.com WWW: http://www.cmsi.com/info