posts tagged with the keyword ‘knowledge’

2016.01.07

KIS

I’ve been thinking about this triangle consisting of three elements: Knowledge, Ideas, and Skills, and how people have these three things.

Knowledge is the things that you learn. The bits of data that you collect over the years, either from reading, or experience, or just taking in the world around you.

Skills involve actually doing things. Building things, writing code, designing stuff. Going beyond theories and ideas to create.

Ideas are what you bring to the table. Your own thoughts and dreams, as it were. The spark that ignites the creation of something.

Ideally you’d want to be right in the center, and be equally strong with Knowledge, Ideas, and Skills. Though perhaps as you exist in the center your strength at each one diminishes. Perhaps there are the rare individuals who can excel at all three, but in thinking about people I know (and myself) it’s probably more likely that people hit one or two of them strongly, and a third not as much.

I used to know a guy who was a phenomenal guitar player. His technical skills were amazing, and his knowledge was up there, he knew tons of songs and could play them perfectly. Sadly, his ideas were lacking, and he wasn’t much of a songwriter. Luckily he was in a band (a team) where others could provide the ideas. This is what teams should do, right? Bring together members with different strengths to create something better than what just one person can do.

In my own work (and play) knowledge is something I’m always chasing after. I spend a lot of time reading, and occasionally I ask questions. I tend to make a lot of notes as well, which helps, because I just can’t remember everything. I figure if I can remember where I stored some bit of information, that’s good enough.

And then there’s skills… Acquiring skills takes time, and practice, and doing things over and over again, and applying the knowledge you’ve acquired to the thing you’re trying to do. Design work, using tools, manipulating materials, writing words, capturing images… they all fall under skills.

As for ideas, I have plenty of them, I’m sure some (ok, most) of them are bad, or ridiculous. Often I go with the ridiculous ideas to see where it takes me, and along the way I hone my skills and acquire more knowledge. Occasionally in doing so I create a thing, and I enjoy the process and the journey.

Maybe I should call this the KIS Principle (Knowledge, Ideas, Skills) for short.

Disclaimer: I don’t pretend to know what I’m talking about, and when I write this sort of thing it’s really just an exploration of my thoughts, typed out on the screen. Occasionally I feel like sharing these thoughts with the world.

2014.03.26

wiki

I’ve long been a proponent of wikis as knowledge bases within organizations. Since I discovered WikiWikiWeb in 2000, I was struck by the power and simplicity of wikis. (This was a year before the launch of Wikipedia, and many years before most people had even heard of Wikipedia!)

The first wiki I launched for a company started small, and eventually grew into a tool the Interactive department used for crucial information used by the staff. Some people believe that keeping data locked up within their own notes—or worse, just inside their own brains—creates job security. If no one else knows how something works, you become invaluable. My argument goes the opposite way, that creating a wiki and sharing all the knowledge shows your commitment to the health and well being of an organization.

During a job interview in 2006 I mentioned how I left behind a 200+ page wiki at my previous position, and without a doubt, that was the one thing that brought up the most questions from my interviewer. (The position wasn’t right for me, but I always secretly hoped they launched an internal wiki.)

Inc Magazine has a nice article titled A Micromanager’s Guide to Trust, with this great bit:

At Staff.com, Martin came up with a novel solution: He created a wiki that describes how to handle some 500 operational issues.

Exactly!

While I’m sometimes a bit too busy to do all the wiki maintenance I’d like to do, the Milwaukee Makerspace wiki has grown to become the operational manual for the organization. This is even more important when you realize that each year a new group of leaders is elected to the Board of Directors. And since the group is a “club” and not an “employer” people are free to leave when they want. (Meaning, there’s no firing or laying people off, but we do have to deal with people who just “disappear” sometimes.)

To me, this all goes back to the original idea of why I find/found the Internet so interesting. It’s about sharing information, openly and freely, with others. It’s about storing knowledge and having it easily retrievable. Wikis accomplish these things, and for that, I am mighty grateful.

(Oh, and my favorite wiki for the past fear years has been DokuWiki. Check if out if you need to implement a wiki for your organization.)

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