Top Gun and knowledge management © Paramount Pictures
Sometimes writing is just too slow.
A couple of weeks ago I was on a GoToMeeting session with Bob Batcheler of Newforma. Batch and I were developing content for a webinar called “Transforming data into knowledge: PIM and knowledge management.” Batch had prepared his thoughts on project information management and I had prepared my slides on knowledge management. Our GoToMeeting session was the first time we had combined our slides and we were working through the mechanics of stitching our complementary narratives together.
I presented first. I quickly found myself scribbling note after note after note in my journal. Every time I would get a bit of momentum going, Batch would interject and throw out a question or build on my ideas. Which in turn lead me to reframe or clarify my thinking in ways in which I wanted to remember for our live performance. Hence the mad scribbling.
The problem with the mad scribbling approach was that it was too slow. In the middle of a burst of new ideas I’d say, “Hang on Batch – slow down, I want to capture this.”
After several minutes of me imposing a “burst-capture, burst-capture” rhythm Batch suggested we just record the GoToMeeting session so that I could stop taking notes and focus on producing a stronger story. Because recording a GoToMeeting session captures both audio and video, I could “study the film” later to pick up any changes, notes, or techniques worth incorporating.
Record the GoToMeeting session. It was so obvious.
My first “game film.”
Not only did recording the joint-writing session capture the raw ideas I was trying to write down – I also captured the tone, pacing, and inflection of my new “talking points.”
At one point, Batch really liked how I opened a particular slide. I said, “hit this point hard, right here and pause for effect” into my microphone knowing that I was leaving myself a trail of notes to pick up later. In effect, I was “pre-coaching” myself.
After our meeting was finished, Batch uploaded the video to me. I watched the film several times, harvesting the best parts and eliminating the filler bits. Recording the collaborative session improved both the quality of our webinar and improved my ability to recall the essence of the ideas we co-authored. (I’m sure it will also be amusing to look back on it later.)
Best of all, I had learned a new technique for creating and capturing knowledge. I called it my “game film.”
Meanwhile, in the office next door…
I have previously written about our methodology for performing Deltek Vision – Newforma Project Center (DV-NPC) integrations to illustrate how Knowledge Architecture invests in knowledge management. In this blog post, I explain how Brian created a checklist to transfer his knowledge of performing integrations to Chad. I also pointed out the limitations of checklists for knowledge transfer:
But there is more to bringing Chad up to speed on DV-NPC integrations than handing over the the knowledge explicitly contained in the checklist. Brian also has experience and intuition (tacit knowledge for the KM geeks out there) which are not so simple to codify in a document. Our tactic here is for Chad to shadow Brian on enough DV-NPC integration engagements so that Chad can take over primary responsibility for delivering them in the future. And of course, Brian will always be available as a backstop for questions.
Back to the brainstorming example above. I told the KA team about the experience I had with Batch at our next weekly meeting. As I began to enumerate the benefits of recording GoToMeeting sessions Chad interjected,
“Yeah, that’s a cool idea. I recorded the GoToMeeting session of the last DV-NPC integration I did with Brian last week. Good tip though.”
Chad went on to explain how valuable recording the integration process (several hours in length) had been. Not only did he capture the step by step process of tying the two systems together, he also captured Brian’s perspective on why he did things the way he did as well as his experience in handling exceptions that might come up in other customer environments.
Chad found his way to recording the GoToMeeting session for the same reason that I did. Instead of scribbling “one-dimensional” notes, Chad was able to capture the rich knowledge contained in the video and his conversation with Brian.
After the integration was completed, Chad studied (and continues to study) the “game film” much like a professional football coach reviews the tapes from Sunday’s game on a Monday to improve the plan for the next week. Or a surgeon reviews her latest operation to improve her technique. Or a group of fighter pilots (see Top Gun above) have “rankless, nameless debriefs” to accelerate the learning process of the whole squadron by performing root cause analysis of the flight plan’s execution to transfer lessons learned.
Another knowledge management tool for your toolbox
Over the past several months I have written about the knowledge management tools that we use at Knowledge Architecture. Add game films to that list.
While game films are new to us, we have lots of ideas about how we can use them — documenting complex procedures, facilitating group learning and knowledge transfer, training new staff, and collaborating on process improvement come to mind.
We’ll keep you posted on our progress in implementing this new tool.