The nature of attribute interaction changes with the thinking terrain

December 16, 2009

‘Development” vs. “production” phases of enterprise represent very different kinds of thinking. So much so that I began to characterise these as different “terrains” of thought, as different as mountains (eg the Urals, the Alps, the Rockies) are from plains (eg the Steppes, the Great Plains, the Tundra). The nature of attribute interaction changes in these terrains.

For example, we need to be clear about how attribute knowledge is brought to bear in knowledge development activities. (such as planning, or product development, or new product introduction.) In those contexts the proximity of dialog is far more important. Deep, tacit knowledge of the way things that “should” be done can be done, is as vital as knowledge of the latest explicit regulation.

What if we design conversations for Development (a la Toyota Obeya), and then rely on all embedded knowledge to flow from that context? We then have a different skill set engaged in the embedded knowledge maintenance.

This move brings to the surface a great deal of complexity and subtlety that is at play in knowledge management, but that is not addressed. I found no power in most of the blunt approaches that couldn’t work with such fundamental distinctions as “development” vs “production”. But I rejected the idea that we then had to unleash complexity in ways that bewildered everyday attribute managers (safety guys, for example.) The Lite Systems began to grow in ways that attended to this reality.

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