The Blog

How do you transfer “what if?”

I got a telephone call last week from a friend who is a rocket scientist…well, doesn’t everyone have a friend who is a rocket scientist? He asked about my research, because he wanted to tell me about a friend of his, who works for NASA, who called him earlier that day.

(Yes…this is the world in which I live.)

My friend said that they (NASA) are preparing to launch “some heavy stuff out there for a thing in the future” I didn’t ask! He continued. “But they have a problem. The let-go all their launch pad guys a few years ago and none of the young guys know what to do.”

I reminded my friend that I’m right in the middle of this knowledge capture research, “But they must have made videos of the process before they let-go all their old pros?” I said.

“Sure,” he replied. “But those videos don’t have a ‘what if’ button. If things don’t go exactly the way they are supposed to go…these young guys are stumped, they just stop working.”

_ Now, I’m sure we don’t need to be alarmed. NASA has some pretty sharp cookies on their team, so they certainly solved this problem. And I didn’t call NASA to verify this story…but I can’t imagine why my friend would make it up. Nevertheless, the message comes over loud and clear, simply codifying information from a knowledge holder does not provide the knowledge receiver with the ability to handle the What If? factor.

How can we improve this situation?

Knowledge is personal. Therefore knowledge capture must be personal. You may get tired of hearing this, but it’s true. Knowledge capture must be done in a way that considers the facts that humans will be the end user of captured knowledge. And, things go wrong!

Knowledge capture takes time. You can’t just record one quick session of a knowledge holder’s job on one day and then…think you are finished. The same activity, on different days, will likely produce different outcomes. Capturing those different results could allow the human who will receive the knowledge to see that circumstances vary, therefore the ability to adapt to variance is necessary.

Allow the knowledge holder to tell you when he or she feels that you’ve got it all. And, then, play it back for them. Odds are, you still got some work to do.




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