A KM Safety Briefing

I’m writing this mid-air over France, en route to a workshop in Warsaw. I’ve done my preparation, and the somewhat lengthy journey has turned my thoughts to more whimsical matters. Forty-two hours of travelling for an eight hour workshop gives plenty of time for whimsy.


It struck me, during the pre-take-off safety briefing just now, that we don’t give safety briefings for KM projects, and maybe we should. After all, KM projects are notoriously disappointment-prone, and this must pose some risk to the brave knowledge managers who venture out on them. A few things have probably primed me in this thought, not least the recent reminder that KM activists would do well to be bullet-proof, and the rapid turnover we’ve seen of KM staff in some organizations we know.

So what would such a safety briefing look like? Maybe something like this:

“Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, welcome to your KM initiative for this year. Please pay attention to the safety features of this project. While many KM projects look alike, each one has its own distinctive features.

This is a non-smoking project. Smoking is harmful to positive knowledge sharing behaviours during a KM project because of bad breath. [Author’s note: harmful as smoking is, this increasingly persecuted minority is, when huddled on the back fire escape, a very good example of an egalitarian knowledge sharing community, which suggests that persecution may be an under-exploited strategy for promoting positive knowledge sharing behaviours] .

Please stow your documents in the repositories provided or under the shelf in front of you. During everyday work, your documents may become disarranged, so please take extra care when opening and using your personal folders. All documents should be properly arranged and tagged for project commencement and closure, or for taking over a role and handing it over.

In the event of a sudden drop in management interest in KM, alternative job masks will drop from the panels above you. Please look after your own mask first before attending to the needs of others. Your escape routes are being indicated to you now. This KM project has eight escape routes, two at the top in corporate planning, four in the middle in HR and Organisation Development, and two at the rear in IT. Please take a moment to check the nearest escape route to you now.

All non-authorised collaboration and sharing channels must now be switched off. Personal electronic devices may be used during the project, but must be switched off during project kick-off and close-out. Collaboration media such as instant messenger, blogs and wikis may interfere with our sense of control, and may not be used at any time. It is a pleasure to have you on board, and we hope you will have a pleasant project.”

3 Comments so far


This really appeals to me. Probably because I am starting to feel like my rear end is permananently attached to an aeroplane seat at the moment - but also because so many senior managers do not understand the emergent nature of KM projects.
One we are working on at the moment, I have titled the treasure hunt.  Each time we think we have found a solution it just leads to another better solution (this is an IT KM enabler based on Open Source software - don’t expect a leading edge solution in the commercial environment - they are not in the game.  All out best fits have been in the “not-for-profit” - just fascinating - we are keeping a record of the journey for future reference)

Posted on March 22, 2007 at 09:05 AM | Comment permalink

Patrick Lambe

It sounds fascinating Nerida, and from the snippets on actKM it looks like you are doing fantastic work. When are you going to start a blog so that your journey (suitably sanitised of course) can be shared?

Posted on March 23, 2007 at 04:17 PM | Comment permalink

Patrick - I really don’t have time to blog and most people would find it very boring (unless I got talking about mating my alpaca this morning).  We had a fascinating stop on our journey on Friday at http://www.educationau.edu.au - a company which sits under the Australian Federal and State Education Ministers.  All their development is done in the OPen SOurce arena and is some of the most advanced I have seen anywhere - I suspect the commercial market is nowehere close to the OPen Source market.  See also http://www.edna.edu.au for the most incredible virtaul CoPs I have ever seen.

Posted on March 24, 2007 at 03:15 PM | Comment permalink

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