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Kindergarten Lessons

One of my favorite books I never read is “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” by Robert Fulghum. A few of his examples of important lessons taught to five year olds are: Share everything; Play fair; Don’t hit people; Clean up your own mess; Don’t take things that aren’t yours; Flush. How can you disagree with those examples? By extrapolating them in to adult terms they make good, common sense reminders on how the world would be a better place if we all continued to follow them.

I thought about his book on our youthful lessons when I read #4 of the Secretary and Chief of Staff of the Army’s 12 Knowledge Management Principles, “Use every interaction whether face-to-face or virtual as an opportunity to acquire and share knowledge.”

The rationale behind principle #4 is that continuous learning is an expected day-to-day activity for soldiers and we can better accomplish learning by accelerating knowledge acquisition and transfer. Or as Fulghaum so aptly said it, “Share Everything.” Army Knowledge Management Principles create a consistent framework so warfighters can innovate, evaluate alternate courses of actions within context of local conditions, and act quickly and decisively.

Of course knowledge sharing already happens through meetings or roundtables, casual encounters in hallways, or in a social settings, like a dinner party or on the golf course. But the knowledge is passed mouth to mouth with little permanent record. And if others within the same organization need the information but were not privy to the discussion, must often go it alone to possibly solve a problem that has quite possibly been already successfully done.

By understanding what the inhibitors of a good KM program are and working to overcome them will allow us to chart a course, that is define a strategy, for capturing our resident knowledge and sharing it with everybody. It’s so easy a kindergartener can do it.