Rumizen writes in her outstanding book on knowledge management:
“Action, or the ability to take action, is what makes knowledge valuable. This is the most important criterion for knowledge within an organization. We not only assess what knowledge we need, but we also imagine what critical capability owning that knowledge give us.”
Maybe it allows us to serve clients better.
Maybe it helps us do our jobs faster.
Maybe it speeds up our learning curve for new employees.
Another way of saying it comes from my favorite leverage question:
Now that we have this, what else does this make possible?
Every startup should ask this question on a regular basis. Especially if that company has been around for more than a few years. Because odds are, there is an ocean of intellectual oil under their feet with nowhere to go. It’s simply a matter of where to drill.
Geologists know this better than anyone. To locate oil, they used advanced tools like gravity meters, magnetometers, electronic sniffers and seismic surveys that send shock waves into the earth, all of which help them find the prospective oil strike.
We do the same thing at our companies. We use our more human tools, like intention and attention, to sniff out the reservoirs of genius that are going underleveraged.
For instance, Hannah Theurer recently struck oil during our process improvement brainstorm. She noticed that our chat platform was the place where team members typically shared a lot of cool, small wins.
But the problem is, that knowledge was getting buried in that channel and was never seen or used again. Hannah’s idea was to build an internal database of small wins, use cases, mini case studies, tests, experiments, learnings, insights, tools, strategies and other cool successes. Genius.
Thanks to her, it’s not hard to imagine what critical capability owning that knowledge will give us. It’s perfect content for sales calls, weekly meetings, even daily communications with clients. And down the road, when that ocean of oil reaches critical mass, perhaps it becomes a proprietary data set our company becomes known for. Who knows?
Daniel Plainview, the great petroleum executive, said it best at the height of his career.
“If I say I’m an oil man, you will agree. Now, you have a great chance here, but bear in mind, you can lose it all if you’re not careful. Out of all men that beg for a chance to drill your lots, maybe one in twenty will be oilmen, the rest will be speculators. But you have to act quickly, because very soon these fields will be dry.”
If you’re thinking about drilling down into the source rock of your organization, focus on how that knowledge will increase your ability to take action.
Now that you have this, what else does this make possible?