Knowledge Capture and Wiki

June 9, 2009

Working with a company in the past we discussed how PLM could support the capture of knowledge. We did a brief analysis and realized that in the specific company situation it basically was to do with the with the lack of complete product definition. Although operating a ‘PDM’ system for some years it still lacked a holistic approach i.e. explicit knowledge stored at an all accessible place. The core of our recommendation was to address the issue of completeness and to also apply CMII principles about baselining.

Another company was struggling with the ever shorter product cycles (and need for faster innovation). Working with this company we realized that innovation to them meant to always using the same development approach and also understand the critical parameters that make-up the product. The same process meant the foundation for continuous improvement so we worked on the introduction of principles developed in other industries. We then developed and approach tagged as ‘house styles’. These house styles could be considered a series of templates that capture product platform ‘design rules’. In a previous post I talked about ‘front loading’, as a framework to comprise such house styles. House styles would be a combination of technical and organization rules. 1) Technical being the parameters that affect for example the product upscaling and corresponding output. 2) Organizational are rules how to drive the development forward from early concept, validation to production and delivery.

Two different situations, in the last case, as the stepping stone to the house styles, we recommended introduction of a Wiki as the foundation to capture tacit (the informal) knowledge. Basically it is to with digitization of the engineers ‘black note book’. The fact that our recommendation made sense is proven by the fact that more companies today use Wiki to ‘capture’ product and process knowledge. Engineers are encouraged to share their knowledge. That knowledge is stored against pre-created topics to provide an ‘knowledge structure’. Some Wiki using companies create incentives to this Wiki form of knowledge capture, as there may be reluctance for engineers to share it and also the fact that it would take effort from an engineer to write it down. In general one could argue rather than writing a reply to a question in an email, it makes more sense to first make an entry in a Wiki and then point to this instead. Knowledge reuse would be instant and creates double digit improved effectiveness and vast savings to avoid reinventing the wheel… and this is what knowledge capture is all about.

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