My colleague, Nick Milton, shared these thoughts with me about the use of knowledge management in product development. He had attended a talk by a CEO of a product company that had bought into KM in a big way.Traditionally products are designed by engineers who assume that they have all the knowledge that they need to design the product. They assume that they have;
· technical knowledge
· knowledge about the customer and their needs
· knowledge about the intended market
· knowledge of how the product will be used
· etc, etc
Work begins and frequently delays are encountered while bugs are resolved and features are reworked.
The main messages were;
· gain customer knowledge by having the engineers meet with the customer and identify the really customer need or problem rather than assuming that you know what it is
· create a list of all the knowledge that is needed to create the product
· generate the knowledge that is on your list
· use a ‘knowledge gate’ to ensure that there are no knowledge gaps
· if you can pass the ‘knowledge gate’ proceed to design the product
Being an engineer I can relate to both parts of this but I have to say that I have never seen the later approach being used anywhere. Perhaps it is time for us engineers to start using the ‘knowledge gate’ concept when we are designing?