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Hello world!

Richard Karpinski 707 546-6760

Recent email:

Wider view of knowledge value

Usable knowledge is an asset worth developing, but its true value is created in actually using it to produce better products, better product producers, and indeed better management of the enterprise. The even broader value of knowledge used in the code of a product is of course in the improved effectiveness that the product makes available to its end users and their clients, ad infinitum.

The tradeoff curve sounds like particularly useful knowledge to have and highly valuable when it can be used. There are many other ways for knowledge to be usable in a product than just to be embodied in the code of that product. Most simply, one could use some specific knowledge as content in a tutorial product.

Any use of knowledge relies on potential users of it first finding and absorbing it. Management can and should be actively pursuing connecting their staff with the knowledge they can use to generate value. We call this coaching and find it much more valuable than the formal annual performance evaluation process that Deming denigrated.

Any responsible technical writer knows that the very process of converting knowledge into text does indeed create new insights as one struggles to find ways to get the point across to readers with different backgrounds, expertise, prejudices, personalities, intelligence, and so much more. For example, I currently struggle to avoid offending Peter whose ideas are valuable to me while also extending those ideas beyond what he said. Making this useful as well to Ron and Alan while satisfying my own urges to provoke and engage them makes this a target rich environment for adding value.

I'm not very good at it yet, but as I say repeatedly, anything worth doing is worth doing badly, at first. I don't often explicitly add that my plan is to do it repeatedly in the PDCA unending cycle since that makes me sound so much like the self important pompous ass I really am.

Can you get past those impediments, to perceive and receive value anyway? Peter? Ron? Alan? Anyone?


Written in response to:

On Sat, Jun 13, 2009 at 8:57 AM, Peter Alfvin <> wrote:

I can see both sides of this one. What ultimately matters, I believe, is usable knowledge. With respect to hardware products, a tradeoff curve has much wider applicability than a single design. The knowledge is reusable in the future. In software, until the knowledge is embodied in the code, it’s not usable in a product. But without tradeoff information, it’s much less usable for future products.

A “decision” that isn’t recorded for use is worthless. On the other hand, the recording process doesn’t create any new insights, so in that sense it’s necessary waste from a knowledge value stream perspective. Or is it? I guess it depends on whether you believe that knowledge should be tangible and whether recording adds value. I think Toyota would say yes, given its perspective on the A3. Another way to think of it is that it’s practically impossible for a design to fully exist other than in the code and that a tradeoff only exists as an expression.

So, I’m changing my mind. I think the discovery, decision and expression of are all potentially value add activities.

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