Learning and Structuring

Learning & Structuring

Learning & Structuring

We all learn many things, but very often we forget them, including what we read, what we hear and what we see, and even including what we learned in classrooms or training workshops.  Why ?

From a conversation of a famous speaker in reply to a question from the audience on how  to remember things that he read, he replied: 你是否學到一些東西,加得到你的知識架構裡面,即是說,要有一個鉤,能夠鉤得到你的知識架構才有用,如果不是的話,你就會很容易忘記的。

What he said, in my interpretation is:

  • It is a matter of whether the knowledge so acquired can add into the existing framework of your own knowledge.  It is a fitting process.
  • When there is a structure, it will be much easier to remember them and apply in real life
  • Of course, there would be other factors too, such as relevancy, practice, etc.

In simple terms, what I learned from this is:

Learning to remember requires re-organizing the knowledge to fit into our knowledge framework


This actually echoes and explains my experience in building of the knowledge base using BYOS methodologies in the BayGO approach.  In the experience of building a knowledge base, we are actually re-organizing knowledge content.  To organize the content, we need to come up with a framework or structure that we feel comfortable.  This process is very significant.  I guess it is a common knowledge that when things are organized, they are easy to find (retrieve).  Getting knowledge content to organize is actually a process of classification, or in KM's terminology it is taxonomy.

As a matter of fact, the process of organizing the knowledge content is not that simple.  It takes time.  In fact, it might takes longer time than expected.  It is not uncommon that we have to make changes back and forth.  That's basically the problem of taxonomy in real life.  It is a tacit knowledge.  That's why I mentioned the BayGO approach, meaning Build-as-you-GO.  Don't push for a perfect solution because there is none.  What is considered perfect today, might not be the same tomorrow.  Simply because the world is changing.  The market is changing.  Our customers are changing.  Our focus would also change because of all these.  Therefore the key is just the solution.  The key is the flexibility of change, and when it comes, change it in the right manner.

To make things work, we need a tool.  The tool fitting to me is BYOS, because I can easily customize the content structure myself, organize them, apply taxonomy, and make changes as many time as I like.  The flexibility that I don't have to rely on other people is very important unless I have an IT person who can work like my secretary or assistant, and make changes when I need it.  Even though there are small changes, if they takes to long to be fixed, the line of thoughts will lose its momentum, and focus will change.

There is actually another very distinctive advantage.  The knowledge structure in our brain is tacit knowledge.  Sometimes we may not even know how it works, but it just works.  When we have such a tool, and when we create this knowledge base, we are codifying not only the knowledge content, but also the fitting structure.  That's probably another reason why it takes time as mentioned above, as well as back-and-forth changes.  When the structure becomes visible, organizing the content also becomes logical and much easier.

If this is done in an organization, a well-defined structure of different types of knowledge content should also help establishing a standard in learning, understanding which should also increase efficiency.

In fact, the availability of a flexible tool also facilitates the process of acquisition and repository.  The already established knowledge structure helps me to think what I really need, what are important and what needs to be focused, which is actually brought to us not because of the tool or platform, but because of the framework and structure we establish.

The BYOS platform is an IT platform, which is true.  Most people consider that an IT system and run away but I don't think so   It is difficult to understand without experience it.  Not because it does not require coding.  It is more because of the thinking process.  When we designing the knowledge repository, the focus is data, content, structure, business analysis, workflow and user experience.  If I would have to say, it's a design process rather than IT.  Maybe we can say it is IT design.  IT people normally define the scope with the system as a product and stop there.  For the KM people, it is just the start.  The platform is just a tool, but a very satisfactory tool to me for this purpose, to help me to go through this framework and structure process.  In fact, who does not rely on IT today?  As a matter of fact, I consider this a perfect tool for digital transformation for organizations, because it makes people think, experience, and think again.

If we go further into the framework, we would go into the areas of content structure, taxonomy, and search.  In an organization, we also need to consider how to come up with a proper structure and taxonomy which fit most users in a proper context.  Search, findability, usability are crucial.  Taxonomy needs to be managed and changed from time to time.  This is, however, a blind area.  It is very likely that users feel something is wrong, but they cannot tell you exactly what is wrong.  To work on these, it requires the IT systems to provide tools such statistics, analytics and user habits, which forms a closed-loop for managing knowledge and taxonomy.

For those who are interested, there is a video describing the experience of setting up a knowledge base, but it is narrated in Cantonese.  It is a bit long, taking 50 minutes.  But there are a lot of information with explanation and illustrations.

The YouTube Video