Guest Blogger Charles J Korecki

Charles likes to describe himself as an eclectic "dabbler". He lives, works, and plays in NE Ohio. He is grateful to his wife and daughter for their unwavering support.

by Charles J Korecki

    By a show of virtual hands, who has heard the ubiquitous philosophical question: if a tree falls in a forest—and no one is around to hear it—does it make a sound? This question seems to bob perennially in the flotsam and jetsam of our cultural milieu. Though the question may seem equally silly, do you know what 2.5kHz sounds like? More importantly, can you recognize it when it's ringing out of your monitors and the overpaid talent on stage is throwing daggers at you like you've just run over her Shar Pei with a Segway? If you think I am exaggerating, be sure to check out the footage from a recent Donald Trump rally in Pensacola (Real Clear Politics, 2016). How would you like to be that sound engineer? If you know what 2.5kHz sounds like, how did you learn? If you know why The Donald's mic was popping, where did you find that knowledge? Was it in a book? (Probably not.) Knowing the sound of a particular frequency, knowing that Elation's Platinum Spot 5R's go "silly" if they sit without DMX for too long, or even knowing the proper way to pack gear in a truck all get the heart of what's called tacit knowledge. For those of us in the trenches of the Live Event Industry, tacit knowledge is that "experience" that separates the seasoned veterans from the new box pushers.

 

I had the good fortune recently to view a short YouTube video by the Association for Project Management (2015). The video does a respectable job of explaining the difference between explicit knowledge (knowledge which is documented, such as that written in books) and tacit knowledge (knowledge that is inside us and exists through us). Explicit knowledge is the knowledge contained in the various manuals, articles, and journals that litter our shop's break room. Tacit knowledge is the "stuff" that saves our jobs and reputations during gigs. It's the knowledge you wish you had the first time you solo on a gig. So, if tacit knowledge is so vital, how do we acquire it?

The whole goal of knowledge management (KM) is to enable us to not only capture this tacit knowledge but to package it in such a way that the knowledge is accessible "wherever and whenever it is needed" (Becerra-Fernandez and Sabherwal, 2015). The video I mentioned by APM (Association for Project Management, 2015) argues that you cannot really capture knowledge. The video incorporates a great visual of trying to force "knowledge" into a cage. If you have a good memory, you might remember the point in last week's blog when I asked the difference between KM and Information Management. Well, that question comes into play here. You can capture information. You can record it, write it on a page, type it into a wiki, etc. However, that information becomes knowledge when other users are able to find that information and apply it to the current situation—especially if that knowledge leads to a new discovery or solution.

How do we acquire tacit knowledge?

The answer is more obvious than it may seem. In the Live Event industry, we acquire knowledge the old fashioned way—by doing it. Our industry is project ​based. Our tools do not vary all that much: lighting equipment, sound equipment, video equipment, etc. Yet the solutions we create often are unique to the project or event at hand. The APM video (2015) covers various methods of knowledge transfer from apprenticeships, to hierarchies, to networks. The live event industry uses a hybrid of each of these methods to bring a project from inception to fruition. Producers, designers, project managers, technicians, and the client all have roles to play. If we are open to the possibility, we can learn a great deal from working with our team members. Unfortunately, we still have some work to do until we achieve what the APM folks called the "holy grail"—a knowledge sharing culture (2015). As you can see from this picture (at left) of a recent truck pack, someone failed to put their knowledge to good use.

My takeaway for this week is a challenge to you. As I develop these blog posts you will discover that one of the keys to successful knowledge management is YOU! Each of us must work to create a culture where we are celebrated for sharing our knowledge with each other. This lesson dovetails nicely with what Irma Becerra-Fernandez and Rajiv Sabherwal (2015) refer to as experience management. "Because KM systems provide access to explicit company knowledge, it is easy to learn from previous experience" (Becerra-Fernandez and Sabherwal, 2015). I know it's fun to give the newbies a hard time, but just because you made a mistake doesn't mean you have to let them make the same mistakes.

It all comes down to this

Our knowledge—our experience—sets us apart from other production companies. Our knowledge is an asset to this organization, but only if we can capitalize on that knowledge by sharing it with our coworkers. I challenge you to be more open with the tacit knowledge that exists within each of you. Each of you is a warehouse of knowledge—of experience—that benefits no one if you keep it bottled up.

References

Association of Project Managers. (2014, April 10). We really need to talk about knowledge management [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HwMzpJa6Y-w&feature=youtu.be

Becerra-Fernandez, I., & Sabherwal, R. (2015). Knowledge management: systems and processes (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.

Korecki, C. J. (Photographer). (2015). Bad truck pack [photograph]. Unpublished.

Real Clear Politics. (2016, January 14). Donald Trump complains about mic at Pensacola Rally: "Don't pay the SOB that put it in" [Video File]. Retrieved from http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2016/01/14/donald_trump_complains_about_mic_at_pensacola_rally_dont_pay_the_sob_that_put_it_in.html

Guest Blogger Charles J Korecki

Charles likes to describe himself as an eclectic "dabbler". He lives, works, and plays in NE Ohio. He is grateful to his wife and daughter for their unwavering support.

ckorecki AT kent.edu 330-328-0615