Seven rules

dice by ThunderChild tm
Seven rules for the KM-lords in their farm of cubes:
[Via Knowledge Jolt with Jack]

David Snowden has expanded his three rules to seven principles. Now I have to wonder if there are nine rules somewhere. And if there is One Rule to Bind them All. Rendering Knowledge (rules excerpted)

  • Knowledge can only be volunteered it cannot be conscripted. [original]
  • We only know what we know when we need to know it. [original]
  • In the context of real need few people will withhold their knowledge.
  • Everything is fragmented.
  • Tolerated failure imprints learning better than success.
  • The way we know things is not the way we report we know things.
  • We always know more than we can say, and we will always say more than we can write down. [original]

The four new elements sound familiar from David’s other writing. Taking time to think about these principles and the additional context David gives them, they begin to sound like common sense. Of course people learn from failures. Of course we build things from fragments of other things. But then why do we forget this common sense when building approaches to knowledge management? Maybe not so common?

Yes, these are common sense but so often not observed. Many organizations do not tolerate failure, making their lack of innovation obvious.

When I was in Junior High School, we played a game called bulls and cows. One person tried to guess a 4 digit number the other person had written down. If the guess has a number in the right position, it counts as a bull. If the guess has the right number in the wrong spot, it is a cow. So the correct answer results in 4 bulls.

Now there are about 4500 possible numbers (assume no repeated numbers and you can’t have a zero in the first position) so having some sort of system helps. Like start with ‘1234’. But the absolute best answer is ‘no bulls- no cows.’ Complete failure to guess the number.

This results in the removal of 40% of the possibilities in a single guess. No other choice is as helpful in narrowing down the possibilities. Failing actually gets you to the answer sooner than an initial success of 1 cow.

This game taught me that failure can be much more helpful than a slight success. We see that so much today. Failing does not usually cost too much and can get the group to success much more rapidly by reducing the degrees of freedom one has to work with. It is generally corporate culture that hampers this path.

Those organizations that can tolerate failure will learn faster and innovate at a much more rapid pace. Not necessarily because they are smarter. They are just informed by their failures, narrowing down the possibilities that eventually result in success.

Technorati Tags: , ,

5 thoughts on “Seven rules”

  1. The common sense rules are ones that your mother must have taught you!

    However you will notice that only BULLS count! Females need not apply.

    So you don’t need to listen to your Mother—she is a cow and doesn’t count.

  2. Untrue. The cows are important information carriers and much more likely to occur.

    Actually, we called the game bulls and creots but I have never been able to find out what a creot was.

  3. I also learned this game in the early 70’s under the name “bulls & creots” but I have to admit that calling it “bulls & cows” makes more sense. I also never knew what a “creot” was but now suspect it may have just been a nonsensical word used by some feminist to disguise the gender concept in the name with male/female counterparts. Although, a small group of us jokingly called it “bulls & croutons” because at least you can find “crouton” in the dictionary.

    I think it goes without saying that the board game known as MASTERMIND which uses colored pegs instead of numbers (and black/white pegs to convey the hit/miss/fail of a guess) is essentially the same thing.

    FWIW, Wikipedia lists the following as alternate names for Bulls & Cows: Bulls & Pigs; Bulls & Cleots (still with no explanation as to what a Cleot might be).

  4. I saw all the Wikipedia ones when I too tried to track down the meaning of creots. I did find this one calling the game “Boles and Creots“. At least a Bole is something.

    Perhaps is was originally called Boles and Cleots (or Creots) from the Norse and it just got corrupted as time went on. Like to know what a Cleot is, though.

Leave a Reply