There is more discussion bouncing around the idea of knowledge work and visibility, mostly collected by Jim McGee in Observable work - more on knowledge work visibility (#owork). The group has decided this is called "observable work." I've used "explicit" in my title simply to reference the long-running discussion of explicit-implicit-tacit in the knowledge management world.
I’m greatly encouraged by the discussion and debate we’ve already triggered. ... Here are some questions and ideas that i think are worth pursuing. Please feel free to join in the discussion and the effort as it unfolds;
- What can you do to make your own work more readily observable?
- How might making your work observable be immediately beneficial to you, even if no one else bothered to pay attention?
- Who else benefits if your work is more observable?
- How do you benefit from others making their work more observable?
- What risks and challenges do you need to manage as you make your work more observable?
I like the ideas behind these questions - at least the ideas that I read. In one vein, I can think purely about my own work and the mechanisms that help me get things done - and remember what I've done. Here I think heavily on the "personal effectiveness" or "personal knowledge management" ideas that arrive from many different directions. Some of them area geared towards what do I need to do next, such as the large time management category in bookstores. David Allen's Getting Things Done is often tossed into this bucket, but I see it as going well beyond time management. It's really about getting the hidden stuff out of my brain and into some kind of explicit / observable system that I can trust to help me take care of all the projects I have running.
The next two questions follow vein of this conversation - and one of the big reasons I evangelize on personal knowledge management. What I do clearly affects those around me. If I am hidden, disorganized and cluttered, my colleagues and family are affected. If I am visible, transparent, organized, my work should more clearly fit into that of my colleagues.
I could imagine a path of discussion that looks at similarity of systems: if our systems for being observable don't work with each other, then it's almost the same as not being observable at all. However I make my work visible, beyond being helpful for me, it should also be helpful to my colleagues and others around me who I expect to benefit. Sometimes, unfortunately, this is most obvious when there are desynchronizations: appointments forgotten, key responsibilities with others missed. For me, this often happens at home.
Because of the work I've been doing recently, I see the need for observable work in project management. And specifically, around hand-offs between chunks of work ("tasks"). The people on active work need to provide enough visibility, so that the next group knows when to expect their work to start; knows what has happened (or not) in the earlier chunk; and so that they can move as quickly as possible without having to re-do or re-learn anything that had been done before.
[Photo: "Observation Tower" by InAweofGod'sCreation]