The last forty eight has been an interesting period for observation of knowledge management in practice. I reported problems with my Powerbook some days ago. The fault turned out to be a damaged logic board and the large dent in the casing immediately above the said logic board; a result of one of the three significant drops the Powerbook suffered in the last two and half years. I am now the proud possessor of a new Macbook as a holding operation until the new super lightweight Mac is available later in the year. In the process of getting to this state I had some great examples of KM in action.

Learning from failure: in my past I have failed to apply a disciplined disc backup regime with disastrous consequences, as a result of that I have a near paranoid backup regime. A large hard disc at home with a weekly backup cycle, a portable hard disc backed up each morning and a when on line backup of email and calendars. So when the screen froze and I couldn’t get access to anything I didn’t panic.

Learning from experience: when I took the Powerbook into the Apple Store to the Genius Bar to find out how bad things were. Now the Genius Bar is a brilliant invention, it gives me better and more effective service as an independent consultant than I had from the IT support within IBM. I was lucky on this occasion as the genius in question spent most of his time in hardware repairs. He diagnosed the problem as being the logic board, not the disc, but then we got the sort of knowledge which is never really codified. He told me that on this particular model the lower RAM slot was vulnerable and by swapping to the upper RAM slot he got the Powerbook up and running so that I could work, although it still fell over 2/3 times a day but at least I could work.

Learning from a network: My local genius had ordered a new logic board while I made up my mind between repair and purchase. I was in two minds about this so I blogged the issue here. I got some great responses. Ok some of it I knew, but i never object to being told things I know, you never know! Either way that was a lot of advise fast, including the sort of tips which are not written down. Net result I bought a new computer.

Process or embedded knowledge: So yesterday I went into the store with the old Powerbook, bought a new one and left it for three hours. The store wired the two together, selected a menu based option and everything moved across. I could have done this myself, but with the logic board failure it was safer to have it done in store (at no cost) where they could run the process from my disc via one of their computers. When I got the computer and switched it on everything worked. The only thing i needed to do was to set up a new backup routine (Time Machine in Leopard is wonderful) and identify my wireless mouse. In my IBM days the process took at least a day and once and a fair amount of expertise. Once the technical staff member failed to bring in his glasses (I do not joke) and I lost a years work as a result of human error. Now to allow this sort of process you have to design the software environment properly in the first place. It’s not just automating a manual process but its a great example of way that Apples are designed, not just engineered.

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