The Intersection of Knowledge Management and Learning


I’ve never worked in knowledge management, but I do work in learning and development, and it’s always fun to find new applications for the Pareto principle. You know, the one where 80% of outputs are the result of 20% of the inputs…or something like that.

In learning applications, Lombardo & Eichinger’s 70-20-10 rule is often cited to indicate how little learning takes place through formal training; rather, almost all workplace earning takes place informally via on-the-job experience, developmental assignments, networking, coaching etc.  Kind of depressing really, if you’re a professional instructional designer…

Harold Jarche takes it a step further, writing “We know that formal instruction accounts for less than 10% of workplace learning. The same rule of thumb should apply to knowledge management. Capture and codify the 10% that is essential ….Many organizations are too slow and hierarchical to be useful for knowledge-sharing in the network era. Organizations structured around looser hierarchies and stronger networks are much more effective for increasingly complex work.”

Personal Knowledge Mastery – Jarche (2014)


I can’t help but agree, and there are more and more concerns that closed networks (at least in some industries) severely limit idea sharing and creativity.  I especially appreciate Brafman & Beckstrom’s addition that the weak connections we have at the furthest reaches of our networks can have more impact in driving change than the strong ties we have with our closest colleagues and friends.  That’s not meant to minimize the importance of close, strong relationships, only to highlight the power of broad networks with exponential numbers of connections.

In my agency, we’re constantly evaluating new ways to connect people for learning opportunities, professional development, and information sharing.  In some cases, there are strong doubts about security or privacy, but increasingly we’re finding that these requirements and the desire for outreach are not mutually exclusive.

Dave Barton is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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