If you can lick it – reuse your knowledge

Between 1947 and 1956 an amazing discovery was made along the northwest shore of the Dead Sea, writing in the form of scrolls hidden in secret caves. It is thought that either a Jewish sect called the Essenes wrote all the parchment and papyrus scrolls or that a number of communities compiled them, hiding them around the outbreak of the First Jewish Revolt (A.D. 66-70). The scrolls which contain stories about biblical figures, bring new light and understanding to our knowledge of both Judaism and Christianity. The importance of the scrolls is that they provide us with a knowledge map of how the bible may have been compiled and was shared from generation to generation.

There is a sense of amazement when the discovery of lost knowledge comes to light. New understanding enables us to artfully re-use, re-cycle, rework, casting a pathway that propels you through the labyrinth of your own data collections, gathering together vital pieces of information, forming new knowledge, wisdom and new creations – your book.

People often get into a bit of a muddle when it comes to what data, information and knowledge is, so let’s get clear:-

  • Data – individual attributes
  • Information – collection of data, made meaningful and provides answers to “who”, “what”, “where”, and “when” questions
  • Knowledge – the application of data and information and provides answers  to “how” questions.  The stuff that sits in our subconscious
  • Understanding and learning – the bit that happens when we begin to appreciate the “why”
  • Wisdom – what we get after we have evaluated everything.  The vision from which innovation occurs

In the world of knowledge management there is also a handy formula – Tacit knowledge + Explicit knowledge = knowledge

  • Tacit is what is in your head and needs articulating
  • Explicit is what you already have – i.e. you can lick it

If you have been around for a while, you will probably have enough material on your blog or on your computer to write many books. Turning your unique knowledge into a saleable asset, says more than any business card ever could.

In a nutshell, you can:-

  • Transform existing data, information and knowledge to add value to the processes and operations of the business, to enable growth and innovation
  • Use existing knowledge to provide a competitive advantage for the business
  • Use what you can lick to write a book

You are now faced with the knowledge challenge…

The knowledge challenge

Knowing what you know can be a challenge. What has already been articulated (and what is in our heads) needs documenting and mapping out. It is often more efficient to map out the stuff you can lick first.

To make sense of your knowledge you need to locate it, create a map of what you want (your book outline), where it is and how to access it.

The knowledge map and audit

A knowledge map (your book outline) is useful way to organise related information in a structured manner that facilitates comprehension by showing the connections between the information pieces.

The knowledge audit is discovering where everything that you already have is. Your job is to find out what you have and where it is.

Imagine you are writing a book on better health for menopausal women. You may have knowledge, information and data on better health as an overall subject, followed by types of diets, foods, nutrients, digestive system, reproduction, etc.

  1. Map out the parts. This can be done with post it notes, mind mapping software or as a list
  2. Think keywords and start a search on your computer
  3. Move what you find to a relevant location or at least mark it up on your knowledge audit sheet
  4. Next assess it’s use
  5. Put in order
  6. Read and decide what you can use
  7. Put what is useable into placeholders in each chapter
  8. Read, reflect and edit
  9. Perfect and publish

By re-purposing your content, you can make use of the same ideas, thoughts, processes etc. but create something original and unique from it. Not only can you re-purpose your existing content for a book, you can also refresh it and develop other products alongside it which complement your book. When you undertake your knowledge audit consider how else you might use this content.

Food for thought?