I stumbled upon an interesting article about something called “Laughter Yoga”, described as a form of yoga employing self-triggered laughter, and I wondered if there might be a similar application that would fit with knowledge management.
What is Laughter Yoga?
Laughter Yoga (Hasyayoga) is a form of yoga employing self-triggered laughter. The “laughter” is physical in nature, and does not necessarily involve humor or comedy. The brainchild of Dr. Madan Kataria, a Physician from Mumbai, India, launched the first Laughter Club at a Park on March 13, 1995, with merely a handful of persons. Today, it has become a worldwide phenomenon with more than 6000 Social Laughter Clubs in about 60 countries. Laughter is simulated as a body exercise in a group; with eye contact and childlike playfulness, it soon turns into real and contagious laughter. The concept of Laughter Yoga is based on a scientific fact that the body cannot differentiate between fake and real laughter. One gets the same physiological and psychological benefits.
So here’s my thought — what if we applied the same concept to knowledge management. What if we got people together in the organization. Socialization just for the sake of getting folks together. And what if in the course of that socialization, folks told organizational stories. What if they talked about ideas that they’d had for things that needed to be changed, how ever far fetched. Which all begins to sound a whole lot like knowledge sharing. But instead of feeling threatening (i.e., “you WILL share your knowledge”) it is just too casual to be threatening. What if, to use an expression common about a decade ago, people simply “dared to share.”
Perhaps the organization wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between getting together for socialization and the “forced” sharing of knowledge. What if the two blurred together. What if instead of taking an approach that is sometimes viewed as more threatening and typically much more IT-centric, we instead focused on knowledge sharing processes the same way that Peter Senge spoke of creating learning processes. Perhaps in perfecting our organizational abilities to socialize, to tell stories, to share ideas, etc., we end up becoming better at collaboration and from that improve our knowledge sharing processes.
Sort of like Laughter Yoga.
It seems that when an organization moves from viewing knowledge sharing as an activity that enables the casual exchange of knowledge between members of the organization (self-improvement, like Yoga), and instead becomes all about forcing the capture of knowledge (mandated physical fitness?), that we lose our way. We forget about why as people we do have a natural tendency to share (sort of that strength in numbers, all sticking together, and so on). And instead of fostering a knowledge sharing culture we enforce knowledge capture.