Ants when scouting for new nesting sites or food sources have no leader giving orders. Instead as they travel they leave a trail of scent for other ants, called “scouts”, to follow. Scouts that find a good nesting site or food source in turn leave more scent along the same trail. Eventually, one site is selected from many potential sites in a sort of “chemical democracy” based on the strongest combined chemical strength left by more and more scouts. This organizing process is both simple and powerful. And so without any need for bosses they efficiently find new places to live and new food sources.
So what do ants have to do with Knowledge Management? Glad you asked!
Got a phone call from someone who wanted to chat about life, the universe and everything…well, not really…but it just seemed that the conversation really rambled around a bit. It was someone calling to ask about membership in the KM society that I’m a volunteer in…and the phone rings in my office.
So I take the call, answer a few quick questions about membership and then we were moving into general chit-chat. Seems the individual on the other end of the phone was a Knowledge Manager working for a private sector firm and was fairly new to this whole KM schtuff. As the conversation turned toward what this KM’er was engaged in, what KM schtuff was ongoing in their organization, what directions they would take (always interesting to hear what folks are up to)….I heard it.