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11 February 2007

Right idea, Wrong trees?

Old post of 2005

A newspaper article last months with this title caught my attention and it spoke of how more than 100 trees were uprooted during Sunday night’s squally weather in Chennai and how saplings planted along avenues should have deep roots. Many of the trees that fell were not just destroyed but also damaged cars & properties. Add to this the costs of planting, growing and maintaining the trees and we have a fair idea of the compounded effect. In the article, activists raised questions about the stability and choice of species planted, gave details of trees planted, recommended species, environmentalist views on the topic, overall making it very insightful reading.

I was reminded of when a CEO of a large construction company had mentioned something similar- how the trees in their housing complexes are chosen carefully such that birds of rare species are attracted as compared to the pigeons and crows that normally frequent apartment complexes in Mumbai leading to maintenance issues. Both these examples are very relevant from the perspective of Knowledge Management. For instance, how often is it that people really consider which trees to plant during a tree-planting programme?

Knowledge for it’s own sake is to be pursued because without it we would have no foundation at all. Having acquired it, what makes it invaluable is when it is applied within a larger context. Managing Knowledge is not about building sites or portals and counting hits. Managing Knowledge is about using the information one has (in this case about trees) in the context of a larger need or requirement (in this context that would be town planning). Knowledge for knowledge sake is good and putting it to intelligent use is what would provide any significance. Needless to say, lack of knowledge can only be a very high price to pay as the example of the 100 uprooted trees tell us. The idea was right but the trees were wrong. Even simple ideas implemented based on proper understanding work effectively while the best idea may come to naught due to poor implementation.

Hence the need to have and manage knowledge is to enable effective decision-making and about creating a larger “Knowledge is good, Knowledge is valuable” awareness.

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