Bird Island is the single most compelling demonstration of the value of Knowledge Management (KM). Bird Island comes out of a simulation developed by Knoco in KM training courses for BP. The simulation was adapted from pre-existing team-building games and was given a framework and format specifically designed to test and demonstrate knowledge principles and to illustrate the impact of KM. The simulation has been honed and adapted through 10 years of application around the world and in a portfolio of industries.
During the initial briefing, the delegates are divided into teams and given the scenario for the simulation. Within this, they are inhabitants of Bird Island, and make their living by catching migratory birds. They need to build a tower, using the materials that they will be given, to enable a Bird Island native to reach up as high as possible with their bird-catching net (the native is represented by a small doll). The higher the doll can reach, the more birds will be captured, and the greater the feast for the tribe. As in real life there are dangers on Bird Island, in the form of earthquakes and hurricanes, and their tower needs to survive a hurricane (a blast from a hairdryer) and an earthquake (a large telephone directory dropped next to the tower).
KM is brought into the simulation through three processes. After each KM intervention, the team is asked to express their added learning in terms of an estimate of how much taller they could build their tower. Finally, armed with much new knowledge and current best practice, they build the tower again. In every case, the second tower is much taller than the first – often three or four times taller. A careful debrief follows. The fact that performance is easily measurable, and that added knowledge can be ‘measured’ in terms of added performance, is one of the things that makes Bird Island such a compelling engagement tool.
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