Muscle memory (or, “It’s just like riding a bike…”)

This is kind of a follow up to my last post. I played a round of golf today, a company sponsored event. I haven’t played golf in over two years, and never really played that much. Imagine my surprise when it came back to me pretty easily.

Made me think of the saying, “It’s just like riding a bike, you never forget how” (or something like that). Which got me thinking to the whole idea of explicit knowledge, lessons learned, and best practices. I realized, which I’m sure we all have at one point or another (or several), that you really can’t know how to do something unless you learned how to do it yourself.

Of course, this brings up another old saying, “Practice makes perfect.” Yes, you can read books, examine case studies, and otherwise look at how others have done something. Until you’ve held the club in your hands, though, and swung at (and missed, or topped, or sliced, or…) the ball yourself, you don’t really know anything about it. As you practice more, and do the same thing over and over, making tiny improvements here and there, your body remembers.

The neurons, the muscles, the breathing, the posture. It becomes second nature. And once you’ve learned, you NEVER forget. Sure, it may take a while for your body to fully remember (it took mine about 13 holes), but it will remember.

It’s the same with an organization, assuming you have the appropriate “infrastructure”, i.e., sub-conscious (knowledge management).

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