A while back I blogged about the value of experience from the film “The Kings Speech” – and the statement from self-styled speech therapist, Lionel Logue who, when cornered by the establishment about his lack of professional credentials, stated: “All I know, I know by experience”. Last year, the BBC TV series “Educating Yorkshire” was broadcast in the UK. It was a fly-on-the-wall documentary about a state school in the North of England, introducing us to the reality of today’s education, and the challenges for teachers and students alike. The most memorable moment came when English Teacher, Mr Burton was helping Musharaf (aka “Mushy”), a student with a severe stammer, to prepare for his oral examination. This was something of a lost cause, or so we thought, until Mr Burton had the courage to try something that he’d seen on the Kings Speech. He asked Mushy to try speaking whilst listening to music to through headphones – you can watch it here – it’s a heart-warming 5 minutes, and it went viral at the time. I challenge you to watch it and not shed a tear!
I recently read an interview that Mushy gave, where he said something that tingled my KM antennae.
“I thought Mr Burton was a genius until he lent me The King's Speech afterwards, and then I realised he just copied that other man!”
Isn’t that interesting? He just copied that other man.
Applying someone else’s good practice in a new situation isn’t clever or innovative, at least, not in the conventional sense – but it still takes intelligent courage. In the clip, you can see Mr Burton is almost embarrassed to suggest that they try to“just copy the other man”, and suggests it laughingly.
Whether it’s copying ‘best’ practices, or adapting good practices to a different context, we sometimes underestimate what it takes it takes to do this. In some ways, the organisational motivation to innovate a ‘genius’ solution is greater than the recognition gained for copying or adapting. Something a bit like this?
How much more effective would we be if we celebrated re-use and re-purposing of knowledge as much as we prized innovation?
Is there a way we can make is safer for the 'Mr Burtons' in our organisation to adopt and adapt what has worked for others?
It's got to be worth a try...