Monthly Archives: June 2003

Analogies

Sitting here studying some statistics – I’m sorry, “quantitative analysis” – listening to and watching a Joe Satriani DVD: Live in San Francisco (2001). I love just listening to his music, and enjoy watching him and his band play even more.

Part of my fascination, especially as an amateur piano player, is watching the ease with they play even the most difficult pieces. It is as if their fingers, hands, indeed their whole bodies just know what to do. Of course, my point is exactly that: through extensive training, practice, repetition, and learning from mistakes, the body basically goes on autopilot.

This is not to take away from the performance. Not at all. You can still see the concentration it takes, especially on the difficult ones (they all look difficult to me, but that is beside the point), but it is a comfortable concentration. They are having a hell of a lot of fun, and you can tell.

As you’ve probably figured, this is leading up to some sort of analogy with organizational knowledge. Imagine for a moment that you are a CEO or some other executive, and you want to get your organization to some goal. Maybe through a little trial and error (simulation?) you come up with the goal (write the song), then you get the message out to the workforce and keep driving it home so everyone knows what you are looking for (practicing the song), then you are ready for the real world (performance).

This is obviously a very simplified analogy, and of course your workforce will likely have more of an opinion about what you are trying to do than your hands and fingers would. In many ways, though, the analogy works and there are many similar analogies you could use (for example, the training of an elite athlete).

I’m sure we’ll get into more of those later….

What is Knowledge Management, anyway?

Many definitions of Knowledge Management have been, and continue to be, thrown about. One I’ve always had trouble with is the “right information to the right person at the right time” thing. My main problem with it is my belief that there is no such thing as THE right answer. Maybe a bunch of A right answers. Unless of course you are looking at right in this case as relative.

My other problem with it is that it is focused on the individual, not an organization. Knowledge Management is not something that makes each individual’s job performance better, it is something that make the organization perform better. It is entirely possible that in order for an organization to do its best some of the individuals within that organization will do less than their best. (Kind of like evolution taking two steps forward and one tiny step back.)

On brint.com I came across the following, proposed by Dr. Yogesh Malhotra. (emphasis added by me)

Knowledge Management refers to the critical issues of organisational adaptation, survival and competence against discontinuous environmental change. Essentially it embodies organisational processes that seek synergistic combination of data and information processing capacity of information technologies, and the creative and innovative capacity of human beings.

I’m still torn about whether IT is an actual part of Knowledge Management or just a (very effective) tool in carrying it out. I think before long IT itself will cease to be a “separate” thing and simply part of the world.

We’ll see.

Access to more information and more advanced decision aids does not necessarily make decision makers better informed or more able to decide.

Organizational Knowledge

Organizational Knowledge – What is it?

What exactly does “organizational knowledge” mean? We know what knowledge means in people, or do we?

What level of knowledge are we thinking about? The knowledge that we are conscious of? The knowledge that we are not usually aware of but can consciously call on at times when we need it? The truly subsconscious knowledge that our body uses to keep us going?

Organizational knowledge is no different (imho).

Once we have figured out what organizational knowledge is, we can start thinking about “managing” that knowledge.

So begins the journey. Where will it lead me….