Summary: I list several of the hierarchy issues involving knowledge and truth after
sharing several points that Denham Grey has quite recently shared in
Corporate memory - the hard
way. My additional points, which conclude this entry, can be summarized as: knowledge and
truth are contextual and situational; part of context and situation is the complexity of
living system for which knowledge or truth are claimed. One must conclude that an individual truth
(see my recent definition)
is not the same as either truth at the Small Group level or truth for a System (company, division, etc.). I explore reasons why in
the table below Denham's listing of KM confusions at the corporate level.
[First Draft 9/28/03--Your additions, amendments. questions, and corrections are welcome]
Denham Grey has noted the following corporate misconceptions of knowledge:
Where did we go wrong?
Knowledge vs. information: We failed to clearly appreciate and understand that we were storing information, that context is key, content without community is not king, feedback, critique, continual validation and annotation is everything, information has a social side, knowledge flows via relationships not via access to static content.
Shared space: We did not design for dialog, we built a vault to secure objects, when we badly needed a place to support relationships. We indexed, clustered and classified the content, when we really needed to point to people, we imposed order, when we should have co-designed, permitted emergence and shared the meaning, we had workflow and access rights, when we needed empathy, support, evangelism and interaction.
A hollow collection: We discovered.
1) Collecting information is a breeze , even elicitation of rules and personal heuristics, [if we even thought that far], is the easy part, getting people to trust, apply & use 'strange' knowledge from others, is the major concern.
2) Knowledge emerges over time , it requires an environment of trust, a shared language, a familiarity, strong validation from colleagues you trust and lives in a community not in static text.
3) Knowledge to be used, requires understanding of context , rationale, implications, limitations and continual testing. Knowledge is fragile, it lives in the stories & spaces between individuals and communities, not in a database or entirely in a set of rules or collection of examples, or in policies or processes.
4) Knowledge changes , what you elicit the first time is likely to alter as individuals and groups validate, connect and use it, we were not prepared for unending cycles, we did not focus on reciprocity and feedback.
5) You will not get real quality knowledge without trust , strong critique, deep dialog, open communications. If you do not elicit with an appreciation of maintaining the identity of the group / indivdual, you will only get shallow stuff.
6) Knowledge comes in many forms , we did not decide carefully what type of knowledge we wanted (knowledge of customers, of procedures, of policies, of strategy, of competitors, knowledge of best practices, knowledge from failures (the hardest to get, the most valuable?), knowledge of people - relationships, tips, tricks, short cuts, 'good' solutions, heuristics......)
7) The best elicitation is driven by dialog & quality questions , to get to the really good stuff, you need to have strong relationships and almost equally deep domain understanding, otherwise the gems get lost. We thought this was a library (organising and catalog) function.
8) Knowledge acquisition is NOT extracting concepts from documents , clustering objects, mining transactions. No system or tool can do it for you! we fell into the knowledge 'harvesting' trap along with others:
http://www.nelh.nhs.uk/knowledge_management/km2/harvesting_toolkit.asp http://www.intelligentkm.com/feature/feat1.shtml http://www.noweco.com/cerebe.htm http://www.teximus.com/ProductFeatureCategory.jsp?instId=200?=en
Have we really learned anything yet????
Hall's working notes on the relationships of learning, knowledge and truth when considered at the levels of individual, group and organizational existence.
|Social System Involved||To Learn||To Know||To Be True|
|Living System Level:Individual||Provoked by a situation relative to the individual. Expectations and perceived results are not acceptably matched. Learning routines vary considerably; they can range from (a)increased "openness" to demonstration or teaching, through (b) one or two particular learning routines (asking for help, searching the internet under one or two descriptors), to (c) applying an aggressive, sequential and systematic learning routine (a problem solving sequence involving, for example, books, observations, interviews and an informal verification sequence).||Situation is now 'handled'; in spite of variations of input, output, and perception of having it 'under control' is maintained.||Truth of knowledge will be accepted to the degree that it is transmissable (explainable, demonstrable) and is as useful to the receiving individuals (who collectively function under a wider variation of environmental conditions than the first knower) as to the sending individual. When this is shown or proven to be the case then the assertion of truth is considered to be a 'warranted assertion' (a la Dewey).|
|Living System Level: Group||Provoked by a situation
relative to the moment-to-moment definition of group purpose. Expectations and perceived
results are not acceptably matched (as per present decision-making process
and decision-maker(s)). Once group has 'decided' to learn, the potential learning
routines vary even more than do those for an individual.
To start with -- the group can have a designated learner who follows any one of
patterns available for individual learning and then tells group members how
to do things differently (in some cases all have the same role, in others
individuals may have different parts to play). If group behavior
has changed--then at least a portion of membership must also change its
behavior. How it does so can vary considerably, for example, consider the gradations
of group sophistication that connects the following two examples:
||In order to say that the "situation is now 'handled'" is more complex in case of group knowledge. Why? For one thing: a number of actions on the part of several people will be required to maintain or restore equilibrium. For another: the type of group must be taken account of when judging whether knowledge can be claimed by the group. When all parts of 'handling' must be at the direction of the 'teacher' then knowledge can only be expected of the group when the 'teacher' is there to issue behavioral signals in a timely and appropriate manner. On the other hand, if all learners have independent mastery of component behaviors[even that of a coordinator should he/she be unavailable or indisposed at the time of need] then then group knowledge will be manifested under a broader range of conditions.||Truth of group knowledge will be accepted to the degree that it is transmissable (explainable, demonstrable) and is as useful to a specified range of receiving groups (which will function under a wider variety of environmental conditions than the first group to have mastered the situation for which the originating group provides documentation and transfer information [i.e.,training materials]) . When this is shown or proven to be the case then the knowledge is considered to be true, i.e., the truth assertion is warranted (a la Dewey).|
|Living System Level: Organization||Provoked by a situation relative to the charter of the organization. Expectations and perceived results are not acceptably matched (as per present decider subsystem(s)). Once decider subsystem (e.g., Corporate Board, Governor's Council, Principal of School, President's Cabinet, etc) has 'decided' change is necessary,i.e., that the organization has to develop a different means-- as a whole -- of interacting with its environment [particularly vis a vis Problem X then other subsystems are put to the work of altering all behaviors which collectively will consitute a 'handling' of the situation which has the decider subsystem --and presumably the total system-- (but the inference, at this level of living system complexity is quite tenuous) stymied. Lets say that the decider subsystem now directs Research and Development to find the technology which might both fit in the organization and allow the organization to surmount this challenge(Problem X). Once the technology is found R & D passes it along to a) staff development or possibly to b)department heads (with a handbook or, often worse, a set of principles which it is left to department heads to interpret). If circulation, sales, customer collections, etc. increase the decider subsystem will be pleased and will move on to the next set of concerns; after all this one has been handled. But what kinds of truth(s) have emerged? Is it true, for example, that the same response pattern can be successfully applied the next time Problem X surfaces?||When we get to the level of organizational knowledge it becomes quite difficult to say with certainty that a situation is now handled. The within-organizational and organization-environment variables are so numerous that extremely complex research and interpretation procedures will produce only the guess that has the highest probability of truth as to whether the Problem X has actually been contained. Crossing the river twice is no simple matter[can't be done], even at the individual level -||Truth of organizational knowledge [if it has at least been certified as knowledge--no easy thing] will be accepted to the degree that it is transmissable (explainable, demonstrable) between organizations and is as useful to a specified range of kindred receiving organizations (which will function under a wider variety of environmental conditions than the organization which claims to have mastered the situation and for which the originating group provides documentation and transfer information [i.e.,training materials]) . When this is shown or proven to be the case then the organizational knowledge is considered to be true, i.e., the organizational truth assertion is warranted.|