Wednesday 18 February 2009

Knowledge is ...

I watched a video yesterday of Peter Senge talking about Knowledge Management back in 2004, and his definition of knowledge was one that I resonate with.

He said "Knowledge is the ability to take effective action*". For me, this is clear, and also makes Knowledge clearly distinct from Information.

I would adjust this slightly - there is more to effective action than Knowledge; resources are important also, for example. You might argue that "Knowledge is the ability to make effective decisions". The implication of this second definition, is that it allows you to align Knowledge Management with Decision Support. At a recent KM planning** workshop, for example, the project leader asked that the KM plan be focused entirely in the upcoming decision to select the project concept. We then had a great discussion as a team about "what do we need to know, to make an effective decision on concept selection?" The knowledge needs inventory that emerged from this discussion was then used to plan the project learning actions.

Discussing these ideas a little further today, over dinner, I wondered if the following is also true

Knowledge is knowing how to do things
Wisdom is knowing what things to do

* This definition was also proposed by Hubert St Onge at the Ontario KM Summit in 2006, and I believe originates with Nonaka
** More on Knowledge Management planning

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