Thursday, 26 August 2010

Knowledge and Power

I've Got the Power
Originally uploaded by C.P.Storm
An interesting discussion on Knowledge and Power on Linked-In, led by a question from Akin Oni, who asked, Is knowledge really power, or is effective application of knowledge power?

My initial thought was that in Physics, Power is the ability to do Work, while in Business, Knowledge is the ability to take effective action. To that extent, Knowledge gives you Power. You may not use the power until you effectively apply the knowledge, but you have the power, as you have the ability to act effectively.

Alan O'Neill took the conversation in the direction of knowledge hoarders, talking about people who use knowledge for personal power, claiming that "I believe that if someone doesn't share Knowledge they become a liability; if you think about it, if one individual has all of the key knowledge about a particular feature, product, technology or process and won't share it - What happens if they leave, or worse still drop dead? That Knowledge is lost! At best it is going to cost the company money to recreate the knowledge and introduce time delays whilst recreating the knowledge"

This harks back to my blog post on the KM culture shift, which involves the shift within the organisation from "knowledge is personal power" (which is what drives the knowledge hoarding that Alan describes) to "shared knowledge is organisational power"

Akin then asked, how would you define power in this context?

I believe that in the work context, power is the ability to gain advantage!

So someone who hoards knowledge gains advantage over those who don't, and a company who's staff share and re-use knowledge gains advantage over competitors who don't. That's where the power lies.

Shared knowledge, shared power, shared advantage.


Suresh Nair said...

If one is able to tap the collective knowledge, definitely its an advantage to the organisation. the statement is conditional (i have used "if"). But how many of the organisations world over have the capability to capture the "wetware" or the "brainware" of individuals on their role?

Nick Milton said...

Who says you have to "capture" in order to share and re-use?

If we think about tapping into the collective knowledge, and allow this to happen through discussion as well as capture, then i would say quite a few organisations have the ability to do this.

John Tropea said...

Good stuff...I also think aspects of it are beyond KM's control eg. organistional design of rewarding individual this case knowledge hoarding is in my best interest.

In this post I reviewed an article between two law firms that have different financial methods on performance

Here's more on that thinking

In this post I discuss an alternate way

Here's more

Md Santo said...


By nature, Knowledge totally different with Data and/or Information. In the process of Knowledge formation, Knowledge evolved as emergent behavior inside human body as complex system, having consciousness and free will (mind and value) as well as behaving dynamically as subject. It is contrary with Data and Information which is exist outside human body, still treated as object, passive, static and having no consciousness. This is the overlying condition why KM seems in the grey area, behaving as pseudo science and still difficult for us to define KM universally accepted. Visit (“WE ARE THE KNOWLEDGE : HYBRID DEFINITION OF KNOWLEDGE”)

Essentially Knowledge (in broad meaning) acting as Human Enlightenment Agent (HEA) carrying out the task to transform physical realities into Data and Information toward higher level and maturity of Knowledge (in narrow meaning) and beyond (Wisdom) - - (“KNOWLEDGE IS NEITHER “FLOW” NOR “THING” BUT “CONSCIOUSNESS” : KNOWLEDGE IS EMERGENT PROPERTY OF HUMAN BEING AS COMPLEX SYSTEM”). From its Attachment (“BLOOM’S TAXONOMY OF LEARNING AND HUMAN SYSTEM BIOLOGY- BASED KM (HSBKM©) RELATIONSHIP”), showing that a highly significant correlation exist between the depth of human behavior of learning (Bloom’s Taxonomy) with human knowing tools namely “Knowledge with Lower Consciousness” (KLC), “Knowledge with Medium Consciousness” (KMC) and “Knowledge with Higher Consciousness” (KHC) consecutively

KLC derived from human senses, KMC from mind brain and KLC from our consciousness DNA. In Human System Biology-based KM (HSBKM) model, KLC represent KM Tools, KMC represent KM Process Framework (Tacit) and KHC represent KM Standards (Culture and Value) - - (“Mobee Human System Biology-based KM”) and - (THE EPISTEMOLOGY OF HUMAN SYSTEM BIOLOGY-BASED KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT) and the diagram from (Human Body Knowing Tools as Human Consciousness Related to Knowledge Management)

Following are some of our K-base describing the issue above mentioned :

To summarize : from my point of view marked from SSN , Knowledge clarified as human consciousness acting as human knowing tools. Knowledge associated as power only after aimed at achieving human performances

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