Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Knowledge Management and "the death of the fact"

Death Here's a very interesting article titled The Death of the Fact. The author suggests that

People have greater access to knowledge today than ever before in the history of the human race, yet they increasingly isolate themselves based on their ideologies, fears and, ironically, television-viewing habits. This intellectual isolation has reached such epic proportions that I fear we are seeing the death of the “fact,” and I consider it a turn of events that threatens not only our discourse but also our democracy.

This is a different view of the sort of silo isolation and knowledge bubbles that I have described before, and which need to be avoided in any Knowledge Management system.

Unless we deal in facts, Knowledge Management becomes Opinion Management, and then Prejudice Management.

So how do we deal in facts, when applying Knowledge Management within an organisation?

Firstly, in communities of practice, we address the issue of validation. Generally the community validates, either through discussion and dialogue, or through co-creation of material and co-editing of wikis or collaborative documents. Often the community core team, or community leadership, will facilitate the validation process.

In Lessons Learned meetings, we discuss what actually happened, and aim firstly for ground truth, and secondly for root cause. Where people express opinion, we ask for the stories on which the opinions are based, and we look for the factual core of the story, before we look for interpretation.

We need to avoid the "death of the fact", because knowledge management which is not founded on fact, but on opinion, is not knowledge management at all.


Jack Vinson said...

But are facts really facts? David Weinberger had a column on this a few months ago in KM World that might be relevant. http://www.kmworld.com/Articles/Column/David-Weinberger/Where-facts-become-data-82020.aspx

Ian Fry said...

I think what Nick is trying to emphasize is the context around a fact, or opinion.
This colours its re-use, which is what we are trying to achieve.
Root Cause with Lessons Learned is one attempt, but a full categorization of knowledge context is still a fair way off (unless somebody has already done it :)

Nick Milton said...

Thanks Ian and Jack

Bryan Hoffpauir said...

Thanks for sharing that link, Jack - it was a REALLY informative read!

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