Thursday 5 September 2013

Knowledge suppliers, knowledge users

those are strong words for such a weak person One of the most widespread, and one of the most unhelpful, models in Knowledge Management is the DIKW model, which suggests that knowledge emerges from information, which emerges from data.

This is unhelpful, because it ignores the fact that most knowledge (especially if we think in terms of "Know-how") originates from people, and is transferred from person to person, rather than being aggregated from data, via information.

A way to think about knowledge management, which I think is a much more useful way, is to think about Knowledge Management being the systematic and structured way of transferring strategic and operational knowledge from suppliers to users.

In a recent blog post, I explained about Collect and Connect as being two routes for knowledge transfer between the supplier and user, but now let's look at the supplier and user themselves.

Knowledge is created through experience, and through the reflection on experience in order to derive guidelines, rules, theories, heuristics and doctrines. Knowledge may be created by individuals, through reflecting on their own experience, or it may be created by teams reflecting on team experience, or communities of practice engaged in collective sense-making. These are knowledge suppliers.

Knowledge is applied by individuals and teams, who can apply their own personal knowledge and experience, or they can look elsewhere for knowledge – to learn before they start, and benefit from shared experience. These are knowledge users. One of the challenges for knowledge transfer, is that often the user is unknown.

Knowledge management consists of building an enabling environment, or framework, where the users are expected to, and given the tools to, seek for and re-use knowledge whenever they need it, and where the suppliers are expected to, and enabled to, share and/or store their knowledge, wherever and whenever they have something of importance to share, using either Connection or Collection, depending on which is appropriate.


אמיר טויסטר said...

I disagree that the DIKW is unhelpful since I disagree that it ignores people. DIKW are the nouns in the model sentence while people are the verbs: they decide how to generalize data into information and own the tacit knowledge to create explicit K from I.
Another view is to post DIKW on the Collect axis of the C&C model.
When I explain the DIKW model, the Story is all about people and they find it easier to understand and resonate with it.
All models are wrong but some (in my experience, the DIKW model) are useful.
I totally agree that often the user is unknown, therefore the importance of a flexible framework where K suppliers can be K users and vice versa.

Nick Milton said...

Hi - thankds for the comment! It's always good to explore disagreement. You can find my further thoughts on DIKW here, including why I feel it is unhelpful.

My disagreement with DIKW is not about whether people can be involved in DIKW, but whether the primary source of knowledge is information. Certainly DIKW can be applied to the Collect axis, but the collect axis represents a small fraction of the knowledge of an organisation.

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