Tuesday, 3 September 2013


Why the knowledge cycle is wrong, and how it should be improved.


I have lost count of the number of Knowledge Management lectures, strategies, introductions and other material I have seen, which somewhere along the line have presented a single loop model for Knowledge Management.

Almost all of these have been wrong.

The ones that were wrong, were the ones that look like the upper picture - that start with "Create" (for creating knowledge), then immediately move to "Capture". Try a google image search for "Knowledge Management cycle" and you will see what I mean.

The reason why they are wrong, is that Knowledge does not need to be captured to be managed. You can, in some circumstances,  operate a perfectly good Knowledge Management system while keeping knowledge tacit and uncaptured. Therefore a single loop with a "Capture" step is only a partial truth.

In more general terms, Knowledge management can take two routes, generally known as Collect, and Connect (as discussed in yesterday's blog post). In the Collect route, knowledge is documented - it is "Captured" (leaving aside for the moment all the arguments around whether knowledge can ever really be captured). In the Connect route, knowledge need never be captured.

Therefore all these knowledge cycles, that require "Capture" somewhere along the chain, only refer to the Collect dimension of knowledge management, and miss the Connect dimension.

A single loop is a single line - a one-dimensional thing. Knowledge Management is two dimensional (if not more).  It is both Connect and Collect - it needs a Collect loop, and a Connect loop.

Therefore a more realistic model is the lower one shown here, which reflect the reality of the two dimensions, and expresses them in two cycles.


4 comments:

Josh Liu said...

Hi Nick,

Thanks for another great article. Really loved the "connect" and "collect" aspects, which are really in line with our thoughts behind our product at Acrossio.

Anyway, I think there is a typo in the article:
Therefore all these knowledge cycles, that require "Capture" somewhere along the chain, only refer to the Connect dimension of knowledge management, and miss the Connect dimension.

You wanted to say "refer to the *Collect* dimension of knowledge management and miss the Connect dimension, right?

Cheers

Josh

Nick Milton said...

Thanks Josh - mistake now corrected

Andrew Maloney said...

Hmm still not right.

"In the Connect route, knowledge is documented - it is "Captured"..... In the Collect route, knowledge need never be captured."

It's the other way.

Nick Milton said...

Whoops again! Fixed this time, I think

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