Wednesday 22 May 2019

Better informed, but none the wiser (and what this phrase implies for KM)

The difference between knowledge and information can be summed up in this phrase.

Do you know the saying "I am better informed, but none the wiser?  It effectively means "I have extra information but do not know what it means nor what to do with it".

The phrase has entered common English usage, but originally comes from the statesman, lawyer, orator, and friend of Churchill, Frederick Edwin Smith, 1st Earl of Birkenhead, as part of this courtroom exchange;
Judge: I've listened to you for an hour and I'm none the wiser.
Smith: None the wiser, perhaps, my lord but certainly better informed. 
For me, this exchange marks a crucial difference between information management and knowledge management.

The accumulation of information makes an organisation better informed, but without the accumulation of knowledge they cannot make the next step towards wisdom, because they do not know what to do with the information they have gathered..

Ultimately organisations need information, and they need that information to be ordered and stored and shared and accessible. That's Information Management.

They also need knowledge - they need know-how - they need to know what that information means, and how to deal with it.

Knowledge management therefore involves review,collective sense-making and the derivation of shared understanding and shared heuristics and rules. Knowledge management is less about accumulation than it is about synthesis; less about information than about understanding and decision making. It is the understanding that needs to be created and shared, which then makes the information actionable.

Let us make sure that, though a combination of Information Management and Knowledge Management, that our organisations are both better informed and more knowledgeable, and therefore wiser.

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