Knowledge Management

Birgitt Bolton birgitt at
Fri Oct 1 09:24:33 PDT 1999

Hi Joe Paul,
I like the part of your pondering that is about wondering if OS could be
used as a whole systems approach to making tacit knowledge of an
organization more visible and thereby giving your clients a competitive
advantage. I personally think that all OS events are examples of this kind.
Information, knowledge, and even wisdom surface and are more visible to
everyone. Could you do this by holding an OS with the theme "issues and
opportunities in our knowledge base" and basically what I think would come
out are grand stories of the past and present, as interpreted by the story
teller. Is this knowledge?---it is more than information for sure. Is it
accurate?---as far as the teller is concerned, it is.  Is it
useful?---anything that brings the story to the collective consciousness in
my experience enhances performance and competitive advantage. Is this about
"knowledge management"?---I don't think so. Can knowledge be managed? I
don't think so. Are there differences between information, knowledge, and
management---for sure. What is it that we want to capture and pass along?

A good friend of mine when  I was at the head of an organization said that
there was no way I could retain either the information or the knowledge I
needed to attend to the vast diversity of the job. She said that what was
important was for me to remember where to access the information when I
needed it. This was very, very helpful advice.

And then I observed how knowledge and wisdom are passed along. In indigenous
peoples around the world for as long as people have records, knowledge and
wisdom are passed along through story, dance, song, art, ritual and
ceremony. Some stories record knowledge going back 10,000 years. And story,
ritual, and ceremony are how I observe knowledge being passed along in
organizations of today. I think this could become collective knowledge if
space was opened for story telling gatherings. And I think performance would
go way up.

I think of two examples of information or knowledge storage and
"management". The first is in Star Trek. "Captain's log number..... "
whereby the Captain regularly and at least daily captured the information
and action and experience of the day. The information and knowledge at later
dates could be pulled up by the computer with some simple voice questions.

The other is in Star Wars. C3P0 and R2D2 are the vessels of the information
and knowledge. And this can be accessed by voice questions.

I see how information or knowledge management is possible in computers. I
don't know how this is possible in an organization of humans.

And then I think about wisdom. And the building of my own wisdom files
through life. Far greater than information or knowledge. Wisdom requires
that I actually learned from the information or knowledge. And wisdom
engages my full intuition and my experiences of inspiration, confusion, and
illumination. It is from these that I navigate to create a better future.
Knowledge is only a fraction of that. I wonder how this unfolding world of
"knowledge management" takes wisdom into account. And I wonder if "knowledge
management" will do for the organization what I think is being said it is
meant to do. there room for Open Space in either information or knowledge storage
and then access? And is it useful?

Warmest regards,

Birgitt Bolton of Dalar Associates
55 Ravina Cres., Ancaster, Ontario, Canada
 L9G 2E8
phone: 905-648-5775  fax: 905-648-2262

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