Sunday, June 22, 2008
Indian Outsourcing: Is the concept of knowledge transfer a trap?
Words mean things and we need to stop overloading our vocabulary. Whenever we seek to share or transfer knowledge, we create information as a means of sharing it and often store the information in some other medium. Knowledge is personal and evolves. Likewise, what one currently understands as knowledge today, may over time become information. In order to land on the right mental model, we need to understand whether the United States Constitution is information or knowledge?
Is there a distinction between information management and knowledge management? Is your starting point the understanding of the distinction between information and knowledge? How would you classify the knowledge content of the Bible, the Holy Quran, Vedas or other scriptures?
Should documents be treated as information regardless of their role, their reification, their degree of social acceptance and their ability to impart learning? There are no clear boundaries between information and knowledge and the line depends on one's personal viewpoint along with how you negotiate the understanding with your circle. The distinction becomes less important as you become more comfortable with the core concepts and their application.
For those who practice mental masturbation, the question of whether we can have explicit knowledge at all will emerge. If explicit knowledge morphs into information as soon as you represent it, how will you treat stories, dialogs and reflections of what you know?
For those who understand the distinction between knowledge, wisdom and understanding, you will agree that knowledge is not understanding until it has been assimilated. Information is not knowledge until it has been communicated. Mabye, the we need to acknowledge several truths. First, people, even average and otherwise unskilled have much greater abilities to manage knowledge in their own heads than any software that currently exists. Second, knowledge nor information can be effectively harnessed without good people management which includes training, development and even succession planning, all of which needs to occur in a culture which values the knowledge inside people's heads.
So, what does your culture value...
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