Knowledge life cycle? LO26092

From: Patrick Sue (
Date: 02/09/01

Replying to LO26037 --


I also have been trying to understand "knowledge management". A good,
practical book on this subject is "Working Knowledge", by Tom Davenport
and Lawrence Prusak, ISBN: 1578513014.

In response to your questions....

> Create, share, store, evaluate.
> In fact, if you say that you create knowledge before you share it, it
> makes most sense. But, when you are sharing knowledge you are also
> creating it. So, how can you say one comes before the other?

These are two different ways of creating knowledge: getting it from
someone who has it (therefore creation comes first, then sharing), and
creating it using your own devices (it didn't exist before, so there was
nothing to share).

> And it is
> obvious that you can only evaluate something after doing it, but when you
> evaluate a knowledge sharing/creation process, you are creating knowledge
> at the same time.

When you evaluate ANYTHING, you are creating knowledge (assuming that you
reached at least one conclusion as a result). In this case, the thing you
are evaluating relates to knowledge: you are creating more knowledge about
the knowledge sharing/creating process. You are not creating more of the
knowledge that is being shared or created, at least, not intentionally.

> (Is it just an impression or the creation phase is a
> on-going phase, present at every other stage of the knowledge process?)

Well, yes. Any time you do something, you can inadvertently learn
something you didn't intend to (serendipity), i.e. create knowledge.
However, I don't see why knowledge is necessarily created by the act of
sharing knowledge, except in the person you are sharing the knowledge

It also makes a difference whether the "enterprise" that you want to
create knowledge in, is an organization or an individual. As an
individual, if I want to gain knowledge about X, then I can accomplish
that by carrying out experiments that will yield knowledge (plan, do,
evaluate - see Rick's note below), researching books or the Internet, or
having a dicussion with an expert on X. In an organization, if it makes
makes the people in the organization more productive to know about X, then
it makes sense to ensure that, when the first person creates knowledge
about X, then every other person in the organization that would benefit
from that knowledge, should receive it.

Therefore, the organization engages in "knowledge management" (KM). This
is a term which some people think inappropriate, since it suggests that
knowledge can be managed in the same way as "asset management". Another
problem with the term is that is has been abused by software vendors
claiming to have "KM software", as if implementing their software will
result in KM.

The truth is that, while software can help, KM is highly dependent on
human behaviour which cannot be controlled. For example, if one doesn't
believe it is in one's interest to share information with one's
co-workers, it won't happen. Therefore the organization's management
needs to establish "favourable conditions" for KM to occur. This may
involve engendering culture change, establishing "appropriate" reward
systems (not just money), implementing mechanisms (usually software) that
facilitate knowledge creation (e.g. data warehouses) and dissemination
(e.g. search engines).

> [Host's Note: Thanks Ana. I agree with your comments on "create.. share..
> store.. evaluate" as a cycle. And, I'm surprised that there is no spot in
> that cycle in which the proposed "knowledge" is used.

My interpretation is that Ana is referring to a (cyclical) process in
which the knowledge is the implied object of the process. When Thomas
Edison was inventing the light bulb (reportedly after 1000 tries), every
try was a cycle. What he created each time (except for the last), was
knowledge about how not to contruct a light bulb. That knowledge wasn't
actually used in the process, but as input to the next attempt. The final
bit of knowledge (how to make a sufficiently durable light bulb), was
presumably used to manufacture light bulbs.

> I'm convinced there is a learning cycle; I'm used to:
> plan.. do.. check.. act (the famous Deming cycle)
> or planning.. doing... reflecting.. connecting (based on Kolb's cycle).


Patrick Sue

[Host's Note: In assoc w/

Working Knowledge by Thomas H. Davenport, Laurence Prusak


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