History of Uncovering the Act of Learning LO28786

From: AM de Lange (amdelange@postino.up.ac.za)
Date: 07/05/02

Replying to LO28779 --

Dear Organlearners,

Axel Meierhoefer <ahsfamily@cox.net> writes:

>Two weeks ago I finished a paper about knowledge
>management and leadership. That's why I respond to
>this posting. I belive some of the sentences written here
>are at least misleading. I'm not saying I know it better
>than you do, but would like to present what I wrote recently.

and at the end of his reply

>I would be alittle careful with definitions that place pieces
>of terms in certain places. In addition I believe KM can
>only exost within an environment.

Greetings dear Axel,

Thank you for joining the dialogue. I think this is the first time you
have written to our LO-dialogue. Welcome aboard!

Through the years fellow learners became careful not to prescibe the
learning of another learner, but to contemplate for self-learning the
information supplied by others. Where the information does not make sense,
they freely ask questions or offer their own opinions. I will do the same.

>My own definition is rather simple and more like a formula:
>Knowledge (subject) = Information (subject) + Experience (subject)

What does the sign "+" in the formual mean?

Does some kind of knowledge not play a role in "adding" information to
experience? Let us call it "add-knowledge" should it exists. Where does
this "add-knowledge" fit into the formula? Where does this "add-knowledge"
comes from in the first place?

Furthermore, what about such information which is exactly the opposite to
experience. Can the two be "added" and still lead to further knowledge?

>For my own definition of Knowledge Management (KM)
>based on the previous definitions of knowledge, it is the
>creation of an atmosphere that identifies existing knowledge,
>makes it available to the right individuals in the organization,
>and creates the environment to develop new content from
>the existing sources.

How can existing knowledge be identified when, to use your own words,
"knowledge resides in people's brains"? When knowledge resides in some
person's brains, how can it be made available by any other person or even
technology other than the person self in whose brains it resides?

>What can be done, and what the concepts behind
>Knowledge Management are all about, is to create and
>maintain an environment in which people are encouraged
>to innovate, share, learn and use knowledge for the benefit
>of the organization and the people who work in it
>- knowledge can be mobilized.

How does knowledge get innovated? How does knowledge get shared? What in
the organisation, other than the people who work in it, benefits from
learning and using knowledge? How does knowledge get moved ("mobilized")
or organised for action?

>I believe, together with many sources in this field, that
>a knowledge culture is fundamental to the success of any
>organization in the new economy and that without such
>a culture and the value it places on knowledge and
>information, new initiatives such as e-business and
>e-commerce will fail to meet objectives.

I believe so too. But the phrase "new economy" entails that there must
have been an "old economy". This reminds me of Dr Demming who wrote in the
days of the "old economy", i.e., an economy during which most portable or
desk-top electronic gadgets for operations on information did not exist.
Even in those days he believed the same.

Even before the days of huge main frame computers, Michael Polanyi in the
section "Superior Knowledge" (pp374-379) of his book Personal Knowledge
(1958) expressed the same belief. He writes: "Thus we may regard, ....,
the entire superior knowledge embodied in a modern highly articulate
culture as the sum total of what its classics have uttered and its saints
and heroes have done." He believes that a society with such a superior
knowledge benefits from it and thus should offer its allegiance to it so
that posterity can have similar benefits. But when a soiety becomes
totalitarian, it invents values for the present while brushing aside this
superior knowledge. (It is a pity that despite his careful distinctions
otherwise, Polanyi never made a clear distinction between knowledge and

It makes me wonder what Polanyi would have said about present corporate

>I'm looking forward to hear what you think.

I do hope that my thinking will not shock you too much. I certainly do not
expect you to answer my questions because that would be like forcing you
into a corner. My questions are merely intended to guide your own thinking
and that of fellow learners.

With care and best wishes


At de Lange <amdelange@postino.up.ac.za> Snailmail: A M de Lange Gold Fields Computer Centre Faculty of Science - University of Pretoria Pretoria 0001 - Rep of South Africa

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