Goals, Objectives & Three Levels of Knowing LO29207

From: Terje A. Tonsberg (tatonsberg@hotmail.com)
Date: 09/22/02

Replying to LO29200 --

Hello Fred and group,

Thank you for an interesting topic. I read you article some time ago, and
as I remember, you define tacit knowing as something that cannot be
articulated, and that it is procedural. Implicit is something that can be
articulated but has not been.

I guess one question here is what type of knowledge needs to be explicit?
and why? I think the main criteria are:

 - effectiveness (right action according to the circumstances)
 - efficiency (time/cost)
 - morale
 - capability/skill

Since organizations exist to produce some output, effectiveness tells us
that the clearer the goals, the better since it facilitates the
mobilizations of resources in a purposeful manner. On the other hand,
very detailed orders could slow things down by mentioning the obvious, or
it could hamper impulsive or even obviously correct action. This again may
affect morale, but this depends on how experienced and independent the
workers are.

In my own personal opinion, based on my own experience, I think that the
goals generally need to be explicit (unless they are surely known) in terms
of output as follows:
 - Quality
 - Quantity
 - Deadline
 - Context of goal (the why and who)

In terms of input/procedure:
 - resources available
 - relevant policies or other restrictions
 - events that need to be communicated
 - methodology

Now, how much of each? I.e. what would be sufficient? This is very
difficult to say because it depends so much on circumstances, especially
on the people who receive the orders. For example, if you told an
experienced executive "go make a detergent business, your budget is so and
so and you should show results by such and such a date," it may be enough,
but it wouldn't be enough for a rookie (he would need much what and how
guidance,) or even an experienced executive new to the company because he
wouldn't know what you mean by "show results." This is culturally
dependent and implicit.

So I think your framework will need to be highly adaptable to whom you are
dealing with. It would be a framework to help answer whether you have told
enough to this particular individual in this particular circumstance.
Fred, would it be enough to ask "what output do I want and what does x
need to be told in order to know the output well enough? Does x know how
to do it, and if not, what is the best way for x to learn?"? What can the
framework contribute beyond this? Can it do something more than a
checklist of definable input/output aspects of goals such as the above? If
so, what?

Fred, take a look at Elliot Jaques' work on tasks. He has done a lot of
work on clarity of tasks and roles. Perhaps some of his ideas would be
helpful to your work on the framework. His book "Requisite Organization"
is much more accessible on this than the rather heavy "General Theory of

Also, perhaps the category of tacit knowledge can be related to the idea
of fluency and fluency training as discussed by Carl Binder? Just an idea,
since fluency is close in meaning to automaticity.

Perhaps the 3 level framework could work as a coaching tool where each
level has a flow of interdependent learning objectives? The ultimate goal
would be to minimize the amount of explicit information needed for each


Fred Nickols said:

> Anyway, where I am now is at a point where I am going to start developing
> some ways and means of using this three-level framework as a way for
> individuals and for managers and their direct reports, to develop
> appropriate degrees of clarity regarding work and performance objectives
> - -- and, perhaps as important, tools for "reading" the goals and
> objectives
> of those around them.
> I think this has something to do with learning and I have a few questions
> for the list:
> Can anyone point me to similar notions that have been explored and
> developed by others?
> Does what I'm talking about make sense and does it hold any
> potential value?
> Where are the flaws or even the huge holes in my thinking?


"Terje A. Tonsberg" <tatonsberg@hotmail.com>

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