Knowledge management and Learning organizations LO29963

From: AM de Lange (
Date: 03/04/03

Replying to LO29960 --

Dear Organlearners,

Fred Nickols <> write:

>Responding to the thread but not to any particular posting...
>The essence of the responses to ceoji singh's question about
>how to differentiate KM and LO has been to say that they
>are the same. I disagree.

Greetings dear Fred,

Thank you for taking this position.

But let us not be in the dark. Both Knowledge Management (KM) and the
Learning Organisation (LO) have become massive bandwagons on which tens of
thousands want to make a living. Each are sold with a frenzy which borders
on the insane. (Google:- 1 150 000 hits for KM and 26 500 hits for LO, but
merely 19 hits for "learn peacefully".) Managers who want to lead their
organisations safely through the 21st century will have to become wise to
the increasing confusion which this hype causes.

I myself consider knowledge and information to be very different.
Knowledge dwells within the mind whereas information exists outside it.
Knowledge is the mental capacity to act with a purpose in a given
situation whereas information does not have this capacity. Knowledge can
be used to create among other things information, but information cannot
create anything. Information consists merely of "parcels" (like documents
or files) of information which image to some extent the knowledge which
has created it. In my opinion KM should have been called IM (Information

There is also a vast difference between a Learning Organisation (LO) (two
words, but one concept) and an Information Organisation (IO) (usually
called a Knowledge Organisation). A LO can be considered as a group of
people, individually and collectively, enhancing continually their
capacity to create and care for what they have envisioned together. But an
IO uses primarily information with appropiate technology to relate with
customers, to perform effectively, to gain advantage over competitors, to
provide service for its business partners and to yield good return for its
investors. Experts are hired and fired in an IO as the demand dictates,
but all members of LO care compassionately for each other to the limits of

The two paragraphs above are merely information. It is impossible for me
to manage with them the knowledge which dwells in the mind of a fellow
learner. I can manage the knowledge of one and only one person -- me. As
for the knowledge of another person, the best i could do is to teach that
person. It is a risky venture and becomes a disaster when that person
confuses information with knowledge.

>Perhaps the easiest way to differentiate the two is as
>follows: I could have a very successful (or unsuccessful)
>KM initiative and, later, undo it. I could go in and rip it
>out. But, if I succeed at an attempt to create an LO, I'd
>have a devil of a time undoing it.

I like this distinction very much.

Here is another one. It is fun to work in a LO. But in IM (KM) fun is
often taken out of the work.

With care and best wishes,


At de Lange <> 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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