KM/LO interface-flint and tinder LO20663

AM de Lange (
Mon, 15 Feb 1999 13:53:12 +0200

Replying to LO20634 --

Dear Organlearners,

Tom Abeles <> writes

>Now, I need help, again. What is it that drives people to purchase
>this or any commodity from a sophisticated KM consulting
>package to the latest air freshner? What is the price that is being
>paid by the individual and the organization? What is gained? And
>will KM stand next to LO etc, like Macy's, Bloomingdales and the
>other anchors in the Mall of America?

Greetings Tom,

As for buying anything which is offered, that is a study in its own

As for buying Knowledge Management (KM) software, it reminds me of the
encyclopedia business. The buyers are told that the encyclopedia will
be a great benefit to them. But once bought, they seldom if ever read
the encyclopedia.

KM makes use of the notion that an organisation owns the knowledge of
its workers because it has paid for that knowledge by paying the
workers a salary. This ownership is a dehumanising notion. Nobody can
own any part of the body or mind of another person. The organisation
can avoid this "knowledge ownership notion" of KM by making a deal
with the person to transform a specified part of his knowledge into
information, retreiveable by a physical system (traditional paper
based books or computer based files). The organisation pays for such
information which then becomes an asset of the organisation. This
asset can then be made available to the other workers by KM

I cannot stress enough that what goes into a paper based book or a
computer based file, is information, not knowledge. Knowledge is
something which exists only within a person as a result of learning.
Getting that knowledge or part of it transformed into physically
articulated information, is a very complex process. For example, only
the formal (explicate) level of knowledge can be readily transformed
whereas the tacit level of knowledge resists such a transformation
notoriously. In KM software the knowledge worker is leaded by
questions and examples in a pidgeon hole fashion.
to draw out this information.

Transforming that information of KM back into knowledge is even more
complex. The notion that whoever read through a KM file or book will
be filled up with knowledge is a myth. It did not work with books the
past four centuries. It will als not work with computer files the next
four centuries. If the next person memorises that information it does
not mean that the person now has knowledge. Memorisation is not
learning. Learning is the first order emergent of creating. This
"learning" with no creative undertone to it like memorisation should
not be confused with authentic learning.

>This KM/LO interface seems to have provided a clear
>opportunity to gain a serious understanding of the situation.
>It seems like a convergence between flint and tinder and I
>am hoping those who can see through this "glass darkly"
>can provide some critical insights.

Authentic learning have two major phases running in a cycle. The first
phase is emergent learning which happens far from equilbrium at the
edge of chaos. Here the entropy production is very high. This phase
gives birth to bare concepts. The second phase of digestive learning
which happens close to equilbrium. Here the entropy production is very
low. It is in the digestive phase where KM plays an essential role. In
this phase the learner digest information in terms of the bare
concpets acquired through emergent learning.

I do not think in terms of a LO/KM interface. KM is only a minor part
of a LO. KM occurs in both the disciplines Team Learning and Personal
mastery. If the relationship of KM to the LO tends to confuse you,
think of old, good, ordinary books and the part they play in LOs. It
is there where you will also find KM based on computer files. It is
one think to have a large bank of KM data. It is another thing to
learn by using this large bank of data. One of the most important
things is the motivation to do so. Literature on KM is nototiously
silent on motivation and KM. It is because KM has a serious
intimidation factor which easily drains the motivation of knowledge

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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