Exploing the difference between Information management and Knowledge management

It was a feeling of disquiet around Randy Kaplan's Newsletter of 11/15/1999 that first made me aware of the difference between my view and mainstream KM. Started by DenhamGrey 11/19/1999

Randy's newsletter #24 11/15/1999, http://www.accsys-corp.com/knowldgWORKS_News_Index/kworks24/kworks24.html contains a glowing review of "Managing Knowledge" 1999 by Wayne Applehans, Alden Globe and Greg Laugero, the J. D. Edwards KM folks who give you a no frills KM guide. So I went out and purchased the book. Reading this short volume revealed much about KM that I find off target, poor strategy and unsuitable for the long haul, let's dig in:

At the start

I found the opening gambit to be the start of my ire, a feeling that persisted for the entire book except for their chapter 6 which I think is very much on target. How could I be so otherwise?. A mild disparaging view of KM classics (Nonaka, Stewart, Davenport & Pursak) hints that much current work is too complex and that the way is to adopt a content focus, suggests to me the authors are starting off on the wrong foot. There is nothing easy, simple or recipe-like about knowledge, that is what makes makes KM a difficult domain in the first place!, Can you just sweep this complexity under the carpet with statements like "Our purpose is not to address the nature of knowledge"?

I posit it is exactly a deep understanding and clear appreciation for the nature and properties of knowledge, that make the difference between IM & KM, that this difference will confer competitive advantage over the long haul, that the nuances in these distinctions will separate the men from the boys in this field.

Their Assumptions

  • Managing knowledge means delivering the information and data people need to be effective in their jobs seems me to be a very shallow goal for KM. Where is creativity, reflection, awareness, intentional design, adaption to chaos and complexity, where is the self-organization, where is the intelligence & learning in KM if we all take this POV?
  • KM does not have to be profound: pot shots at theoretical KM, intellectual books, and a posturing for the 'simpler way'.
  • Document management concepts, technologies and procedures provide the basic disciplines to launch a successful KM effort.

Wrong, misgided, incorrect and foolhardy!!

My disquiet

Randy's review should have alerted me, this book is about driving KM from an information object paradigm. (see below)

<Tom Sudman> JD Edwards is amongst the many ERP vendors that must bring us back to a simpler and information based model to survive. They do not understand the unstructured world of knowledge. Suddenly information off the web and portal were of more value than their ERP systems. More knowledge was discovered about a customers need by reading their web site that reading green bar reports. Now they have proclaimed their systems a portal when a year ago it was client server forever.

Knowledge is not complex, it is just not predictable, because it is of humans and subject to free will. While knowledge makes use of any and all good document management principles it is knowledge and not DM that caused action. Knowledge can be negotiated into alignment but not classified into alignment. A well organized library in which nobody enters, has no knowledge and will bring no action; whereas, a single book in a home engaged by human knowledge will bring action. In fact it has always been the librarians and literacy programs not the library that brought value.

I would be equally stressed by this book.

well, Denham, you may have saved me some money, because I was totally prepared to ante up for this book after Randy's review! If I understand the objections above, they are based 1) a fear of over-simplifying the concept of knowledge itself and 2) a reliance on doc management instead of content management? I am also unsure of what you mean when you say this book reduces KM to an "information object paradigm" CarolTucker 1Dec99

Carol, re information object paradigm, in essence, this view claims there is little or no difference between knowledge and information, that you can capture knowledge in the form of objects and artifacts, that when you pass the objects (push), allow others access to their content, or store them away for search and retrieval operations you are making knowledge available. I'm not as radical as JackSpivak here, but I certainly recognize there is a vast difference between knowledge flows (perhaps the knowledge lives in the spaces between the documents?) and workflow which directs, schedules and passes objects to people.

Knowledge (for me) then is about personal and group interpretation and the social negotiation around meaning rather than static content. I'm not sure how you distinguish document and content management Carol, those terms live in the same space for me. The key distinction I try to make between information & knowledge is in the dialog, social interaction, developing joint (shared) understanding and making meaning which happens around knowledge creation that is not a part of information packaging.

TS- I would offer up that document management is the attempt to keep a particular document accessable while content management is the attempt to add process to the revisions of the document such that it reflects current thinking. Content management may produce artifacts that are closer to the knowledge of a group. The two process schemes can converge. TomSudman? 12/2/99

Why Information Technology Inspired But Cannot Deliver Knowledge Management Richard McDermott?, California Management Review, Summer 1999.

"Recent developments in information technology have inspired many companies to imagine a new way for staff to share knowledge and insights. Instead of storing documents in personal files and sharing personal insights with a small circle of colleagues, they can store documents in a common information base and use electronic networks to share insights with their whole community, even people scattered across the globe. However, most companies soon discover that leveraging knowledge is actually very hard and is more dependent on community building than information technology. This is not because people are reluctant to use information technology, rather it is because they often need to share knowledge that is neither obvious nor easy to document, knowledge that requires a human relationship to think about, understand, share, and appropriately apply. Ironically, while information technology has inspired the "knowledge revolution," it takes building human communities to realize it." Seems to be coming from the same place as my disquiet DCG 12/02

OL vs. KM same as IM vs. KM same as KE vs. KM ??

Rick Karash takes much the same view when he makes this distinction between OL and KM as I try to make between KM and KE. http://www.learning-org.com/99.12/0131.html