June 08, 2012

Knowledge Pyramid

I came across an interesting piece of an article talking about the “knowledge pyramid”, or the data – information – knowledge – wisdom pyramid, or the knowledge hierarchy.

Looking at the figure below, at first glance, you can tell the difference between data, information and knowledge, and you can understand why they were positioned in that way; however, I find it quite difficult to differentiate between those terms, especially the thin line between knowledge and wisdom which is quite vague.

Many literatures and specialised websites have defined each one of these, but frankly speaking I still don’t understand the difference, even though I know that this framework is based on the complexity and understanding of the knowledge; the more the knowledge becomes complex and requires more understanding of that knowledge the hierarchy moves up to the next level. That is to say that knowledge is simple at the lowest levels and becomes much more complex at the top, where it requires a deep understanding of knowledge.

Anyway, by the time of writing this blog, I have managed to form a slight idea about each term, and find the thin line between each one of them. At the bottom of the pyramid, Data is the description of the world; it is facts that we can sense around us, while Information is processed data, “data with meaning”, we could also call it “weak knowledge”, but when it comes to knowledge; it’s quite an elusive term, there has been dozens of definitions for knowledge, but I haven’t been convinced by one of them, and couldn’t find a suitable one which is short, and sets this clear differentiation between knowledge and information on the one hand, and knowledge and wisdom on the other hand. Finally, the top of the pyramid is wisdom which comes from experience, it is a lengthy process, and people acquire it over time.

Overall, because of that confusion, does anybody have an answer to this question, and above all, if wisdom is at the top of the hierarchy, why don’t we aim that level rather than aiming to manage knowledge effectively, in other words why don’t we aim to manage wisdom, which I could partly answer it as very few people have this quality, is this really the answer? Could anyone help me out?

Knowledge Pyramid

- 2 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Vagelis

    The tower reminded me of T.S.Eliot

    “Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?”

    Therefore it is about understanding the process that the arrow shows and not the pyramid’s levels themsselves.

    As far as your last question is concerned please the following two articles may shed some light to your inquiries:

    Grieves, J. (2008). Why we should abandon the idea of the learning organization. The Learning Organization, 15(6), pp. 463-473
    Rowley, J., Gibbs, P., (2008). From Learning organization to practically wise organization. The Learning Organization, 15(5), pp 356-372

    10 Jun 2012, 08:55

  2. Hi,

    Thanks a lot for your comment, I will go directly to those two articles. And by the way The statement of T.S. Eliot is a very good explanation of this pyramid.

    10 Jun 2012, 23:05

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