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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


May 27, 2012

Asymmetric Information in Organisations

Globalisation has changed the way we live and interact, and more people being able to easily access all types of information. To this end, information technology has increased the amount of information to organisations compared to others, and therefore one of these organisations can take advantage of the other organisation’s lack of knowledge in any contractual relationship, this is referred to as “asymmetric information”. This area is considered as a branch of economic theory or contract theory. This situation occurs where there is imperfect knowledge, or in other words where there is an inequality of information between two different parties in a contract or business arrangement.

For an instance, in an employment contract as an applicant and a company, at the start of the employment contract, the two different parties have less information about each other. The employee or new comer knows more about his/her abilities and his/her commitment to stay in the company than the company knows. On the other side of the coin, the employee has some perceptions about his/her organisation which might be partly true or partly false as contrary to the employer. Or in organisational decision making where organisations need as much information and knowledge to make a robust decision making in different organsitational aspects.

These examples give a clear understanding of how asymmetric information is important to be understood by organisations. Applying this area of contract theory to different aspects of organisational operations and functions such as employment, procurement and logistics, training and development, etc. are crucial for the organisational success, and thriving in this tough competitive world of business today.


Sharing Knowledge Vs Sharing Information

When we say that people within an organisation share knowledge, do we mean that literally or are we actually trying to say that people share information. From my own perspective, most of the time people share information rather than sharing knowledge, and often, when we say that we share knowledge we are actually saying that we are just sharing information. I think sharing knowledge is much more a complicated process than sharing information.

I have tried to search for some articles or literatures about the differences between these two terms on the internet but I didn’t find anything which could help me out in this regard. However, if we go back to their original meanings in the Cambridge and Oxford dictionary we could reckon the difference as the following:

  1. Knowledge has been defined by Cambridge and Oxford dictionaries respectively:
  • “Understanding of or information about a subject which a person gets by experience or study, and which is either in a person's mind or known by people generally”.
  • “Facts, information, and skills acquired through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject”.

2. While Information has been defined by Cambridge dictionary as: “facts about a situation, person, event, etc”.

In this regard, one aspect of knowledge is information, but in this case information is being processed within our minds by the learning or education we go through, whereas information is just facts and numbers, etc. knowledge is processed information within people’s mind, it is not just raw data stored in their minds, but rather it’s more of an experience they went through a situation or an event.

With this in mind, it is a learning process and an experience rather than just storing data in the head of employees. Organisations must ensure that the learning taking place in organisations is not just from one side, but it’s a two – way process by which they engage and involve employees in the learning process, and apply tools to ensure that the value of learning and money invested in learning is maximised.

I think most of the organisations share information, meanwhile they pretend that they are sharing knowledge; in fact they are just sharing information. This transition for organisations to move ahead from sharing information to sharing knowledge is one of the big challenges faced by them nowadays.


May 06, 2012

Transferable skills

I thought at the end of the module that I didn’t learn that much about knowledge management and how to apply it for an effective management of assets within organisations, but after raising this issue to Paul during the module review I realised that we learned quite a lot, not about the module only but about many things and some other learning points which we previously had like leadership, team learning, time management, presentation skills, and other relevant stuff and transferable skills.

What really makes me passionate about this is the creativity of this learning style and how it prepare us for the real life cases where it doesn’t really differ that much from what we are really experiencing, but at the same time we are aware that the real world is not safe, and it is very hard and difficult and sometime frustrating to apply what we really learnt.

It’s not what you really know but the way you will communicate it, and how you will send the message to convince the other party whether they were your company or your clients, those little bits really matters and makes the difference.


Different Types of Knowledge Organisations

There are three different types of organisations which I know so far which goes under the category of knowledge management: knowledge intensive organisations, knowledge based organisations and learning organisations.

I am sure that those three types have common characteristics between them, at the same time there has to be some differences between them, and that is what I really want to know, the thin line which differentiate them from each other. We went through learning organisations in different modules but we didn’t have the chance to go in depth about knowledge intensive organisations.

I have tried to search on this topic but I didn’t really find anything which might answer my question. I forgot to ask Paul about this, and I do hope he could answer me on this topic.


Ignorance Management

Going through the literature of knowledge management, I came by something called “Ignorance Management”. In the first place, I thought it is the opposite of knowledge management, but actually IM and KM are the two sides of the same coin. However, perceiving knowledge management in a different way might be much better, as for instance, there is always much more to learn, and manage what organisations don’t know is just better than managing what they currently know. I know it is of big importance to create, exploit, collect and share what they know, but more critically is to be aware that there is a limit for knowledge and organisations cannot know everything.

Ignorance management is based on the idea that organisations must always seek for knowledge they don’t have, because assuming that the knowledge they have is enough is not a good sign of management, and ignoring this fact might leave the organisation behind its competitors. Therefore it is not about managing the current knowledge within organisations only but adopting a culture of transparency and awareness of organisational ignorance.


May 05, 2012

Learning Organisations & Knowledge Management

With regard to our mini – project, I was wondering about which comes first in application, is it the principles of learning organisations or knowledge management?

The whole point of knowledge management is to make sure that the knowledge present in an organisation is applied productively for the benefit of that organisation, and as a result this what makes a learning organisation, but managing knowledge effectively within organisations requires a culture where organisations could identify, capture and store critical knowledge, and this could be done by adopting the five disciplines of Senge’s organisational learning.

So is it knowledge management that drives an organisations towards a learning organisation, or is it the characteristics that organisational learning have that makes an effective knowledge management system within an organisation.

Definitely, the two terms overlap, and organisations are in such need for both of them, and from my point of view, I think that those two are applied in parallel, and each one is the end result for the other.


April 26, 2012

Customer Service & Knowledge Management

One of the main things that differentiate companies is there customer service. In this regard, how could we link customer service to knowledge management? Well first of all knowledge management provides a better customer service in terms of quality, time and the right information. It is all about the knowledge asset, strategy and the process within a company in which the customer service fits in.

What brought this into my mind is what I have experienced recently with a bank and a telecommunication company, it was completely a waste of time and it really got on my nerves. I don’t want to go into details, but the customer service was trashy from my own perspective as a customer. And this reminds me of what Tom Peters said: “American management is out of touch with its customers, out of touch with its employees, out of touch with its suppliers. Other than that, it is in pretty good shape”. This also might be applicable on some aspects in the UK business concerning customer service.

There can be no doubt that knowledge management could improve the customer service in any organisation as it could provide for an instance :

  • The ability of the customer care agents to solve problems and take initiatives, and by sharing the knowledge and experience within the pool of those involved in the process.
  • A better quality of customer service. Getting the right answer without being put on hold or transferred to another customer support.
  • A good standardisation of the quality and ensure the consistency of service.

One of main important factors is sharing knowledge and experiences, creating a safe learning environment within the company. Shrewdly, this will transform the organisation into a learning organisation and into a knowledge intensive organisation where people can feel safe to share openly and take risks, provide a continuous learning on an individual and group level, and where people master their speciality to satisfy the stakeholders or the internal and external customers.


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