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Free online Course on Knowledge Management


A great myth about knowledge is that knowledge resides in books or documents.


What resides in a book or a document does not constitute knowledge any more than the musical notes on a score sheet constitute music. What reside in a book are mere codifications and representations, and even when they are decoded they would still constitute information and not knowledge.


Managing knowledge and information has suddenly become as important as managing financial capital or physical plant. As industry is urgently searching for ways of managing the knowledge asset, it is becoming clear that the old military command-and-control model of the industrial past would not work in the knowledge era. And the knowledge asset, for the most part, wasn't exactly corporate property stored somewhere in the company warehouse. It is to be found in the heads of its knowledge workers. Although not yet expressed in financial statements, employees became assets, not liabilities - they hold the knowledge.


Associations will have to adapt quickly. They will need to rethink what they're doing, how they're doing it and why. They'll need to tear down barriers and antiquated processes; replace them with a systematic approach to knowledge-sharing based on the dynamics of a changing knowledge market.


From lessons learned by early adopters of knowledge management, we know we need to understand what knowledge is, find out who has it, reorganize operations to nourish and manage it, change the work culture to support it and build knowledge networks around it.


What then is knowledge? And what is information? How is knowledge different from information?


Information is organized, systematized data. And what are data? Data are statements about reality or about other data. They are representations about the world – be it physical, social, psychological, organizational, or any other form of reality.

Data becomes information when they are organized according to certain preferences and placed in a context, which defines their meaning and relevance. Information is meaningful, contextualized data, but not yet knowledge. It is clear that as compared to information which is an objectification, knowledge involves subject formation.


Information can become knowledge when a human being interacts with it, appropriates it and makes it her/his own, contextualizes it by placing it in relation to other knowledge that are already her/his own, and internalizes it by making it a part of his belief system.


Knowledge, then, is people-based. Its information that has been processed, analyzed, distilled and packaged by the human mind.


Information is not knowledge. That became painfully clear during the Information Age when organizations invested heavily in information technology only to find themselves drowning in vast in-house caches of meaningless and unused data. Now they are inundated externally with even more mega-tons of information, unfiltered on-line. Organizations that do not understand the difference between knowledge and information will fall once again into the technology trap.



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