Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Knowledge Management

It is my strong opinion that Knowledge is in your head, between 2 ears and two hemispheres! Depending on the focus you have on which and what information you are interpreting, one of the hemispheres is more dominant than the other 1). When you're enjoying listening to music, the right hemisphere is more dominant. Analyzing the music would request more dominance from the left hemisphere of the brain.

The interpretation of any information is uniquely defined by the biography of each person 2). Listening to the music may recall a memory of sweetness or sadness in ones personal past. This interpretation will immediately influence the experience that one has right now. The storage in memory was originally done based on the filters that were important at that moment. We need these filters to protect ourselves from information overload.

The same principles apply to any information (i.e. data) systems. They cannot really be called knowledge systems, because, as I stated before, knowledge is uniquely defined by ones personal biography. On the other hand one may suggest that the information that was put into an information system was the result of the filters, defined by people within an organisation. In such a way, an organisation has something like a "biography" based on the history and future outlook of it's founders and present members.

Ones biography largely defines the personality of that person. In that way, one could also define the "personality" of an organisation as "
a dynamic and organized set of characteristics possessed by [an organisation] that uniquely influences [their] cognitions, motivations, and behaviors in various situations 3)" The word "personality" originates from the Latin: persona, meaning mask. We generally perceive a mask as a tool to hide ones identity. In the theater of the old Latin-speaking world it was not used as a disguise, but rather as a typification of the character played in that role.

This brings about the words character, identity and role. Just like with a person, these last mentioned 3 elements largely define how an organisation is perceived by it's environment. The public, watching the role played by the actor on the stage of a rapidly growing theater, called "the internet" will judge the character of that role. However wonderful the original person (i.e. organisation) may be internally, playing that role, the public will largely define the identity of the player by the way the role is played on stage.

Based on the assumption that
the knowledge structure of each person is "biographically determined" 2), we may assume that an organisation also has a knowledge structure, uniquely determined by all the different experiences that defines the "personality" and "identity" of that organisation. The knowledge structure within the organisation is therefore important as it defines largely how an organisation is perceived by "the public".

[to be continued ...]

  1. Alfred Schutz: Phenomenology of the Social World [ISBN 0-8101-0390-7]
  2. Richard M. Ryckman: Theories of Personality

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