Analysis is the process of interpreting data and information. One may order the
data for easier interpretation or take the raw data and use it to create information and
wisdom. Analysis requires data input and outputs something based on the data, experience,
and previously learned wisdom of the people involved.
Artificial ignorance occurs when truth is sacrificed in favor of reverence
or ritual. People practice artificial ignorance when they behave without thinking
about the reason behind the actions. They follow the rules, practices, procedures,
or laws exactly without thinking of the implications and results. Humorous fictional examples
include Amelia Bedilia in the books by Peggy Parish, Silly Jack in English folklore and
the Wise Men of Chelm in Jewish folklore.
Artificial intelligence occurs when analysis and the search for truth takes
precedence over the creative and human activities of a job. People who practice
artificial intelligence behave with so much thinking and analysis that the feeling,
intuition, and art of making decisions is sacrificed.
Barriers are objects, ideas, practices, structures, systems, etc. that prevent
or discourage action. Sometimes physical barriers are necessary for physical safety.
Security barriers are important for an organization to protect assets. Barriers are
not good when they discourage, sharing, creativity, service and other forms of positive
Cataloging is the systematic organization of information, data, or materials
so that they can be retrieved when the requester needs them. Cataloging follows rules
and practices to enable users to understand the system. Putting words in alphabetical
order in a dictionary or index is one example of cataloging. Alphabetical order has
rules so that the lexicographer and the end user can find words. A librarian-cataloger
follows rules established by national and global organizations. The rules are flexible
enough to enable interpretation and localization. Rules also include controlled
vocabulary for subject headings.
A business cataloger follows the business rules of the organization.
Explicit Knowledge is the captured and cataloged information and knowledge
that is made ready for people to use.
Sometimes within businesses the term, taxonomy, is used for the classification
of knowledge. A good taxonomy or catalog enables the same knowledge to be accessed
via multiple paths.
Classification is a system of arranging ideas or physical objects in hierarchal
and enumerative schemes. Schemes may be based on national standards such library
classification systems (for example: Library of Congress Classification, Dewey Decimal
Classification, or National Library of Medicine Classification) or internally developed.
Classification systems arrange materials in an order. In libraries multiple orders
may exist such as reference collections, children collections or branch libraries.
In businesses multiple orders many include departments, branches or other segregations
of materials. Library classifications are based on subjects. Business classifications
are based on logical arrangements for each business. Linear or systematic arrangements
impose limits on the classifiers. The classification of digital documents does not
have physical and temporal limits on accessibility as books or physical documents.
Numbers, letters or symbols are the shorthand codes for arranging materials. These
codes help people who don't have expert knowledge of the subjects store and retrieve
materials in the correct places.
For classification systems to work they must 1) Encompass the whole field of knowledge
or business activity and allow for future revisions; 2) Be systematic 3) Be logical;
4) Be flexible enough so that new subjects may be inserted without dislocating current
materials; 5) Be kept current; and 6) Employ terminology that is clear, consistent,
and unambiguous for the classifier and end users.
Communities of Interest include the people within the organization or those
outside the organization who share interests in an aspect of the business or profession.
For example professional staff may join professional organizations to share common
interests and offer each other support. This is especially important when the organization
has few people in that profession. Within the organization staff may share business
interests separate from their professional interests. These communities may be formal
and organized such as professional organizations or informal such as people talking
to people in other departments about common business interests.
People are linked by proximity, electronic communications, printed documents,
published articles, or books. Electronic links could include Internet mailing lists,
wikis, RSS, web sites, or news groups. Print resources may include newsletters,
trade journals, professional periodicals and scholarly journals. Members of the
community do not possess equal levels of expertise, but they are associated by their
desire to share and learn from others. The nature of the association changes and
develops over time. A neophyte may need a lot of support at the beginning and later
evolve into knowledge provider.
Communities may or may not be open to all who wish to join. professional organizations
may place educational or experience requirements on membership. Restricted membership
organizations are communities of practice for experts. In businesses, these experts,
based on their knowledge, are designated for specific subjects. Other groups may be
open to anyone who wants to contribute, share, or learn.
Critical thinking is an intellectual process that questions assumptions, data and
information. Children are very literal in their understanding of lanuage and the world.
(see above Artificial ignorance)
Education and maturity teach students to examine any claim, idea, or text to determine
if it is true, partially true, false, or somewhere in between.
Critical thinking relies on a body of data and information to create wisdom which is
based on sound logical conclusions. While the body of knowledge changes from one disciple
to the other, process of seeking the truth is common to all. A mature, critical thinker
raises questions, examines facts, and confronts issues before formulating conclusions.*
Culture is a combination of organizational
history, shared experiences, group expectations, unwritten or tacit rules, ethics,
and social interactions that affect the behavior of everyone in the organization.
Culture is developed dejure (organizational rules and pronouncements from upper management)
and defacto based on shared experience. Culture is a complex social structure. Sometimes
it evolves slowly based on worker actions and sometimes change is enacted by management.
We simultaneously participate in many cultures such as families, localoties, religious groups,
nations, and organizations. One culture may permit an action, while another forbids it.
In organizations culture can be consciously changed with a new rule from an executive.
Culture can als be changed by external stimuli (for example a new law or government regulation
that affects business practices). If culture places barriers to sharing knowledge,
the organization needs to take actions to create an atmosphere that reduces barriers
and becomes more supportive and collaborative.
Data are the smallest units of measure. The word is technically the plural of
datum but often used as a singular. Data are the components of information. They
may be the 1's and 0's of computer memory, names and addresses in a demographic file, or
the raw facts and figures before interpretation. Data are stored in data bases. Data
processing is the electronic manipulation of data.
Data Mining (also known as Knowledge Discovery in Databases - KDD) is extraction
of implicit, previously unknown, and potentially useful information from data bases.
The process uses machine learning, statistical correlations, statistical analysis,
and sophisticated search strategies to extract data in such a way that the information is
easily comprehensible. Then the human decides how to turn this information into
knowledge. The source data bases are usually already owned by the organization.
Data mining is frequently used by marketing departments to learn more about customers
and how to better market products and services. The skilled knowledge manager will help
create data base search strategies that enable successful data mining. However, in some
ways data mining is the antithesis of what a knowledge manager is trying to accomplish in an
organization. A knowledge manager sets up systems to store and retrieve information on
a timely basis; a data miner seeks information in data bases that was previously
De-acquisition is the intential removal of items from a collection. It is the opposite of acquisitions and done with the
same care and deliberation. *
Discussion Forum is an in-person or electronic forum for staff or like-minded
individuals to exchange ideas, post questions, offer answers, or offer help on relevant
subjects. Electronic forums also provide ways of archiving (or storing) and searching
for previous exchanges. "Listserv" is a type of electronic forum.
Ethics is a process of applying or breaking the rules to get the right answers.
Making ethical decisions envolves knowing the cultures and the rules of the organization and the
laws of the land.
Ideas are mental pictures, or dreams that are unproven. They may or may not be
verbalized or recorded. They are not yet substantiated by data, but may be based
on the person's knowledge. Good ideas may have a positive impact on the organization
if they can be substantiated or validated by data or input from others. Bad ideas
are those that have no ability to be implemented. Both good and bad ideas
may help in the process of determining the best course of action.
Ignorance is the state of not knowing.
Ignorance occurs when those who can benefit from knowledge are unwilling or unable
to find or assimilate the knowledge. The flip side of ignorance is having
knowledge and not having any way of sharing that knowledge.
organized data that has been arranged for better comprehension, understanding and/or
retrieval. What is one person's information can become another person's data.
Intellectual Capital is the same as the knowledge asset
of an organization. Knowledge assets help achieve business goals. This capital is the set of
intangible assets that includes the internal knowledge of employees have of information processes,
external and internal experts, products, customers and competitors. Intellectual
capital includes internal proprietary reports, libraries, patents, copyrights,
and licenses that record the company history and help it plan for tomorrow.
Knowledge is the result of learning.
Knowledge is the internalization of information, data, and experience.
Tacit Knowledge is the personal knowledge resident within the mind, behavior
and perceptions of individual members of the organization. Explicit Knowledge
is the formal, recorded, or systematic knowledge in the form of scientific formulae,
procedures, rules, organizational archives, principles, etc., and can easily be accessed,
transmitted, or stored in computer files or hard copy.
Knowledge Management Staff are the people in the
organization assigned the task of providing the leadership and implementation of the
policy for the creation, capture, storage, cataloging, and sharing of organizational
knowledge. Sometimes the organization appoints a chief knowledge officer (CKO) and
sometimes the tasks are performed by other managers. The person in charge is the
focal point or switching point for all knowledge related tasks. This person works
with those in technology, human relations, and operational units to create the
requisite infrastructure and management policies. Alternative job titles for the
person in charge of knowledge management might be director of knowledge mobilization,
director of global knowledge exchange, and senior vice president over strategic
A Knowledge architect is the staff member
who oversees the definitions of knowledge and intellectual processes and then identifies the
technological and human resources required to create, capture, organize, access and
use knowledge assets. Architecture is the technology and human infrastructure to support
the organization's KM initiatives. It includes physical (e.g., hardware and tools)
and logical (e.g., knowledge policies) dimensions.
Learning is the complex process of assimilating stimuli and
changing behavior. The stimuli can be received by any of the senses. Many learning situations
use stimuli of multiple senses. For example one listens, practices with the hands,
and then explains. Learning happens in situations when people are using their minds best.
Learning styles vary by person and situation. While most people learn with a combination of
seeing, hearing, and motion (tactile or physical), some people show a preference to one
of these types of input or stimuli. Adults as well as children learn using a methodology
that is suitable for their condition and the subject they are learning. Everyone has to figure
out what methodology and stimuli combination works best for them and the job of a teacher is
to help the student in this journey of discovery. Learning is a process that is self perpetuating
because each step of learning creates a foundation for the next step.
Knowledge assets, also called intellectual capital, are the human, structural and
recorded resources available to the organization. Assets reside within the minds of members,
customers, and colleagues and also include physical structures and recorded media.
Knowledge audit is the formal process to determination and evaluation of how
and where information knowledge is used within the organization. The audit examines policies,
forms, procedures, storage and any other ways that knowledge is collected, stored, cataloged and stored.
Knowledge bridge is the connection that a KM expert builds between the business
processes and the technological, sociological, personal, financial, sales, creative, and customer
oriented functions of the organization. Building a knowledge bridge is the 'glue'
making the long-term connections between the functions that sometimes compete for resources.
Knowledge creation is the process that results in new knowledge, or organizes current
knowledge in new ways making techniques to use existing knowledge. Once knowledge is created
the organization has a Knowledge flow, which is the way knowledge
travels, grows, is stored and retrieved. Knowledge flows 1) Up and down
from management; 2) Within circles of sharing (such as shared interests
between staff performing similar or complementary roles) 3) Through
planning, investigation, and training; or 4) Through common sources such
as books, reports, data bases or knowledge bases.
Knowledge facilitators help harness the wealth of knowledge in the organization.
Facilitators engender a sense of ownership in those involved, by helping them arrive at a
jointly developed solution.
Know-how is the technical expression of knowledge or how to physically apply
knowlege in the physical world. Examples are the manual and mental skills of a master
craftsman or tradesman.
Knowledge lens is the perspective or viewpoint of the problem or situation. A KM
expert brings experience from many industries or disciplines to focus valuable insights or
illuminate new ideas. Through this lens the KM expert synthesizes the situation and helps makes
sense of disparate pieces.
Knowledge map (K-Map)
is a tangible representation or catalog of the concepts and relationships of knowledge. The
catalog is a navigational aid that enables a user to find the desired concept, and then
retrieve relevant knowledge sources.
Knowledge source is the person, document, non-print source, or place that is the
origin or prime cause of knowledge. Others may see you as a source and you turn to your own
sources for knowledge.
Knowledge owner is the person or people who are responsible for knowledge, a knowledge
domain, or set of documents. The knowledge owner is responsible for keeping the knowledge
and information current, relevant, and complete. The knowledge owner usually acts at a local
or decentralized level. The knowledge owner may or may not be the author or creator of the
specific content. The owner may be the expert in the subject area or a skilled editor.
Knowledge use is the effective integration of knowledge by people or organizations.
It is the result of understanding and application of knowledge and the knowledge gathering
process. It is hard to define because it is the result and application of all the terms defined
on this page.
Knowledge worker is a member of the organization who uses knowledge to be a more
productive worker. These workers use all varieties of knowledge in the performance of
their regular business activities. Everyone who uses any form of recorded knowledge could
be considered a knowledge worker.
Alternative job titles for person in charge of knowledge management: Director of
knowledge mobilization, Director, global knowledge exchange, and Senior VP,
strategic knowledge capabilities.
An alternative view of the definition of learning -- Learning in the
context of a business is a process to acquire knowledge or skills to enhance the ability
to perform business or professional activities. The end result is the person can help
better the business's bottom line. Learning helps an individual or group work better,
faster, more efficiently, or smarter.
Magic is the use of words, actions, or reading of signs to influence nature or people.
Magic has no place in knowledge management. One must use solid techniques with a scientific
basis to change people and organizations. Change is not caused by magic.
Management is the organizational process that includes strategic planning,
setting objectives, managing resources, deploying the human and financial assets needed
to achieve objectives, and measuring results. Management also includes recording and
storing facts and information for later use or for others within the organization.
Management functions are not limited to managers and supervisors.
Every member of the organization has some management and reporting functions as part of their job.
Metadata is structured information that describes, explains, locates, or otherwise
makes it easier to retrieve, use or manage an information resource. The Dublin Core is an
example of a standard. It was developed for libraries to be simple and concise. The current
Dublin Core standard defines fifteen metadata elements (title, subject, description, source,
language, relation, coverage, creator, publisher, contributor, rights, date, type, format,
and identifier) for resource description in a cross-disciplinary information environment.
A library catalog is an example of metadata for books and other library materials. A product
catalog is metadata for the products a company sells or distributes.
Metadata has become a "buzz" word and is mis-used. In a library the catalog contains "metadata"
on each item (book and non-books) in the library. In an organization "metadata" is used
to describe the products, items, raw materials, or human resources. The human resources metadata
contains the demographic description (name, address, office, etc.) for each person. The product metadata
contain the name, physical description, quantity, etc. for each product bought and sold.
Motivation is the push of the mental forces to accomplish an action. Unsatisfied
needs, motivate. On the biological level basic human needs of food, shelter and survival
are powerful motivators. On the psychological level people need to be understood, affirmed,
validated and appreciated. On the business level motivation occurs when people perceive a
clear business reason for pursuing a transfer of knowledge or practices.
Personal Competence is a collection of behaviors including concentration, intensity,
persistence, and self-sufficiency. Concentration is required to examine, contemplate and make
decisions. Intensity refers to the depth of involvement in an activity. Time is an important
component of both concentration and intensity. One must invest the proper amount of time to
accomplish the task. People must take the time to concentrate which enables persistence.
Self-sufficiency is measured by the number and duration of responses that solve problems.
Practices are the techniques, methodologies, procedures, and processes that are
used in the organizations to get the job done. Good practices are those practices that
have fostered improved business results and continue to enable the organization to improve.
Bad practices are those that are detrimental to good business results. Data are gathered to
create information that is used to measure results and determine if the practice is good,
bad, or worth further investigation.
Best practices are any practices, use of knowledge, or experience
that have been proven by data or experience to be valuable or effective to individuals,
groups, or organizations. These best practices may be useful or be applicable
Local best practices are practices that have been used by a department or other
unit of an organization. Based on analysis, these practices have been determined to be
helpful to other departments or units of the organization.
Industry best practices are practices that have been determined from outside of
the organization as helpful approaches to large numbers of organizations within that industry.
These best practices may be reported in written sources based on investigative reporting
or based on agreements or conventions of trade or professional groups. For example articles
or books may be written about a practice that one company does that has improved their
performance. This is a very common occurrence in the literature.
Query is a question or series of questions that are presented to a knowledge
management system or information retrieval system. Data and information can be retrieved
with a query. The most precise queries are those which return the fewest false drops.
The result of a query needs interpretation by the requestor. A query may return sorted or
Relationships are the connections people have with other
people. Relationships may be between people with personal connections or those with
connections based on print, media or correspondence. People absorb more knowledge when the
bond is with someone they know and respect. Good relationships create a unity necessary to
run effective organizations. One is more likely to share knowledge with those who share
personal relationships. Building relationships is a mutually helpful activity for creating
Sharing is the human behavior that describes the exchange of knowledge.
Sharing and learning are social activities and may occur in face-to-face meetings or via
aural, written or visual stimuli. At least two people are required for sharing. Sharing knowledge
is a positive activity in an organization. Coveting knowledge is the opposite of sharing.
Storytelling is the skilled delivery of stories use to present anecdotal evidence,
clarify a point, support a point of view and crystallize ideas. A story can present material
that research data can not. Stories use verbal pictures to spark interest, add variety, and
change the pace of a discussion. Stories make dull speeches sparkle. Storytelling is the
connecting device between data and reality. Stories can share a "truth" that data can not.
Storytelling can help bridge the gap between data and knowledge. It also could be the result
of integrating information. A well chosen story gets the audience's attention. Knowledge
managers use storytelling as a device and tool for sharing knowledge. Storytelling allows
you to present dreams and tell about the past.
Click here for more on storytelling.
Stupid in the exact opposite of what should be in a collection of knowledge management terms because "stupid" means one has not used
knowledge or wisdom to make a decision. Knowing the facts and choosing not to use them is stupidity in action. For a full discussion see my
article, "What is Stupidity" parts 1
and 2. *
Technology is the set of tools both hardware (physical) and software (algorithms,
philosphical systems, or procedures) that help us act and think better. Technology includes
all the objects from a basic pencil and paper to the latest electronic gadget. Electronic and computer
technology help use share information and knowledge quickly and efficiently. What
was previously slow and tedious is now easier and more realistic. Any tool has the
potential to remove the tedium and repetition that will allow us to perform that which is
most human-- thinking, dreaming, and planning.
Thinking is an internal mental process that uses data or information as input,
integrates that information into previous learned material and the and results in either knowledge
or nothing. It may occur at any moment including while eating, sleeping or working
on an unrelated task. Problem solving, planning, information integration, and analysis
are four kinds of thinking.
Wisdom is the result of learning and using knowledge for a strategic advantage.
After gaining knowledge, wisdom is used to meet new situations. Wisdom resides in the minds
of the users. Organizational wisdom is the goal of knowledge management system.
A version of this web page appears as a chapter in: Perspectives in Knowledge Management,
published in May 2008 by Scarecrow Press.
* Changed since last revision.
Cohen, Stuart. Child
Development : a study of the growth process. Itasca, IL, F.E. Peacock
Covey, Stephen R. The
Seven Habits of Highly Effective People : restoring the character ethic.
New York, Simon & Schuster, 1989.
Schools Without Failure. New York, Harper & Row, 1969.
Holt, John. How
Children Learn. New York, Pitman Publishing Corp., 1969.
O'Dell, Carla and C. Jackson
Grayson, Jr. If Only We Knew What We Know : the transfer of
internal knowledge and best practice. New York, Free Press, 1998.
Rosenberg, Marc J. E-Learning :
strategies for delivering knowledge in the digital age. New York, McGraw-Hill, 2001.
Note: This is a work in progress.
It is not exhaustive and will have new terms and revisions added as needed.
Please send me any ideas or comments to improve this list.